How a 1959 Caldwell businessman gave the Treasure Valley its name
According to a businessman from Caldwell, the Snake River Valley needed a name change and he gave it one in 1959.
BOISE, Idaho – The Treasure Valley in 2021 continues to be one of the fastest growing regions in the country. However, over 120 years ago, the Valleys of Magic and Treasure were far from magical or a treasure chest of opportunity. It took an act of Congress and a local legend for people to start planting roots in the valleys.
The Carey Act of 1894 gave each state one million acres of land, if that land could be irrigated and cultivated within ten years. So, 15 years after Idaho became a state, in 1905, Twin Falls farmer IB Perrine helped build the Milner Dam on the Snake River, and later the Minidoka Dam.
The two dams opened the floodgates for irrigation of hundreds of thousands of acres of future farmland.
“If you had been here in 1903 and returned in 1906, it would have seemed magical to see what was growing in the fields at the time,” Jennifer Hills, Twin Falls Public Library historian.
It wasn’t until 1937 that a local newspaper publisher looked for a way to better market the south-central region of Gem State to settlers.
“The idea that water has transformed this area so much, like magic,” Hills added.
Further down the Snake River, the Boise Valley or Snake River Valley stretches from Mountain Home to Ontario, OR. While the Magic Valley has been officially named, the Treasure Valley won’t get its new name for a few decades.
Snake River Valley needed a name change, according to a Caldwell businessman. Peter Olesen owned a seed business and was president of the Chambers of Commerce Collection and wanted to bring more people to the valley.
In 1959, Olesen declared the valley to be a treasure house of natural resources and commercial potential and thus dubbed the area the Treasure Valley.
The name did not have much success until 1972, when an issue of Treasure Valley magazine cited and credited Olesen with the new name.
There were 83,000 people in the metro area at the time.
There are approximately 455,000 residents of Treasure Valley today.