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
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.