Idaho Southern Railroad Company

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By Thornton Waite

Two railroad companies were incorporated in Idaho with the name of the Idaho Southern Railroad Company.

Idaho Southern Railroad Company

Incorporated in Delaware: December 8, 1908 Predecessor: None
Incorporated in Idaho: January 22, 1909 Successor: None
Articles forfeited: December 2, 1916

The first railroad known as the Idaho Southern Railroad Company was one of the few independent railroads incorporated in southern Idaho. Running from Gooding through Wendell to Jerome, the 22.98 miles line was planned to be an electric line. It was not able to make a profit and was abandoned only seven years after it was incorporated.

The company was initially capitalized at $2 million, later increased to $3 million, with headquarters in Gooding. The directors were W.S. Kuhn, J.B. Wagener, J.H. Purdy, E.B. Brach, R.L. Kelster, and W. B. McCain of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; H.W. Davis of Wilmington, Delaware; D.C. MacWatters of Milner, Idaho; and F. Hill of Willows, California. W. S. Kuhn was president of the company as well as president of the Twin Falls North Side Land and Water Company. MacWatters was also associated with the Milner and North Side Railroad Company, which was built in the same time period. The headquarters for the company was in Milner, Idaho.

The railroad was built using 60# rail. The first train ran on December 1, 1908, and construction was officially complete on May 31, 1909. In September 1909 The Railway Age reported that Idaho Southern was operating between Gooding and Jerome and that a contract had been let for an extension from Jerome to Twin Falls. The following month the reported that work was underway on a line from Wendell west to Hagerman, but neither of these extensions was never built.

The passenger service consisted of one daily train in each direction. In 1910, shortly after the railroad opened, the schedule was:

No. 2 Mile Station No. 1
11:30 AM 0 Gooding 5:40 PM
1:45 AM 8 Bennett 5:05 PM
12:20 Noon 13 Wendell 4:50 PM
12:35 PM 18 Appleton 4:15 PM
1:10 PM 23 Jerome 4:00 PM


The operations for the year ending June 30, 1914, were:[1]

The year ending June 30, 1914, the railroad had carried:

The schedule for January 1916 shows the train had been speeded up a slightly for the 23 mile run. The daily train now took 1:15 for the 23 miles, and in 1910 it had taken 1:40.

No. 2 Mile Station No. 1
8:30 AM Gooding 12:50 PM
855 AM 8 Bennett 12:25 PM
9:15 AM 13 Wendell 12:10 PM
9:30 AM 18 Ardmore 12:00 Noon
9:45 AM 23 Jerome 11:45 AM


The Idaho Southern was not able to compete with the Oregon Short Line Railroad, and when it was no longer able to pay its operating expenses the Idaho Southern entered into receivership on November 13, 1915. The railroad had not been able to make any money since it started operations. MacWatters was appointed receiver, and he petitioned to the Public Utilities Commission of Idaho to abandon the line on November 15, 1915. In the abandonment hearings it was noted the railroad no longer had any money to pay its employees or to purchase coal or other supplies and materials, had exhausted its credit, and no additional money was available and it was not able to continue operations. The trustee requested permission to discontinue service and dispose of the rails, ties, and other properties. The Public Utilities Commission of Idaho authorized the discontinuance of train service on November 16, 1916.[2]  Abandonment of the line was authorized on December 19, 1916, and the commission allowed the railroad to sell its rolling stock and rails.[3] It was believed to have been scrapped the following year.[4]

At the time it was abandoned the company had three locomotives, two passenger coaches, a combination passenger car, a baggage car, six freight cars, a caboose, and miscellaneous machinery and supplies. The locomotives operated on the railroad were:

#100 – 4-6-0 built by Alco

#101 – 4-4-0

#102 – 4-40 built by Brooks, purchased in November 1909.

The main reason the line did not succeed is that the Oregon Short Line had built the North Side Branch from Rupert through Jerome to its main line at Bliss in 1911, and the section of its line between Wendell and Jerome essentially paralleled the Idaho Southern, so that the Idaho Southern only carried local traffic, which was insignificant.

Idaho Southern Railroad Company

Incorporated: July 18, 1989 Predecessor: None
Incorporated in Idaho: July 21, 1988 Successor: None
Articles forfeited: August 21, 1997

The second railroad incorporated with the name of the Idaho Southern Railroad Company was incorporated on July 21, 1989 and the line was capitalized at $1 million. The three initial board of directors were Gordon Smith, L. E. Costello and Scott Simplot of Boise. The articles of incorporation did not specify the purpose of the new corporation. The corporation was dissolved on Aug. 27, 1997.

[1] ICC statistics, 1914

[2] Undated newspaper clipping, 11/27/16 report.

[3] Idaho Public Utilities Commission Order No. 387

[4] Robertson, Don Encyclopedia of Western Railroad History, Vol. II (Colorado, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming), 1991 Taylor Publishing Co., p. 213