E.H. Harriman, “the biggest little railroad man the world had known,” had died in 1909, shortly after purchasing shares in the Island Park Land and Cattle Company. The place was already being called the Railroad Ranch because the men who bought the first 3,000 acres of the property in 1899 were associated with the Oregon Shortline Railroad. Harriman, who ran Union Pacific Railroad, solidified that name with his purchase.
The article mentions, without naming them, that Mary Harriman’s sons came along with her. It would be those sons who had the most impact on Idaho, Averell by creating the Sun Valley Resort, and E. Roland by ultimately donating the Railroad Ranch to the State of Idaho to create Harriman State Park of Idaho (the latter two words in the name to distinguish it from Harriman State Park in New York).
The wealth of the Harrimans, the Guggenheims, and other investors did not escape the notice of the unnamed Statesman reporter, who wrote, “it is said that there is more wealth represented during the summer at Island Park than at any other point in the United States outside of Wall Street and Newport.”
Mrs. Harriman fell in love with the place, as did Averell and Roland.
The reporter predicted the future, when he (probably not she) wrote, “The world is open to Mrs. Harriman, but she selected Island Park as the place to spend her summer vacation in 1911; and it is an open secret that she will return next year and the next and indefinitely.”
Over the years there was no shortage of grousing from sportsmen and anglers who felt locked out of the Railroad Ranch, but ultimately saving this jewel of the Gem State was well worth it.