In 1973, had it not be for Will Kerby, the historic P&IN Railway Depot would not exist. It was Will that saved the depot from extinction when the Union Pacific Rail Road wanted to tear it down.
Will’s Grandfather Frank Kerby homesteaded in Long Valley (south of Cascade , Idaho). Will’s father was born in Long Valley 1898 . Lifetime interests were inspired early for Will who was born in 1928 on a ranch in the Alpha area of Long Valley. Will surmises that growing up around the remnants of early ranch life peaked his curiosity for old things. Remembering fondly his childhood, he loved the sound of the Shay (logging trains with multiple drive wheels used to negotiate steep inclines) moving out of the mountain canyons not to far from the one-room school he attended in Alpha School. Affectionately he recalled an engineer friend letting him pull the train whistle. Will’s Grandfather, John Morgan worked in logging in Nova Scotia, Canada from there
to Minnesota where he was a master mechanic for Weyerhaeuser and from Minnesota to Cascade, Idaho still with Weyerhaeuser after there a short time, Boise Payette lumber company took over the Weyerhaeuser operation at Cascade. Will’s Grandfather retired in 1941 and the Company contacted Jack Morgan and asked him to take his Dad place which he did. In 1946 Jack purchased The logging division at New Meadows from Boise Payette Lumber company and named it J.I. Morgan, Inc.
After Will graduated from Cascade High School he worked summers on the ranch. Will attended the University of Idaho for two years. In between school years he worked summers for his Uncle, J.I. (Jack) Morgan. When the Korean conflict came along he spent two years in the army. When home on leave he married his wife Myrna who was from a California logging family and with whom he raised 4 children. Will always believed he would be a rancher like his father, but his Uncle Jack persuaded him to move permanently to Meadows Valley and work for the J.I. Morgan Logging Company. He started as a choker setter and never returned to ranching.
Because of the advent of the logging truck in the 40’s, J.I. Morgan did not have to relocate his young logging company. The trucks made transportation of timber less reliant on the rails. Jack took over the lease of 94 acres of land when he purchased the company adjacent to the P&IN Depot on the southwest end of New Meadows from Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR).
Will eventually took over J.I. Morgan, Inc. Through the years the rent of the UPRR property had increased so much that it made better business sense to buy it, which he did. That purchase included the land under the depot. Because UPRR considered the depot structure a liability they asked Will to tear it down. Will said “no” and saved the building from extinction. After discussions with the officials of the City of New Meadows the Depot was sold to it for the sum of $1. In 1978 the newly formed Adams County Historical Society (ACHS) purchased the building from the City for $1. However, the land under the depot still belonged to J.I. Morgan, Inc. In 1994 J.I. Morgan, Inc (Will Kerby) donated the original P&IN Railway Depot to the ACHS and that made the package complete. As owners of the building and land the ACHS could then apply for matching grants. However, due to unforeseen land ownership issues, the land didn’t officially change hands until 2001 when Will’s son Kyle, who took over J.I. Morgan, Inc. after Will retired, signed the final document. This was a legal process that took 7 years.
As President of J.I. Morgan, Inc Will received accolades from the logging industry, served on numerous national, state, local boards and committees. Will received an associate honorary degree from the University of Idaho for serving on a university Forestry guidance committee. Will said one of his most valued awards was given to him by the Intermountain Logging Conference, the conference is made up of 24 directors from four north western States and British Columbia. It was the Don Mackenzie Award. Don was the first president of the conference. The award was for the recipient contribution to the timber industry.
It seems appropriate that to the west, the backdrop for the P&IN Depot is the J.I. Morgan office, shop and yard. Without Will’s generous support, foresight in saving the building, the depot would not exist. Continuing his philanthropic actions including deeding land under the depot to the ACHS and endowments, the ACHS has been able to move forward through the years working toward the restoration of the magnificent and historic building.
President, J.I. Morgan, Inc. 1977-1997
Chairman of the Board, J.I. Morgan, Inc. 1988-1997
Worked for J.I. Morgan, Inc. 45 years 1952-1997
President, International Logging Conference 1976
President, Southern Idaho Forestry Association 1979-1980
President, Idaho Forestry Industry Council 1980
President, Timber Products Manufacturers 1989-1990
President, Pacific Logging Conference 1982
Meadows Valley School Board 12 years
Contributor to ACHS Endowment
Sources: Will Kerby, “End of the Line” ACHS September 2003 newsletter, Marla Krigbaum; The Star News, July 7, 1994 Linda Williamson.
In 2003 the March Family Endowment was establish for the benefit of the Adams County Historical Society’s P&IN Depot restoration and maintenance.
“People walked on board walks, the P&IN Depot had a station agent, and the crash of the Great Depression was felt on all sides of Meadows Valley.”
William March was four years old in 1929. He had five older siblings and a collie dog named “Jack”. Bill’s father built and owned meat markets in both New Meadows and Council from 1925-1931. The New Meadows market was where the Sterling Bank now stands (2012), in the center of New Meadows with Highway 95 bisecting the north and south portions of the town. Butchering and curing meats were done on site. Meat was sold and the parts that didn’t sell, now considered delicacies, appeared on the March Family’s dinner plates. Ox tails sold for 25 cents per lb., Alaska salmon, Great Lakes smelt, and East Coast cod, packed in barrels, were delivered during the season weekly by truck from Seattle. Next-door was Joe Caha’s creamery. LaFay’s pool hall and barbershop and Irvins’ Garage (formerly Shaver’s and presently Meadows Valley Market) on the north side faced south and across the street were LaFay’s Theater.
As a four year old, Bill spent hours alone creating his own routine while his older brothers and sisters attended school. He would grab Jack’s ruff and head down town. Home was near the Odd Fellows (IOOF) hall, a building that had been one of the town’s four brick buildings that began its life as a bank. Young Bill would meet fellows along the street and would talk them into a nickel for an ice cream cone at LaFay’s Soda Fountain or a pot of cream at Joe’s. On his way home he would head down to the depot to visit with the station agent and maybe see a train pull in from Council that came to town 3 days a week.
One day, his sisters took him to the depot with the promise of a train ride to Council for his birthday. He still hasn’t forgotten the mounting anticipation, then disappointment of returning home for a “surprise birthday party” but no train ride.
Shortly after Bill completed the first grade the family moved on to Council, Idaho. In coming years Bill lived in Gooding, Idaho, Boise, Salt Lake City, Denver and graduated from Twin Falls High School at the age of sixteen. Many of his summers were spent in McCall, Idaho with his aunt and uncle. Bill attended Mechanical Engineering School at Iowa State under the Navy V-12 program and went on to serve aboard ship in the Pacific Theatre in World War II
The summer of 1992, along with two of his three children, he came back to Twin Falls to attend his 50th high school reunion. He traveled to New Meadows, stopped to visit with Bud LaFay at LaFay’s Barber Shop where he learned about the effort to preserve the depot. It was at that moment he became a supporter of the Depot Restoration Project. Both he and his wife Margaret are very much interested in preservation and have been very supportive of charitable efforts to preserve the past.
“From my eyes as a child, the depot was the largest building in the world.” Bill has fond memories of the adventures of his childhood in Meadows Valley. He claims Meadows Valley to be the prettiest place in the world and has had a lifelong love of trains. Growing into an adult and leaving the valley his accomplishments have been many including
Working for Fairbanks-Morse selling Diesel Generating Equipment;
35 years in Municipal Bond Investments;
22 year as President – Roberts E. Schweser Co.; (an Omaha Municipal Bond house)
1981 to Present Chairman of the Board 1st National Bank of Wahoo, Nebraska;
25 years President, Peninsular Gas Co., Calumet, Michigan;
Since 1992 Bill has supported the restoration project and in 2003 the ACHS was honored to be the recipient of the March Family Endowment for the restoration and management of the P&IN depot. That endowment has allowed the ACHS to move forward with restoration projects moving toward giving the depot a new life.
Mr. March passed away in March of 2014. In September, 2014 the ACHS received a check in the amount of $100,000 from the Estate of William March. Those funds will be used for matching grant monies and restoration, renovation projects.
Sources: Mr. William March, “End of the Line” ACHS January 2003 newsletter, Marla Krigbaum; The Star News, December 22, 1994 ,Linda Williamson. Micki Eby ACHS member and grant writer.