History of Milner Dam
In 1900 the entire strip of country we know as the Magic Valley
was but a vast desert covered with sagebrush. The irrigation works
had not been commenced, and in fact, the whole scheme of irrigation
was little more than a dream
Milner Dam came about because of the vision of Ira Burton Perrine,
a rancher who had developed a Shoshone Falls resort and a Blue Lakes
farm down stream. Perrine chose the site of the dam and acted as
his own engineer. He obtained financing for the project through
Stanley B. Milner, a banker and financier from Salt Lake City, and
easterners Frank H. Buhl and Peter L. Kimberly.
As a result, the Buhl-Kimberly Corp. was formed and in 1903 a contract
was entered into between the State of Idaho and the Twin Falls Land
and Water Co. for construction of the project. The dam was formed
by three earth and rockfilled embankments, abutting against the
river banks and two islands.
In 1905 construction on the dam was completed. Men with mules
and scrapers had also finished their work on the canals and all
was ready for the water.
"On March 1, 1905, Frank Buhl gave a ceremonial pull on the
wheel on a winch and the gates of Milner Dam were closed, and the
gates to a thousand miles of canal and laterals were opened, and
the Snake River was diverted, and that night Shoshone Falls went
dry as the water rushed across the desert far above, and Perrine's
vision was realized, and 262,000 acres of desert were shortly transformed."
Milner Dam and its canal system have national significance in agricultural
history. They are one of the rare examples of successful state supervised
private irrigation development.