FRANKLIN – The Franklin Relic Hall is the first location of the seven counties of the Bear River Heritage Area to display “Blessed by Water and Worked by Hand” exhibit. The relic hall is located at 113 East Main St. in Franklin.
The Bear River Heritage Area is a two-state area where the great basin and the Rocky Mountains meet in Southeast Idaho and Northeast Utah. The area includes Bear Lake, Oneida, Cache, Box Elder, Franklin, Caribou and Rich counites.
Logan resident and independent graphic designer Gail Griswold organized the display with the help of Utah State University history students. Griswold assembled seven 36 by 64-inch photographic panels that show the importance of water in each county in the region.
“We went through USU Special Collections and looked for photographs to represent each county,” she said. “We looked for photographs from 1910 to 1940 that showed how water was used in the past.”
What looks like hand-colored photographs is an overlay wire screen that was painted to give the displays color.
“It is an optical illusion,” Griswold said. ”It’s a parlor trick our eyes fill in the information, but the photographs are not colored; it’s the paint on the wire screen.”
Grisw0ld is a California transplant who has a background in exhibit design.
One display shows people on Bear Lake in wooden boats powered by oars, another shows irrigation ditches and other waterways in both states.
Susan Hawkes, the Franklin Relic Hall executive director, set up a Franklin County companion exhibit with photographs of how water became important to the early settlers of Franklin in the early years of the first canal system in Idaho. She has a piece of one of the original pipes from the Thomas Ditch that carried water through a hollowed-out log wrapped by thick wire.
“Preston Thomas and William Neilson built a ditch from Maple Creek to irrigate their crops in Franklin,” Hawkes said. “This three-and-a-half-mile ditch became the first irrigation system in Idaho.”
He also built the Thomas Ditch which brought water from the Cub River to Lewiston and Fairview.
“That’s where those communities got their water from.
I am proud to be the opener of this exhibit I hope we can people to come and enjoy the Relic Hall here,” Hawkes said. “It will only be here three weeks and then it will go to Idaho Counties first then Utah counties and will end up in Hyrum on August 14.”
The Relic Hall is open now for the 2021 season. It is open from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., closed Sunday and Monday.