The Canyon House was located across the Boise River from where you are standing. The house was designed and built by Arthur De Wint Foote in 1885, using funds from literary works by his wife, Mary Hallock Foote. As Chief Engineer for the Idaho Mining & Irrigation Company, Arthur was directed to oversee the company's equipment located across the river. While waiting for project funding, he moved his family to this site. The house was constructed of lava rock walls using his own cement formula. In good weather, a boat was used to cross the river to their horses, stabled near where now stand. A swing bridge also spanned the river, allowing for precarious crossings.
Mary Hallock Foote grew up in a Quaker family in New York State. Fortunately, she was one of the few women of her time allowed to advance here education. She attended The Cooper Union School of Advancement for Science and Art in New York City. As a young artist, she created drawings for key literary figures of her time, including Hawthorne, Longfellow, and Louisa May Alcott. After marrying Arthur D. Foote in 1876, she traveled west with him. Nationally known for her illustrations, she began writing her own stories, essays, and novels. Her works pictured frontier life that featured a woman's gentler perspective. She once said "No girl ever wanted to 'go West'
with any man, or paid a man greater compliment by so". Nonetheless, Mary managed to balance her roles as wife, mother, novelist, illustrator, and interpreter of the American West.
Arthur De Wint Foote came from a Connecticut farming family. He became a self-educated civil and mining engineer as he turned his experience in the American West into significant engineering and entrepreneurial innovations. In 1884, he moved his family to Idaho and devoted his talents to the Boise River Irrigation Project, which was finally completed by the US Bureau of Reclamation in 1909. In addition to developing the irrigation plan for the Treasure Valley, his inventions were widely used in constructing irrigation systems. D. W. Ross, State Reclamation Engineer, said of Foote, "A quarter of a century ago, Mr. Foote saw these possibilities which we now so fully realize, he saw where water could be diverted, he saw where it could be stored, and in reach of his precise imagination, he could see these lands peopled with thousands of prosperous families."* *Idaho Statesman, Feb. 24, 1909