Shoshone Falls on the Snake River northeast of Twin Falls is worth a trip from the Boise area to view, particularly in the months of May and June when reservoirs have been filled and river levels are at their peak. The waterfall is 212 feet high and about 900 feet wide. Early visitors to Idaho described it as the “Niagara of the West.”
To reach the falls, follow Interstate 84 east to Magic Valley. Leave the interstate at the Twin Falls exit, US 93, and turn south to the city. The highway crosses the Snake River Canyon on the Perrine Bridge. Within a few blocks of entering Twin Falls, you  will encounter Falls Avenue. Turn east on this road, then north on County Road 3300 E. The turn is marked with a directional sign. The waterfall for which the city was named, Twin Falls, is further east on Falls Avenue.
The park at Shoshone Falls has a picnic area and trails along the canyon rim. There is an observing platform near the parking lot. Standing on this platform gives one a soaring feeling when the water is running at high volume, as the roar of the falling water and a misty updraft envelop the senses. Just to the east of Shoshone Falls Park is a city park at Dierke’s Lake that includes a swimming pond. There is a three dollar entry fee; which as far as the author could tell was good for both parks.
Shoshone Falls is interesting not only for its grandeur during high water but also for the fact that it could have become part of a  national reserve stretching west from Yellowstone Park along the Snake River. No one alive today has seen Shoshone Falls as it appeared to its first visitors. When the Ben Holliday stage line began service through southern Idaho in August 1864, travelers had an opportunity to arrange side trips to Shoshone Falls. Since the Snake River at that time ran unimpeded by dams, water flows over the falls could be around 20,000 cubic feet per second at times. These days, with the need to fill reservoirs, a few thousand cubic feet is all that can be spared for Shoshone Falls. If a visit to the waterfall today is exhilarating, in the 1860s it would have been indescribable.
In spite of its remote location, Shoshone Falls attracted national interest. It was the subject of a large article in Harper’s Magazine in 1870, with much more publicity to come. Painters and photographers eagerly braved jolting stagecoach rides in order to create images of the geologic wonder. When the Union Pacific Railroad’s Oregon Short Line reached the site of Shoshone, Idaho in 1883, a demand quickly developed for tours to Shoshone Falls. Charlie and Lettie Walgamott and their business partner, Joe Sullaway, suspended their enterprises in the Wood River Valley in order to claim land at Shoshone Falls. The men cleared a road from Shoshone through the sagebrush to Snake River, then chipped a roadway into the canyon wall. The hotel they built was made of canvas and the beds were primitive, but visitors in ever-increasing numbers accepted their pioneer hospitality. Railroad financiers from the east visited, and when a citified hotel was built in 1886, the Union Pacific offered excursion fares to Shoshone Falls from towns along its line. The hotel by that time was in the hands of financiers including Sen. William Clark of Montana, one of the “Copper Kings” of Butte.
Businessmen who visited Shoshone Falls were thrilled with the view but also took note of the fact that before them was a great source of water and power–and countless acres that had the potential to become farmland. By 1890, talk was circulating of building an electric power plant at Shoshone Falls. In 1900, Ira B. Perrine filed for water rights to use Snake River water for a massive irrigation project. The following year he filed for rights to use water from the Snake in an electric generating plant at the falls. From 1901 to 1904, Perrine’s pro-development faction battled legal challenges from Senator Clark’s consortium, which strived to maintain Shoshone Falls as a world-class tourist attraction.
Senator Clark and his group met with final defeat at the Idaho Supreme Court in 1904. Immediately construction was ramped up at the diversion dam at Milner and at the electric plant. Canals were dug and homesteads were claimed, forming a major portion of Idaho’s irrigated land. The project became one of the most successful homesteaders’ tracts in the history of the west. On March 1, 1905, the gates were closed at Milner Dam, sending water to 60,000 thirsty acres. A crowd gathered that day at Shoshone Falls. The falls did not dry up as some had expected; springs downstream from Milner provided 3,000 cubic feet of water per second at the falls. But the greatest days of Shoshone Falls were behind it as agriculture and industry supplanted the free-wheeling ways of nature.

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