Life along the Canals
By Shirley Metts
“What? We’re moving to Hazelton? No way—no one moves to Hazelton! What about all our friends?” This was the reaction when our parents informed us kids in 1966 that we were moving to a farm at the end of Ridgeway Road a little east and south of Hazelton, about twenty-seven miles from our home in Rupert. As usually happens, we did make great new friends, one of whom was my future husband.
Before that move, the only memory I had of Hazelton was when we passed through it one Thanksgiving. We had been trying to visit my grandparents in Nampa but drove into a big blizzard, the snow coming down so fast that we had to turn around and go back home. Before the interstate system was built, to get from Rupert to Nampa you took a two-lane highway through Paul, Hazelton, Eden, Jerome, Bliss, King Hill, Glenns Ferry, and then on to Mountain Home and Boise. In Hazelton that Thanksgiving Day, I remember we looked for a telephone to call my grandparents, but not a single place was open. We had to turn around and call from the nearby little Greenwood Store.
We moved to Hazelton during my sister’s senior year at Minico Senior High School between Paul and Rupert, which meant we drove to Minico and back frequently, so she could graduate with her friends. My brother bought a car and we either rode with him or took the bus, which dropped us off at Kasota Road, about six miles from our farm, and Mom picked us up there. These trips gave my brother and me time to meet people and make friends before we started at Valley High School.
In my memory, summers around Hazelton were dominated by the irrigation canal, which was about a quarter-mile from our house and not far from the Snake River Canyon. We swam and canoed on it, but what we liked best was to float it on inner tubes as it wound several miles around neighboring farms. We also swam in the lake that backed up behind Cauldron Linn on the Snake River. A person had to be very careful to stay out of the channel, because it had a strong current, even though the water level was low. You had to be aware when the siren went off, signaling that water was being let out of the dam into the river. Of course, this meant the river level would be rising and it would be dangerous in the canyon.
When the river was low in the summer, it went under the rocks in places, forming pools, small and large, in the river bottom. We hiked down from Milner Dam to fish those holes. The carp were huge, although mostly they didn’t fight. It felt like catching logs, but it was a lot of fun. We tried canoeing the river above Cauldron Linn, but got tired of portaging the canoes over the numerous rock bridges, where the water went under the rocks and came out into pools.