The Historic Pacific & Idaho Northern (P&IN) Railway Depot
On May 16, 1899, the first spike of the Pacific and Idaho Northern Railway was driven into the first rail at Weiser, located in Washington County, Idaho. It would be 12 years later before the last rail would be laid, 90 miles north at the new town site of New Meadows that, at that time, was also located in Washington County. The track ended just past the beautiful new brick depot building located on the western edge of the new town site.
The two-story bracketed Italianate structure, with its graceful 3 arch portico entry, was designed by Architect H. W. Bond of Weiser. The depot was constructed in 1910 – 1911; at a cost (per county records) of $14,335. It was a show place modeled for neatness, convenience and comfort, which included a separate Ladies Waiting Room off of the lobby. The depot was equipped with all the modern features of the era: electric lights, sewer and water. The 1st floor and lobby were designed to accommodate passengers and freight with the non-public area of the railway offices upstairs. The President’s Room, located on the second story at the head of the stairs, was Colonel Heigho’s office.
Quoted from the Meadows Eagle, December 28, 1911. “The private office of Co. E. M. Heigho, the president, general manager, and the traffic manager of the P. I. N. is very handsomely furnished in mahogany.”
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101 Commercial Avenue
P.O. Box 352
New Meadows, Idaho 83654
A New Town is Born
Along with bringing the rails to the valley, Colonel Heigho (pronounced Hi-O) was instrumental in building the town site of New Meadows. He became president of the Coeur d’Or Development Company who surveyed and platted the town site.
The town grew and evolved with the coming of the railroad. Many of the houses at Meadows (first settlement on the east side of the valley) were moved to the new town. Some merchants of Meadows moved their old buildings or built new stores in New Meadows.
This planned community would become home to four beautiful large brick buildings. On the western edge of town was the P & IN Depot with its circular driveway facing the east.
On the eastern edge of town was the magnificent 53 room Hotel Heigho with its circular driveway facing the Depot to the west. It was touted as one of the Best in Idaho. On the northern side of town was the two story “Beaumont” schoolhouse that faced the south and a two story bank building on the southern side of town.
The Heigho residence, just north of the Heigho Hotel, is another brick building built after the initial 4 brick buildings.
Ownership of the Depot & the ACHS
The Pacific and Idaho Northern sold their line to the Union Pacific Railroad in 1936. The Union Pacific kept the line running until 1979. The railroad served an especially important function as the farm-to-market railroad until 1940, thereafter most of its business came from the timber and livestock industries.
In the late 1970’s Union Pacific Railroad began talking about tearing down the depot. Will Kerby, at the helm of J.I. Morgan, Inc. was involved in the conversations. He had another vision for the historic depot. Results of the conversations ended with UPRR deeded the building to the Village of New Meadows, but only the building. The land underneath the building still belonged to the UPRR and eventually J.I. Morgan, Inc.
A Depot Committee was formed to find other alternatives to tearing the depot down. They rallied together and in 1978 formed the Adams County Historical Society (ACHS). On April 19, 1978 the Depot was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Union Pacific Railroad gifted the depot to the City of New Meadows, which in turn sold it at auction to the only bidder, the ACHS, for $1.00.
Because of title and legal issues, it took 7 years before J. I. Morgan, Inc. who by then owned the land on which the depot sat, could donate the land to the Adams County Historical Society. Until the ACHS was the owner of both the building and the land it could not apply for grants.
What Happened to the Buildings
The magnificent 53 room Heigho Hotel burned down in May 1929. It was completely destroyed. The story of the cause of the fire was when some packing paper was being burned the flames got out of hand. The large building was completely destroyed. The state of the economy did not support rebuilding.
As of 2022 the P&IN Railway Depot continues to be owned and operated by the non-profit Adams County Historical Society. It has exhibits open to the public and has museum artifacts from Meadows Valley and is a repository for historical documents.
Beaumont School is privately owned and has been converted to apartments.
The bank building, which served many years as the IOOF Hall and Rebecca’s Lodge, has been updated and is a private residence and small business.
The red brick Heigho residence, at some point was painted yellow. It is now privately owned and operated as a Bed and Breakfast called the Hartland Inn with a historic décor flair.
The mission of the Adams County Historical Society is to preserve, protect and restore the human and natural histories of Adams County for the informational and educational benefit of the public. The Adams County Historical Society, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit.