“Anyone living in the United States during the mid-twentieth century would have heard about the African adventures of Tarzan. From the time the first story, ‘Tarzan of the Apes,’ was published in 1912 until the movie, ‘Tarzan and the Jungle Boy,’ was produced in 1968, a steady stream of newspaper serials, magazine stories, books, and movies made Tarzan a household word.
“Edgar Rice Burroughs, ‘the man who created Tarzan,’ wrote forty-seven other novels in addition to his twenty-eight Tarzan books, but his Tarzan books were the most famous. Over a period of fifty years, beginning with the silent picture, ‘Tarzan of the Apes,’ in 1918, forty Tarzan movies were produced.’
“Burroughs first came West in the fall of 1891— and he came to Cassia County. He had come to live with his older brothers George and Harry on their ranch in the Raft River valley… The Burroughs brothers came to Cassia County where they joined Lew Sweetser in ranching.’
“Meanwhile Edgar, the youngest Burroughs’ brother, was not doing well in school and also appeared to have poor health.” Eventually he moved west to live with his brothers.’
“Edgar was fascinated by the people he met, and loved working with animals. “When I got my leg over a horse I owned the world,” he wrote years later in his autobiography.’
“Edgar was given the job of driving a wagon to the nearest railroad station at American Falls to pick up mail and freight. ‘The team that I drove consisted of two outlawed broncos…Here I loaded up with shovels, picks and crowbars and climbed back onto the bronco, riding the five miles back to the stalled wagon with assorted hardware bumping him on all his corners, which goes to show that Providence really does look after a certain class of people.’
“Later he described riding a horse that was considered too mean to ride. The owner, Jim Pierce, told Edgar that if he could ride the horse, it would be his. He managed to ride him, and ‘stayed on him all that day because I was afraid if I got off I could never get back on again.’
“Edgar lived at his brother’s ranch for only about six months before he was sent home to complete his education, but he always remembered those days with fondness.’
“When I got up at four o’clock in the morning to do the chores, I had only two garments to put on, my hat and my boots. The hat went on easy enough, but the boots were always frozen. I wonder why we recall such hardships as among the happiest experiences of our lives.”
“Seven years later he returned to Cassia County to work with his brothers on the Bar Y Ranch… He left for the East a short time later.’ …
“His first story, not published until after his death, was entitled, “Minidoka 937th Earl of One Mile Series M. An Historical Fairy Tale.” One of only two stories set in Idaho, it described two kingdoms that were “forever at war,” separated by the Raft River. Though the setting for most of his other novels may have been far-off places, they reflected the influence of Cassia County on an impressionable boy.’
Excerpted from “Cassia County Idaho The Foundation Years” by Kathleen Hedberg and used by permission of its owners.
Kathleen Hedberg is the author of “Cassia County the Foundation Years” and “A Flood Can’t Happen Here”, and she’d love to hear from you. Drop her a note at [email protected].
Copies are available at: Cassia County Museum Corner of Hiland and Main, Burley, ID 83318, 208-678-7172 and Mini-Cassia Chamber of Commerce, 1177 7th Street, Heyburn, ID 83336 at 208-679-4793