The history of Harris Ranch is as rich as the land on which it was settled. This multifaceted scenic expanse called the Barber Valley, just east of downtown Boise, epitomized the western frontier. Book-ended between the tree-lined Boise River to the south and the foothills to the north, Harris Ranch promises a unique lifestyle with all the benefits of a thriving community, access to nature, and recreational opportunities. To truly appreciate Barber Valley’s future, you must understand its past.
In 1902, James T. Barber founded the Barber Lumber Company with a group of investors. Three hundred men constructed a wooden dam across the Boise River to provide a log pond and an electrical plant for the sawmill. In addition to the sawmill, Barber Lumber Company also consisted of a planning mill, box factory, dry kilns, lumber yard, horse barns, and a railroad with facilities for locomotives and railroad cars. The Barber Lumber Company employed 400 men on-site plus 300 more in the logging operation.
Construction of the mill town of Barberton, which was later shortened to Barber, began in 1906. Barber was one of the last mill towns built in Idaho. The town consisted of company-owned buildings and businesses that included a hotel, general store (which doubled as the railroad ticket office), a dispensary, an electrical plant, and an eight-grade public school. Four railroads converged in this area to haul passengers and lumber. The eastern portion of Barber Valley was settled when the government town of Diversion was created during the construction of the irrigation diversion dam on the Boise River.
Boise Payette purchased Barber Lumber Company in 1914, which eventually merged with Cascade Lumber Company, and the Barber sawmill closed in 1935. Houses at the Barber town site were moved to various other locations throughout Boise. The Barber public school operated until the 1950’s.