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HISTORY OF IRRIGATION IN THE STATE OF
[Continued from page 276, Volume IX.]
THE STATE EPOCH OF CANAL BUILDING
Private enterprises, however, did not idly await the Government's aid, but went on in leaps and bounds. The largest project is that known as the Sunnyside Canal, already mentioned since the survey thereof, and properly belongs to the preceding period. The first survey was begun in 1885 by J. D. McIntyre as chief engineer and completed by 1889. This survey provided for the intake two miles above where the Naches flows into the Yakima, the ditch to run west of the Ahtanum basin, cross the Ahtanum five miles west of its confluence with the Yakima River, follow along the steep hillside south of Ahtanum Creek to Union Gap, then across the Yakima River by pipe line, to the easterly side of the river, at which point the elevation obtained above the Yakima River and above the Sunnyside line is 179 feet — thence along the foot of Rattlesnake Range in a southerly direction to a point about north of Prosser, a total distance of ninety-eight miles of canal. The cost estimated is $500,000, and storage reservoirs may be built at $100,000 which would double the capacity of the canal. In order to irrigate successfully the whole tract of 200,000 acres it was also advised that a lower canal be built. The Yakima Canal and Land Company was organized December 4, 1889, with a capital of $1,000,000. Walter N. Granger was made its first president. He gives us the following interesting incident: "At the instance of friends, in 1889, I came from Montana to look over the irrigation project presented by that portion of the lower Yakima Valley locally called Sunnyside section. So one June morning, accompanied by a guide, I left North Yakima. We soon passed the Gap, Park Bottom and out into the valley. A few miles farther down we ascended Snipes Mountain and traveled along its summit the better to view the country on either side. . . . As I gazed on the scene I then and there resolved that a city should some day be built. My mind was then made up regarding the feasibility of the canal project, and the next day we rode to the nearest telegraphic station, where I wired for my crew of engineers.” (History of Klickitat, Yakima and
Continuation of a thesis submitted by Miss Rose M. Boening, of Yakima, as part of her work for the Master's degree in History in the University of Washington.
Kittitas Counties, p. 222.) The company obtained an option from the Northern Pacific Company for the purchase of all railroad lands in the Sunnyside region. When the enterprise seemed so promising, the Northern Pacific made advances to the irrigation company for consolidation, with the result that the Northern Pacific took two-thirds of the stock and the new company was known as the Northern Pacific, Yakima and Kittitas Irrigation Company. It proposed to build seven reservoirs in the mountains and to build one canal in Kittitas County and two in Yakima. William Hamilton Hall, a famous engineer from California, was procured to verify the work of McIntyre, on which he reported favorably.
Work was begun in the early part of 1891 on the lower Sunnyside ditch, the one which has its intake just below Union Gap, "where the river pinches itself between two high hills Nature seems to have designed it as a place for an intake of a great canal.” They took over the Kennewick ditch, which had just increased its capital stock from $10,000 to $15,000. This they proposed to enlarge and extend so as to carry "one thousand cubic feet of water per second of time and serve 68,000 acres of land.”
Work was continued, and on March 26, 1892, was held a great celebration, for twenty-five miles had been completed. The Yakima Herald says, “The announcement of the date of the ceremony was very brief, but sufficient to attract a large throng of people, who early in the morning could be seen wending their way down the river road by every means of conveyance that could possibly be secured.
Paul Schultze, president of the company, arrived in his special car from Tacoma. Many prominent men were there to witness the ceremony and inspect the great work, which is but the beginning of the most important system of irrigating canals in America. The intake of the canal where the dams and headgates are located is seven miles from and within sight of the two Buttes, the historic battleground. There a platform had been built, and at 10 o'clock Hon. R. K. Nichols, as master of ceremonies, called the assembled people to order. ... Hon. Edward Whitson, Hon. J. B. Reavis, Hon. Gardner C. Hubbard (of Washington, D. C.) and Paul Schultze made speeches appropriate to the occasion. Miss Dora Allen broke a bottle of champagne over the headgates as the water swirled into the new canal and the band played lively airs." The first water was taken by new settlers from the main canal in April, 1892. The financial depression of 1892 caused the work to be suspended, but even ere the panic had passed work began again, and by 1893 Superintendent Granger's June day resolution had been fulfilled.
As early as 1894 the company surveyed the site and prepared for construction by hewing tamarack timbers for the dam, but this was to be the work of the Federal Government and belongs to another epoch.
In 1902 Walter N. Granger claimed this project to be the fourth largest irrigation system in the United States and the largest in the Northwest. One million dollars had been expended. Forty thousand dollars had been expended for the headgates. Counting the smaller laterals at the lower end, an aggregate between 600 and 700 miles in length; the main canal had a top width of 621/2 feet, bottom 32 feet, banks 8 feet high, initial capacity 800 second-feet. The canal covered an area of 64,000 acres of irrigable land, of which 32,000 are now under cultivation.
Besides this project, the Yakima Valley had many others, far too many to give more than a passing mention; for this valley was and is today the center of greatest irrigation interest. In January, 1892, arrangements were made for the construction of a canal from Horn Rapids on the Yakima to the Columbia, the ditch to extend along the south side of the Yakima. This work was by the Yakima Irrigation and Improvement Company. The operations made things lively in the vicinity of Kennewick during the whole of 1892 and 1893. This ditch proved inadequate, but has since been enlarged, and now claims to be the finest of its kind in the state.
On April 19, 1894, was completed, with appropriate exercises, the opening of the Yakima Irrigation and Land Company Canal, which would irrigate 4,000 acres.
In 1892, an attempt was made to irrigate the arid lands around Kennewick by the Yakima Irrigation and Improvement Company. It was not a complete success, though the company spent much money constructing a canal from the Horn Rapids some seven miles below Kiona. The ditch proved too small, but, with the financial depression, the company could not enlarge it, and so suspended development.
In 1902, the ditch, water right and realty holdings passed into the hands of the Northern Pacific, Yakima and Kittitas Irrigating Company, who soon enlarged the ditch and under the supervision of John Russell was built what is "claimed to be the finest irrigation canal in the state.” At Kennewick, twenty-one miles from the headgate, it is five feet deep, eighteen feet wide at the bottom, and about 15,000 acres can be irrigated. A perpetual water right costs about $85 an acre. Some plans never reached a realization.
In 1895 the survey for a large canal called the Naches and Columbia River Irrigation Canal was made under the direction of the State Arid Land Commission. The intake was to be at the north side of the Naches River three miles below the intake of the Selah Valley Canal; it was to cross the Naches by means of an immense inverted syphon, circle Moxee Valley, pass through the ridge east of Union Gap by a tunnel 6,100 feet long, continue down the Yakima Valley to Rattlesnake Mountain and pass around it to the lands overlooking the Columbia. It was to be 140 miles long and to carry at its head 2,000 second-feet water. Bumping Lake was to be used as a storage reservoir.
The Prosser Fall Irrigation Company spent much money in a project to irrigate the high lands south of the Columbia, by raising it 100 feet. The water supplied would have irrigated 4,000 acres, but they could not stem the financial depression, and in 1899 the company went into the hands of a receiver.
In 1892, the Cowiche and Wide Hollow Irrigation District held an election at which was carried by a vote of fifty-two to fifteen the proposition to bond the district for half a million dollars for the construction of an irrigation canal. The plan was to take water out of the Tieton River by a canal ten and one-half miles long and to distribute the same by three laterals, one to cover the Cowiche and Naches ridge, one the valley and a third the foothills. It was to cover 46,000 acres.
Nor were the activities limited to the Yakima-Benton country. The Kittitas Valley Irrigation Company surveyed a canal. The intake was at Easton from the Yakima River and portions were constructed previous to 1901. The Bull Ditch belongs to this portion of the late '80s. It takes its water from the Yakima, is seven miles long and serves 1,500 acres.
The Hawley Ditch, according to Professor Lyman (private letter), was the first in Walla Walla County, having been built in 1891 or 1892. We now have the West Side Ditch and the East Side Ditch with their sources in the Touchet River and combined length of about nine miles. These Hawley ditches serve 1,000 acres.
According to the Annual Report of the Bureau of Statistics, January 1, 1896, Kittitas County is estimated as having about 30,000 acres under ditches and 100,000 more irrigable.
The Wenatchee country has developed little, for there, like the Okanogan country, cattle raising was carried on, since the means of transportation were still lacking. Fifteen thousand acres are firstclass irrigable lands, of which not more than one-tenth were under irrigation in 1896. In 1891 Arthur Gunn, financially assisted by J. J. Hill, constructed the Gunn Ditch. The water was taken from
the Wenatchee River near Monitor, and about 12,000 acres irrigated.
A canal had by 1896 been constructed in Franklin County, utilizing the waters from the Palouse River, irrigating 6,000 acres. In Walla Walla County was built the canal which utilizes the water from the Walla Walla River. It covers 8,000 acres between Pasco and Wallula Junction.
The Spokane Falls Irrigation Company had twenty miles of main ditch and expected to serve 75,000 acres.
Douglas County had the Coöperative Irrigation Company whose canal extended twenty miles, and with the Moses Lake Irrigation Company, made that county among the active ones.
Though the Federal Government did much to encourage irrigation, it continued to give actual aid to the wards of the government living on the reservations. It was estimated by William Redman, engineer, in his report of June, 1897, that by constructing more lateral ditches, 50,000 acres could be irrigated from the system then in existence. This same year shows the main canal to be 12 45-100 miles long with a capacity of 210 second-feet with 11 and 8-10 miles of laterals; the Toppenish Canal to be 8 2-10 miles long with 1 86-100 miles of laterals with a capacity of 104 second-feet; the Waneto, a natural slough, 12 miles long. In 1896 the Government built the Irwin Canal, naming it after the then Indian agent. In 1894 Congress appropriated $30,000 for irrigating machinery and appliances on the Indian Reservation.
Connected with the Reservation was passed by Congress an interesting act, July 23, 1894, granting the Columbia Irrigation Company a right of way through the Indian Reservation provided that the grantee should at all times furnish the Indian allotees along said right of way with water sufficient for domestic and agricultural purposes of irrigation, and these rights should be free.
Yet in spite of our seemingly great development, state comparison reveals some surprising facts. Bulletin 16, Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of the Census, gives as follows: “In total of number of acres irrigated in 1889-1899-1902, as also in total number of farms, Washington stands lowest in state comparison—but Washington shows the greatest relative increase in the total construction cost of irrigation systems.” In 1902, Washington ranked ninth in number of irrigated farms; last in number of irrigated acres; ninth in constructive cost of system; last in length of main canal and ditches. The state had one-fourth of one per cent of its acreage un