For several years Hailey had three daily papers which also were published weekly, and it continued to have two daily papers until 1919. It now has one weekly paper, The Hailey Times. Until this year, many of us believed that Hailey had the first daily paper in the Territory of Idaho. But L. A. York of Boise, who published the Avalanche at Silver City from 1890 till 1903, under date of June 2, 1930, writes, in part, as follows: “The Owyhee Avalanche, of Silver City, was published as a daily in 1875-6, by W. J. Hill. He had the first steam press (cylinder) in the Territory, and received telegraphic reports over a line built from Winnemucca. He paid $300.00 per month for the telegraph service. This is authentic.”
The most reliable information obtainable is that T. E. Picotte of Hailey published the second earliest daily paper in the Territory of Idaho. It was called Wood River Daily Times and was first published May 20, 1882. Mr. Picotte began the publication of the Wood River Weekly Times on June 15, 1881.
The earliest electric light plant in the Territory was at the Ketchum Smelter. But Hailey was the first town to have an electric light plant. Hailey had the first telephone system in the territory.
The attention of the Union Pacific Railway Company, while constructing their through line to the Pacific Coast, was drawn to the large freighting business done by the Wood River County. As a consequence, the Wood River Branch was built to Hailey. On May 7, 1883, at 10:30 a.m., the first train arrived in Hailey. There was great rejoicing. The following year, it was extended to Ketchum. Ketchum celebrated the extension of the railway to that town on August 19, 1884. Trains began running regularly the following day. With the advent of the railroad, the stage coach and the big freighting outfits had to seek new fields.
An Act of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Idaho, at its 12th session, approved February 8, 1883, entitled, “An Act providing for the erection of a County Court House and Jail at Hailey, the county seat of Alturas County,” provided that for the purpose of erecting and completing said Court House and Jail, Alturas County might issue forty thousand dollars of negotiable coupon bonds. On July 14, 1883, the bid of Horace J. Knapp that he would erect, complete and furnish the Court House and Jail, as per the plans and specifications adopted by the Board for the sum of $37,800.00 and accept the bonds known as the Court House Bonds in payment therefore, was accepted. There were incidentals, which made the cost $40,000.00. On August 11, 1883, the corner stone of the courthouse was laid under the supervision of J. K. Morrill, chairman of the Board of County Commissioners. Deposited and hermetically sealed are: The names and official titles of the County officers, a copy of the Wood River Times, a copy of the Act of the Legislature providing for the erection of a court house and jail at Hailey, Idaho, and a blank courthouse bond. On August 1, 1884, the building was accepted. The basement is of rock and is the jail. In the jail are steel cages that are said to have cost about $10,000 00. The other two stories are of brick. In this building are offices for all the county officials, a large up-to-date Court room, jury room, Judge’s chambers, etc. When built, it was probably the best Court house in the Territory. In 1907, a fireproof vault of two stories and a jury room on the the third story was erected.
The Alturas Hotel (now Hiawatha) is a three story brick building with rock basement. On March 22, 1883, ground was broken for this hotel. On May 25, 1886, it was opened to the public with a grand ball. A Hailey paper of that date says, “it is admitted to be the finest hotel between Denver and the Pacific Ocean.” It was said to have cost $35,000 ; furniture $8,000, not including the $5,000 bar and fixtures connected with the billiard hall. In 1914-15 quite an addition was built to it and renovated throughout. It contains 82 rooms and each room is furnished with hot and cold water. The natural hot water from the Hailey Hot Springs (about two and a half miles west of town) is piped in and the hotel is heated throughout with this water which has a temperature of 136 degrees, Fahrenheit. The hotel has all modern conveniences. There is a large natatorium in connection therewith.
Even in the early days, Hailey, like the other towns, had good business houses in which were carried all goods, wares and merchandise necessary for the community. All these towns had good residences and good educational facilities. churches, etc. There were about 20 lawyers. There were able men who represented several religions, who ministered to the spiritual welfare of the inhabitants. There were saloons a-plenty. Faro, poker, roulette and other games of chance were also plentiful. Even the smallest mining camp had its saloon and some game of chance. It is no exaggeration to say that in the larger towns there was nothing lacking that was to be found in a real mining town. On September 17, 1884, Sheriff C. H. Furey issued licenses to 18 saloon-keepers in Hailey, seven at Bullion, and five at Shoshone. The number of licenses at Bellevue and Ketchum was not definitely known but it was thought the number would reach 15 for Ketchum. There were 12 gaming licenses issued for Hailey and eight for Ketchum. The revenue from saloons alone amounted to $9,800 a year. Hailey in the early days had the Hailey Iron Works, which was a branch of the Colorado Iron Works of Denver, and were manufacturers of and dealers in mining machinery, sawmills, jigs, screens, elevators, furnaces, crushers, Cornish pumps, steam pumps, etc.
The United States Land Office at Hailey was opened for business on July 14, 1883, with Homer L. Pound as the first Register and J. S. Waters as the first Receiver. An immense area was included in this Land District. After most of the land had been filed on and patented, the Land Office, for economic reasons, was abolished at the close of April 30, 1925. All books, records, and files were transferred to Blackfoot, Idaho.