| July/August 1986

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  • # Picture 02

  • # Picture 01
  • # Picture 02

712 Chaps Road, Rio Rancho, NM 87124

My friend, Chady Atteberry, of Blackwell, Oklahoma, suggested that I send you this story about a perfectly good Reeves steamer that was destroyed as a publicity stunt. On April 1, 1934, a 25 HP Reeves cross-compound traction engine was steamed up and driven off the south rim of the Snake River Canyon just east of the Perrine Bridge on highway 93 north of Twin Falls, Idaho. Aproximately 8,000 people witnessed the event, which marked the passing of the steam engine. From the canyon rim to the river surface below is 485 feet. The boiler exploded when it hit the rocky canyon floor. Luckily no one was injured. The people watched from the 1,500 foot long bridge and the north rim. The responsible party was the former Case dealer in Twin Falls, the Williams Tractor Co. Years later when the steam engine became popular again, I talked to the late Mr. Williams about the episode. He was sorry about the incident and wished he still had the Reeves and some of the other engines that were scrapped. The old newspaper clipping shows a picture of the involved Reeves.

In the hey-day of steam power, there were lots of large draft horses and steam engines used in the rich Magic Valley of southern Idaho. Our home in Twin Falls for 17 years was 1 miles south of where the Reeves was destroyed.

The cantilever truss two lane Perrine Bridge was completed in 1927. It was built for wagons and model T Ford trucks. In 1972 large 18 wheelers were hauling 28 tons of sugar beets across the bridge. Sometimes there were two of these trucks crossing the bridge at the same time. Their large loads and braking action really made the bridge vibrate. After that the highway department would not let large trucks use the bridge for three years while a new four lane bridge was built.

As shown in the second old newspaper picture, the first electricity for Twin Falls, Idaho, was provided by a steam traction engine in the summer of 1905. The engine was 'dug in' behind the Perrine Hotel and covered. It was a Case 25 HP single compound cylinder engine. The Twin Falls irrigated tract was not developed until after 1900. Prior to that it was lava ash desert country. Cheap electricity for southern Idaho is now produced by huge Snake River waterfalls, one of which is considerably higher than Niagara Falls.


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