Idaho’s first state park, Heyburn, came into being in 1908. But something else happened that same year that would be even more important in creating a state park system in Idaho. E. H. Harriman, the man in the middle of this photo, bought into a ranch in eastern Idaho.
Harriman was a railroad baron who ran Union Pacific Railroad. E.H. would never see the Railroad Ranch. He died in 1909. His sons, Averell on the left, and Roland, on the right, would be the Harrimans who most enjoyed the ranch. They made many trips there with their mother as boys and young men.
Although it was officially the Island Park Land and Cattle Company, locals called the operation the Railroad Ranch because some other railroad men associated with the Oregon Shortline owned shares in it. The Oregon Shortline, so named because it was the shortest way to get freight from Wyoming to Oregon, was a subsidiary of Union Pacific.
One thing you need to understand about the Railroad Ranch is that there was never a railroad there. More about that tomorrow.