If you travel to the southern part of Idaho, you have probably crossed the Perrine Bridge leading into Twin Falls. It’s an enormous expanse that is both beautiful and a bit terrifying when you experience it.
The bridge is a breathtaking expanse that has been bringing people from one side of the Snake River Canyon to the other for over 40 years, something that takes only seconds when it used to take a full day.
Shawn Bariger is the Mayor of Twin Falls Mayor and the President of Twin Falls Chamber of Commerce. He says, “The settlers would come to Shoshone which is about 25 miles north of here because that is where the railroad was, and then they’d take a stage coach down here to the south side of the canyon, do they’d wind their way down the north side and then cross on a ferry and then come back up the south side and that’s how you got to Twin Falls.”
In 1927, the original bridge was built. It was named the Intercounty Bridge and at the time was the tallest bridge in the world. It was privately owned and travelers were charged a .60 cent toll for passage across the gorge.
“At that time it was more of an impediment than something that could be valued,” explains Bariger, “but over time we’ve seen the recreational development kayaking and standup paddle boarding on the river, fishing, we call it everything from the mild to the wild.”
The Perrine Bridge you see today was built in 1976 and is now an easy access to the city, with over 30,000 vehicles passing over it every day, but the bridge is also the focal point for so many different activities along the canyon rim and the river below. Miles of trails both paved and dirt follow the river and the rim of the canyon giving breathtaking views and what could be better than a relaxing float in a kayak, especially if you have a personal paddler.
“He’s doing all the work,” says Brenda Stanley, “the way it should be. The way it always is. Yes, whatever.”
The canyon and the river were once a barrier to commerce, but now are a vital part of the Twin Falls economy.
“I’m excited to see the progress we’ve made in Twin Falls and other places in Idaho,” says Bariger, “where we’re sort of embracing the natural beauty that we have that natural recreation and finding ways to capitalize on it in such a way that still preserves the asset, helps to maintain the things that we love to do without overwhelming it with visitors but also finding that a way to support the local economies throughout Idaho particularly in rural Idaho.”
And one of those ways includes one of the most dangerous activities imaginable, base jumping off the bridge. Next week, we’ll take you to the top of the Perrine Bridge with a look at these thrill seekers and why this bridge is the only one in the United States that allows these people to jump without any regulations or rules. That’s next week’s Idaho Gems.