In the early 20th century, Dallas and Alta Harris founded their ranch based on their values: stewardship, preservation, and quality of life—values that endure today. A pioneer at heart, Dallas Harris drafted the Warm Springs Village plan in 1976. His vision was ahead of its time; promising exceptional living for its residents while protecting the beauty and health of the land. Three decades later, the Harris family’s vision is coming to life. Incorporating New Urbanism and Smart Growth principles in a community plan that realizes their pioneering vision.
Born in Pettigrew, Arkansas, located in the Ozark Mountains, Dallas Harris was the sixth of ten children born to John Henry Harris and Martha Ritchie Harris. John, Martha, and their six daughters and four sons (once of appropriate age) worked in the family owned sawmill that was their livelihood.
In the 1930’s economic depression and droughts caused many people in Arkansas and Oklahoma to seek a better life in the West. In 1936 Dallas joined the exodus and traveled to Meridian, Idaho, where other family members, including aunts, uncles, cousins, and brothers, had relocated. He lived with his brother Ivan and supported himself by working a myriad of jobs. At various times, he worked as gas station attendant, a linesman for Idaho Power, and a railroad laborer. In 1937 Dallas briefly returned to Oklahoma to marry Alta Watson, one of five children of Calvin and Addie Toone Watson.
Dallas and Alta were married in November of 1938. After their marriage, they returned to Idaho and lived in Meridian and Nampa. Sometime around 1940, Dallas and his brother Ivan returned to the trade they had learned in Arkansas and started a sawmill in Thorn Creek near Idaho City. The employees of the sawmill, which included extended family members, lived in the lumber camp that provided a church and school.
Harris Brothers Lumber Company was moved to the outskirts of Idaho City around 1945. The mill site was across from Warm Springs Plunge. The geothermal water from the plunge was piped into the millpond to prevent freezing of the pond in the winter months. The Harris’ were involved in many civic concerns while living in Idaho City.
Unfortunately, their sawmill burned twice and was eventually destroyed by fire in 1950. Following the fire, Ivan and Dallas purchased an existing sawmill on the western edge of Barber Valley. After this mill was renovated, it operated as Harris Brothers Sawmill until it was sold to Boise Cascade in 1961.
Beef cattle and Appaloosa horses became the interest of Dallas after the sale of Harris Brothers Sawmill and, consequently, he began to acquire farmland in the Barber Valley. Dallas loved to work with the cattle and horses on the ranch and competed in many “cow cutting” events and horse shows in the Northwest, acquiring many ribbons and trophies.
When Harris Brothers Sawmill was sold to Boise Cascade, the Harris’ had agreed to remain out of the lumber business for six years. At the end of that time, Dallas purchased Producers Lumber which, at the time, was on the site where the Riverside Hotel is currently located. Producer Lumber was moved to Wise Way in 1969.
Dallas and Alta have been active members of the Church of Christ throughout their lives. Dallas was an elder at the El Dorado Street Church of Christ and a board member of Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas for many years. He was also active in the Democratic Party and held many fundraising events at Harris Ranch. He served on the Ada County Zoning Commission, various livestock clubs, and other community organizations.
Dallas and Alta’s legacy lives on through their four children: Felicia, Gary, Millie, and Randy. They also have six grandchildren. Their children and grandchildren believe Harris Ranch is a wonderful memorial and will enhance the lives of people in and around the community.