History of the Buckeye Canal


            Although not widely known, the history of the Buckeye Canal reflects a dramatic story in the history and development of the arid regions of the American West.  Land and water form the sum and substance of the history and those who sought to acquire private land and put scarce and unpredictable amounts of water on it for beneficial use formed the essence of this history. 

It all started with a vision, shared by Malin M. Jackson, Joshua L. Spain, and Henry Mitchell, of a wonderful opportunity to utilize the abundance of water.  They discovered this water flowing 23 miles west of the junction of the Agua Fria River and the Salt River, situated in the central part of Maricopa County. 

In 1887 development work began on the irrigation system that was to supply the necessary water for what became known as the Buckeye Valley.  Despite economic and environmental challenges of enormous proportions, this enterprise, ultimately, turned once desolate acreage into highly productive agricultural land.

The system was first operated as a corporation serving as a common carrier from the date of construction until 1907 when negotiations were completed whereby the Valley land owners purchased the irrigation works outright.

            The Buckeye Irrigation Company, which, in 1907, after twenty years of fits and starts, emerged from the hopes and dreams of various irrigation speculators and would-be entrepreneurs, played the central role in this story of private capital harnessing the natural resources of the American West.  The struggles against alternative periods of flood and drought, economic downturns, and fiscal uncertainties, combined with shifting federal land and water policies, led Buckeye Valley settlers to seek their own solutions to securing, preserving, maintaining and delivering water to their agricultural lands. 

            For many years all of the water for irrigation of the approximately 20,000 acres of developed land was supplied from the regular flow of the Gila River, which drains more than half of the State, and is the largest stream in the State except for the Colorado River.  However, due to the many dams and up-stream users, irrigation wells had to be drilled to supply adequate water needed for all the land.  At the present, some of the water supply is being purchased as effluent from the City of Phoenix and others; thus, effluent, stream flow and pumps together provide the water to meet all the demand.

            We want to give homage to Malin M. Jackson, Joshua L. Spain, and Henry Mitchell for their foresight, determination and courage in developing the Valley irrigation system later known as “The Buckeye Irrigation Company.”  We also want to recognize our forefathers who pioneered in the development of the Valley and through their perseverance, founded the present Valley towns and communities that are good friendly places to enjoy life.


An Environmental and Historical Context:

Land and Water


As the area’s earliest European occupants, Spanish priests, soldiers, and civilian explorers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries took note of the inhospitable arid landscape and inadequate water supplies in the lower Gila River system. “With few major exceptions,” according to the distinguished historian of Mexico, Michael Meyer, “the water sources (the Rio Grande, the Colorado, the Fuerte, the Yaqui, and the Gila being among the most notable) which the Spanish dignified with the word “Rio” were scarcely rivers at all. Not even the largest (the Rio Grande) proved valuable for transportation and commerce either before or after the Spanish conquest.  Although scientific evidence suggests that they carried a larger flow than they do now, most rivers were not perennial; they ran only part of the year, trying their best to carry the excess of sudden summer rain or capturing the excess from an exceptional winter snow cover in the surrounding mountains.”  The more common pattern was for the water that reached them to sink quickly into the sandy bed and within a short distance to disappear from human sight.  On occasion, however, they ran partly on the surface,

then underground, protected from the evaporative powers of the environment, to be forced to the surface again by the geological structure of a given area.[1]

                 To place the concept of aridity in regional and historical context, with the exception of eastern Texas, the Mexican north, which the Spanish first encountered in the sixteenth century, was generally arid, semi-arid, and, on occasion, extremely arid.  The availability of water spelled the difference between desolation and abundance with countless variations between the two.  This vast desert region had been occupied continuously for several thousand years, but, in the mid-sixteenth century, the population density was low, perhaps less than two people per square mile.  Significantly, aridity increased as one moved west from Texas and Coahuila to New Mexico and Chihuahua, and then to Arizona and Sonora and southern California and Baja California.  With the exception of the higher elevations and coastal zones of the north, evaporation was high and humidity low.  The topography and natural vegetation doubtlessly reminded the first Spaniards of southern Spain.  They were not surprised that the sun could blister the land and crack the soil.  They fully understood the meaning of moisture deficiency and knew the critical challenges of aridity encouraged the development of a special kind of human society.  They, like their successors, the nineteenth century Anglo-American pioneers, were not surprised to learn that the labor of controlling the water and putting it to beneficial use could occupy much of the working day in the continuous struggle to forge an existence.

                 This vast region was much more varied and capricious than its counterparts in Andalucía and Castile. It had a wider range of altitudes, soils, animal life, drought resistant vegetation, and even more unpredictable cycles of annual rainfall. The mountains were more rugged and towering, and the canyons were more impenetrable.  Erosion and sedimentation bequeathed a physiography at once harsh and captivating—frightening yet alluring.  The rainy season extended from July to September but few areas of the desert received more than twelve or thirteen inches of precipitation per year.  In the drier parts, like the Gila River Valley, years of less than seven or eight inches were not uncommon.  The mountains of this inhospitable land captured most of the moisture carried by prevailing Pacific or Gulf of Mexico winds and left the valleys parched for most of the year.  The winter snow cover in the mountains was almost always insufficient to provide the lower elevations with a reliable source of water, except during the early spring thaw.[2]

            If these rivers, like the Gila, did not always carry sufficient water to reflect the desert sun, they nevertheless proved amazingly attractive, drawing the surrounding animal life and providing a modicum of moisture required for desert flora.  It was along rivers like the Gila, arroyos, and quixotic streams that most Indian populations (like the departed Hohokam) adapted to desert life.  The alluvial plains, ranging in width from a few feet to several miles were rich, and an unreliable source of water.  Here, too, Spanish towns, missions, and presidios would cling to a precarious existence.  And, as these two groups—the Spaniards and the Indians—were forced by physical and historical circumstance into increasingly closer contact; precious water soon came to dominate the varied contests for power and survival. 

Indeed, from the time of Fr. Eusebio Francisco Kino’s extension of the “Rim of Christendom” into the lower Santa Cruz and Gila Valleys in the 1690s, the Gila River played a prominent role as a transportation route—a land route--in furthering Spanish aims.[3]  Often, diarists noted the remnants of the Hohokam civilization that marked much of the lower reaches of the Gila from its confluence with the Salt.  Sergeant Juan Bautista de Escalante, on a reconnaissance of the Gila River Basin, in November of 1697, took note of ruins on the north side of the “irregular” river: “On the 18th we continued west over an extensive plain, sterile and without pasture; and at the end of five miles, we discovered, on the other side of the river (the Gila), other houses and edifices. The sergeant…swam over with two companions to examine them; and they said the walls were two yards in thickness, like those of a fort; and that there were other ruins about, but all of ancient date.”[4]

Later, in 1775-76, Don Juan Bautista de Anza led a colonizing expedition from Tucson to San Francisco. Fr. Pedro Font, who irritated Anza greatly, nevertheless kept the best diary of this historic expedition which followed the Santa Cruz to the Gila, then down to its confluence with the Colorado River.  The Gila River portion of the journey brought forth noteworthy observations of the its flow.  According to Font, there were Indian agricultural systems diverting water, dry stretches, and occasional deep reaches that coursed slowly down the streambed.  In effect, the Gila, in the fall of 1775, was intermittent and erratic, and in many reaches, dry.[5]  References to the Gila from the period of the Mexican Revolution (1810-1821) and through the Mexican period (1821-1848) vary little from the accounts of anemic flow with occasional destructive flooding and spring freshets.[6] 

Historians of American expansionism are unanimous in their interpretation of the primary objective in the War with Mexico (1846-1848): the acquisition of California.  With the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) and the subsequent Gadsden Purchase (1853) affirming American title to the land bisected by the Gila River, much changed in a legal, political, and social context.  Yet, the Gila continued to serve, as it had for centuries, as an overland transportation route. For the Mormon Battalion in 1846, and shortly thereafter for thousands of gold seekers, it worked well as a thoroughfare to California as the westward tilt of American civilization commenced in earnest. And with that, research in collections detailing American settlement and organization of these western territories lends insight into nature of the Gila River during the period 1848-1912. One of the largest and important groups of records created in relation to the Gila River prior to statehood were those of the U.S. government, particularly federal surveys conducted by the U.S. General Land Office, predecessor to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.


A Nineteenth-Century Federal Context:

Land Policy and the Arid West


From its origins in the mid-1880s and to the advent of Arizona statehood on February 14, 1912, Buckeye, Arizona grew and developed under the aegis of federal land policy rooted in the origins of the Republic.  Federal land law and its intent created impacts, local government structures, and private-public collaborations in this arid portion of the far Southwest that cannot be overestimated.  As originally conceived, there was an impressive coherence to American land policy.  The Land Ordinance of 1785, promulgated prior to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution four years hence, created procedures for the acquisition and distribution of public lands.  For example, after Indians ceded title to their lands to the federal government—whether by treaty, force, or coercion—surveyors would mark the land off into giant squares six miles on a side, and then subdivide them into sections of one square mile each. Each section, in turn, would contain four quarter-sections of 160 acres each.  The federal government would then sell this land, a tier of townships at a time, at public auction.  Any unsold land could be purchased at the land office at $2.00 an acre but this price was reduced to $1.25 an acre in 1820.

Significantly, the basic premise—left unquestioned until the end of the nineteenth century—was that the land system could best serve the country’s interest by putting public land into private hands.  In effect, the federal government served as a real estate agent rather than a landlord.  Incorporating the mutually reinforcing visions of Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, the orderly sale of public lands and their transformation into small farms would ensure a prosperous republican future for the United States; the American agrarian ideal. With public lands available, the United States would not imitate Europe and become a country of wealthy landlords and poor tenants.  Small freeholders would improve the land and thus create the wealth that would spur the economic development of the country as a whole.

Another relevant aspect to this policy concerned certain public benefits.  Not only would the land system promote the creation of prosperous republican society, but also it would endow society with some basic public infrastructure of schools, roads, and canals.  Under the Ordinance of 1785, the government reserved one section (number 16) in each township to provide income for the support of schools.  After 1848, Congress added a second section (number 36) for additional support of schools. Territories and states sometimes leased these lands and used the income for schools, but more often than not they sold them with the permission of Congress.[7]

Theoretically, this was an elegant system.  As Americans applied it on the lands across the Appalachians, they created a checkerboard landscape.  However, Congress repeatedly tinkered with it and between 1789 and 1834; it passed 375 different land laws.  It changed the minimum purchase, offered credit, and then decided to rescind credit sales.  Despite the well-intentioned modifications, the land system never matched reality.

Settlers moved faster than the surveyors and when the latter arrived to conduct their business, they often found settlers in place.  The settlers were, in fact, squatters, and their actions were illegal; they lived on land to which they had no title. The political problem created demanded government action and early nineteenth century politicians took sharply contrasting views of the situation.  To some, they were lawless vagabonds. To others, especially eastern and southern Whigs, prior to the Civil War, squatters not only used property to which they held no title, but also they subverted the civilized communities that the laws were intended to create.  To these conservative law and order types, the West would become a region of thinly scattered barbarians who took their livings off the richest lands but who were unable to support the essential institutions of the Republic.  These politicians sought to forestall the West’s descent into anarchy.

Westerners and most Democrats saw squatters differently and viewed them not as outlaws and criminals but noble pioneers of the American westward movement. If the squatters broke the law, they nevertheless fulfilled its intent.  The law intended to create a nation of capital-poor farmers who used the land to produce the very revenue necessary to buy the land.  Squatters raised crops, sold them, and only “borrowed” the land necessary to purchase it.  This activity cost the government nothing and allowed people to acquire property. It also prevented the growth of the landholding elite.  Squatters, their supporters suggested, actually maintained the social equality of the country. 

At this juncture, the squatters and their political supporters won the battle.  Democrats in Congress, led by Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri, succeeded in passing temporary preemption acts in the 1830s and then a permanent preemption act in 1841.  Preemption, put simply, was legalized squatting. Under these acts, squatters had first right to buy up to 160 acres of land on which they had made improvements.  When the government was ready to offer the land for sale, a squatter had to appear at the land office and pay the minimum price before the auction. 

The congressional debate over land law, in many ways, reflected the very nature of American society and how it would replicate itself in new territories.  To forge a workable land policy Congress had to somehow agree on a common vision for American society and land served as sort of a seal of approval for social consensus.  For example, when Americans agreed that soldiers were needed for war, they gave them land grants to encourage enlistment.  When they agreed that veterans should be rewarded, they gave them land grants.  When Congress agreed that the government should make rivers navigable or aid the states in building canals in order to facilitate commerce, it gave the states grants of lands that could be sold to pay for the improvement.

In effect, in what was a capital short and land rich country, Congress used its most fulsome asset, land, instead of money, to secure agree-upon public goals.[8]  Because Americans believed at how they distributed the public domain determined the kind of society they were creating, land policies, especially after 1850, deadlocked over the fundamental nature of American society. As the North and South struggled for dominance in the Union, they clashed over the distribution of land in the West. Southern congressman in the 1850s opposed any attempts at homestead legislation that would give free land to small farmers.  “Better for us,” declared one Mississippian, “that these territories should remain a waste, a howling wilderness, trod only by red hunters than be settled.”[9] Southerners believed that a homestead policy would only increase the number of “free farms with Yankees and foreigners pre-committed to resist the participancy (sic) of slaveholders in the public domain.”  Thus as Civil War historians assert, in the 1850s proposals for homestead acts, land grants for a Pacific railroad, and grants to establish agricultural and mechanical colleges fell victim to sectional divisions.  These enlightened initiatives promised to benefit the North at the expense of the South.

Legal Changes: The Homestead Act of 1862 and its Successors


When the South seceded from the Union and left Congress in the hands of northern Republicans did changes in the land system proceed. Socially and economically, the Republican party of the 1860s aspired to be the voice of a united homogenous North that maintained a utopian capitalist vision wherein labor was rewarded, individual opportunity prevented class distinctions from arising, and progress and growth were the national destiny. Republican congressmen, who spoke for northern farmers and workingmen as much as for northern capitalists, modified the land system to insure the replication of modern commercial farmers in the West.

During the Civil War the Republican land program revolved around three bills: the Homestead Act, the Pacific Railroad Grant, and the Morrill Act. These three laws, all passed in 1862, were supposed to complement and mutually reinforce each other.  The centerpiece, the Homestead Act, granted 160 acres of the public domain to citizens and non-citizens alike who would live upon the land and farm it. Northern farmers and labor reformers who followed the theories of George Henry Evans had long urged such a proposal for free grants of land to the children of northern farmers to begin lives as independent landowners in the West.[10]  By draining off unemployed workers, Evans theorized, the law would simultaneously raise the wages of eastern workers.

Accompanying the Homestead Act was an act providing a land grant for a Pacific railroad. The immediate goal, of course, was to tie the Pacific Coast to the Union, but Congress also recognized that railroads were necessary to give the farms provided by the Homestead Act access to markets. Congress acted quickly and granted lands and loans to the first transcontinental railroad entity in 1862 and made similar grants to other railroads in ensuing years.

The final part of the Republican triumvirate was the Morrill Act, which provided land grants for states to create a public system of higher education designed to serve farmers and skilled workers.  Congress granted lands that lay almost exclusively in the West, and the states could then sell them to fund state universities that would provide the new territories and states education for progress and advancement.   In the Homestead Act, Congress expected the American future to duplicate the American past. Congress embedded the ideal of a 160-acre farm in the Homestead Act. It was an ideal more suited to the East than the West and more appropriate for the American past than the American future.  Without irrigation, a quarter section farm in Arizona was not a ticket to independence but to starvation.  Congress presumed too, that all the land would be farmed and it made no exceptions or provisions for acquiring land for mining, logging, or grazing.

The terms of the Homestead Act were generous and straightforward; 160 acres of free land to any settler who paid a small filing fee and resided on and improved the land for five years.  If after six months of residency the settler wished to buy the land for $1.25 per acre, he or she could do so.   As it pertained to Buckeye settlers, purchasing the land was appealing to those interested in rapid development because once a settler obtained title the farm could be mortgaged and the money then used either to improve the homestead or to buy more land.  Originally, settlers could only homestead surveyed land, but in 1880, Congress extended the act to unsurveyed public domain land, thus signaling their intent to place as much public domain as possible into the private sector.

Advocates, like Horace Greeley, the leading Republican editor of the period, wrote in his New York Tribune, that the act embodied “one of the most beneficent and vital reforms ever attempted in any age or clime—a reform calculated to diminish sensibly the number of paupers and idlers and increase the proportion of working, independent, and self-subsisting farmers in the land evermore.”[11]

Congress continued to adapt land policy to the arid West and it crafted an even more realistic policy to the desert west in 1877 with the passage of the first Desert Land Act.  Under this law a person could obtain 640 acres of land—a full section—in any of eleven western states and territories for $1.25 per an acre if he or she agreed to irrigate it with three years of filing.  The law, however, reflected the general American ignorance of irrigation.  No settler could bring 640 acres into irrigation within three years.  Instead of helping settlers, the law was a boon to speculators.[12] 

The Desert Land Act at least indicated a willingness to recognize the need for irrigation on western land, but Congress continued to think of farm development as largely an individual effort.  Proponents of the legislation remained confident that once given a larger land grant by the government, settlers would find some way to irrigate the land. They believed that western farmers, aided by government land grants, would subdue the West as earlier generations of farmers had subdued the East.

For nearly one hundred years, then, federal land policy, in its various forms and incarnations, encouraged the transfer of the public domain to private hands, thus encouraging the development of a tax paying civilization.  In the arid West in general, and in central Arizona in particular, the acquisition of land and the development of scarce, yet valuable, water resources in the late nineteenth century, would create a dynamic situation that shaped the early development of Buckeye, Arizona and form its economic future.  Private enterprise and initiative, with the assistance of reactive federal policies encouraging settlement and individual initiative, influenced greatly the worlds of the earliest settlers in Buckeye, Arizona Territory.

Federal Surveys:

Buckeye Irrigation District, Land and Water to Arizona Statehood


Indeed, when the United States became the owner of the vast territory acquired from Mexico at the end of the Mexican War in 1848, they were anxious to determine the value of these new lands.  Moreover, they hoped to prepare the region for an orderly system of settlement. Thus, the federal government undertook formal surveys conducted by the U.S. General Land Office.  Because of the nature and specific detail of those surveys, the original plats of the area near the Gila River and the related survey field notes contain much information about the nature of the land and that stream.[13]

The U.S. government, seeking accuracy and consistency, issued a series of manuals beginning in 1851, to direct surveyor’s in their work.  The books’ provisions and how they changed over time, provided insight into the Gila’s navigability.  The 1851 Instructions to the Surveyor General of Oregon: Being a Manual for Field Operations directed how some of the earliest public land surveys were done in the American West.  The U.S. General Land Office adopted this manual to standardize survey work in California and Oregon which were the most significant areas of western American settlement in the 1840s.  The manual was the first formal federal survey handbook to provide guidance to surveyors mapping the public domain acquired from Mexico.  Previously, the government issued directions to surveyors in the field on an individual basis through Surveyors General assigned to specific territories.[14]

The first manual directed that public lands were to be subdivided into a series of ever-smaller grids within grids to allow the precise location of individual tracts. This system accomplished two things; it facilitated the disposal of the public domain in an orderly fashion and it recorded the characteristics of that land in specific detail.  The largest grids were to be six miles square and were to be created by the creation of township and range lines.  The process provided for the establishment of these large blocks were derived from the same procedures used in earlier public land territories and states.  The size of the blocks, moreover, were based on Thomas Jefferson’s original estimate that each block, composed of many small farms, would be the proper size to support a town at its center.[15]

Surveyors were also required to maintain field notes that were to include any notable features of the land including streams, lakes, roads, irrigations ditches, or other prominent landmarks.  Furthermore, the 1851 instructions contained several provisions that were relevant to navigable bodies of water and other obstructions and therefore were important in considering the navigability or non-navigability of the Gila River.  First, the instructions stated that when surveyors encountered impassable obstacles, such as ponds, swamps, marshes, lakes, rivers, creeks, etc.” they were to extend the survey line from the opposite side of the obstacle using triangulation or other surveying techniques.  Also, they were to take note of all of the particulars involved in the process.[16]  

Importantly, Land Office administrators provided surveyors with specific instructions when they encountered navigable bodies of water.  Special survey markers called “meander corner posts” were to be “planted at all those points where the township or section lines intersect the banks of such rivers, bayous, lakes, or islands, as are by law directed to be meandered.”[17]  Similarly, where township, range, section, or fractional section lines encountered bodies of water, witness posts were to be established if those watercourses were non-navigable.[18]

The U.S. General Land Office revised its manual in 1855 and 1864, with the latter year modifying instructions concerning how surveyor dealt with navigable and non-navigable bodies of water. Because surveys in Arizona began in 1868, it was these set of instructions that helped inform land policy and governed how bodies of water in the Arizona Territory were recorded.[19] Significantly, regarding meanders and navigable streams, the 1864 amendments added some important criteria to which streams would be meandered: “Rivers not embraced in the class denominated “navigable” under the statute…but which are well defined natural arteries of internal communication, and have a uniform width, will be meandered on one bank.”[20]

In May-June 1907, as Arizona approached statehood, a resurvey of township 1 north, range 2 west was completed by John F. Hesse.  He recorded no meander data in his field notes, but indicated that the stream was eighteen inches to two feet deep.  In his general description he wrote that the soil was “1st rate, and if supplied with water would raise abundant crops….The southwestern cor (sic). Of the township is settled and is well watered by the Buckeye Canal which runs through the township.” Equally compelling evidence concerning the marginal nature of the Gila River in 1907, was that the plat of this resurvey maintains no meander lines and no surveyor was identified as having done meanders. Additionally, no meander data appeared in the margins of the plat.  Finally, roads appeared paralleling the river, and several irrigation ditches are portrayed, including the Buckeye Canal.  Clearly, the water was being put to agricultural use and transportation was conducted on land and not water.[21]

As part of their duties, federal surveyors assessed and reassessed the navigability or non-navigability of the Gila River from its confluence with the Salt River to its mouth on the Colorado River between 1868 and 1912.  Moreover, the manuals and instructions were precise about how they conducted their work and how a navigable body of water was distinguished from a non-navigable one.  The areas along the Gila River were surveyed and resurveyed many times, at varying times of the year, in different years, and by many individuals.  Without variation from an overall theme, the repeated conclusion was that the Gila River was a non-navigable stream.

Other agencies, state and federal, as well as other sources—reminiscences, newspaper accounts, and independent studies—further attest to the Gila’s status at statehood. While the U.S. General Land Office records provide important evidence, the published and unpublished accounts of the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (this agency was called the U.S. Reclamation Service for the period under consideration), further affirm and duplicate the conclusions of Land Office surveyors that the Gila’s essential nature. These agencies, both within the Department of Interior, were involved primarily with water resource development in the American West during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and their records cover the nature of the Gila River before and at the time of Arizona statehood.[22]

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and its predecessor agencies began analyses of the West’s resources in earnest in the early 1870s.  In 1871, for example, George Montague Wheeler, an ambitious engineer in the Engineer Corps in the U.S. Army, commenced what became known as the United States Geographical Surveys Beyond the 100th Meridian.  Wheeler’s Survey was an attempt to divide the West into ninety-four enormous geodetic quadrangles and within this framework to construct, in systematic fashion, a definitive map of the country. Each of these measures, though necessarily involving a degree of duplication, was thought by the War Department to be important in its own right and the best service it could afford to the cause of western expansion.  In many ways, Wheeler’s Survey, which was commissioned to accomplish the tasks outlined above in gaining topographical information about Nevada and Arizona, also assessed the region’s resources, climate, and other qualities that might affect homesteaders under the Homestead Act of 1862.[23]

In his report to Congress, Wheeler noted several streams in Arizona, including the Gila.  He omitted any mention of navigability for this river, but commented that boats had made it upriver all the way to Camp Mohave.  That observation notwithstanding, Wheeler remained pessimistic about reliable river transportation in the arid Southwest: “River transportation upon our western coast, is to a great extent, a failure….that furnish somewhat irregular avenues of connection with the interior, no streams of considerable magnitude exist; river transportation, even in this very American age, loses its great power when pitted against the railroads.”[24]

Thereafter, the USGS annual reports addressed the conditions of rivers in the arid west and in 1888, the agency’s director, John Wesley Powell, commenced the “Powell Irrigation Surveys.”  The sum and substance of these surveys found their way into the annual USGS reports and some representative selections reflect the nature of the Gila River at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century.  The Twelfth Annual Report of the U.S. Geological Survey, published in 1891, for example, addresses directly the Gila and its erratic nature: “water is derived from the Gila River and its tributaries by means of canals and ditches, which distribute it to the fields of each farmer…these fields fluctuate greatly, being at times subject to sudden floods, especially during summer rains, when they often sweep out bridges, dams and canal head works, while at other times they may diminish until the water almost disappears.”[25]

Concerning floods, the report referenced above described massive torrents and dramatic shifts in the flow of the river: “The floods of the Gila are usually short and violent….During a freshet the river rises in some places 8 to 12 feet, and increases in width from 300 feet to a mile and one-half.  It is sometimes impassable for weeks, and has the appearance in places of a sea of muddy water.  The season of low water occurs during the months of June and July, the river bed being then dry in places.”[26]

In addition to annual reports, USGS published a series of well-known “Water Supply Papers.” These studies further affirm the erratic, undependable, and unpredictable nature of the Gila. Report of Progress of Stream Measurements for the Calendar Year 1905, Part XI, Colorado River Drainage Above Yuma, U.S. Geological Survey Water Supply Paper No. 175,[27] revealed that the river “flows in a channel fully 1 mile north of the original channel…At every flood the channel shifts. The valley at its narrowest is half a mile wide and the waters may occupy any part or all of it…. [the river] contains an enormous amount of mud and sand. At times the waves of sand traveling along the bed of the stream are so large, the current so swift, and the stream so shallow, that the water is broken into a uniform succession of waves 2 feet high and over.”[28]

Doubtlessly, the most significant and detailed description and analysis of flooding on the Gila was published as U.S. Geological Survey Water Supply Paper No. 162, published in 1906, adding further information about the Gila’s eclectic and erratic character.  Destructive Floods in the United States in 1905, with a Discussion of Flood Discharge and Frequency Index to Flood Literature assessed and analyzed the pernicious floods that occurred throughout the western U.S., including five floods on the Gila.  In assessing the five floods of 1905, the authors asserted, “The total run-off for the five months is 2,957,400 acre-feet.  To appreciate the magnitude of the run-off on this stream during this period it is necessary to remember that this stream is usually dry at this place about ten months of the year….[The streambed] not only scours out during a flood and fills in after it, but [the channel] changes from one side of the bottom to the other….This continual changing of the river bed has made it exceedingly difficult to secure reliable estimates of the rate of flow, and some of the estimates may be largely an error.”[29]

Additional compelling evidence concerning the Gila is found in U.S. Geological Survey Water Supply Paper No. 1049.  This study provided an overall summary of the records of surface waters for the lower Colorado River basin between 1888-1938; a fifty year period embracing statehood.  Importantly, these records included records for the Gauging station near Dome, Arizona (Gila City), close to the mouth of the Gila River.  There, the discharge ranged from nothing to well over 100,000 cubic feet per second.[30]

Final, yet equally telling, dimensions to the USGS materials pertaining to the Gila are the unpublished records.  The notes and the unpublished progress reports of George M. Wheeler, mentioned earlier, exemplify further the nature of the Gila up to the time of statehood.[31]    Later unpublished USGS records confirmed Gila’s inability to support commercial navigation.  The Director, writing on February 14, 1911—exactly one year prior to statehood—reported upon the application of the Southwestern Arizona Fruit and Irrigation Company to dig a canal from the Gila.  Referring to a survey made earlier and a subsequent report concerning another canal company, the director concluded: “The same conditions exist regarding the Southwestern Arizona Irrigation Company’s project, and in brief are that no power possibilities exist, but the sufficiency of the water supply is extremely questionable.  On account of the appropriations above, the only water available at this site is that of occasional extreme floods, and the underflow and seepage water from upstream, the amount of which is very uncertain.  The proposed reservoir is of such small capacity as to have little value for storing flood waters.”[32]

E. C. Murphy’s USGS survey—an unpublished report dated April 1915 on potential hydroelectric power sites in Arizona--depicts the Gila’s status at statehood.  The report was based on data accumulated immediately prior to statehood but drafted after Arizona joined the Union.  Moreover, this report had been written to conform to the 1910 Enabling Act allowing Arizona to join the other forty-six states.[33]  Part 2 of the report dealt with the Gila River.  Murphy noted that the Gila drained about 70,000 square miles in Arizona, New Mexico, and Mexico but allowed that it had “a very small run-off at the mouth except during very wet periods.”  He continued, “On account of the erratic character of the precipitation, the use of the water for irrigation, and the depth and porosity of the valley, the minimum flow in the valleys along the Gila is very small and uncertain.”   He added: “In all these valleys there is no surface flow at certain places during the low water period of dry years.  The surface flow may be 0 at one place, there may be several second feet at some distance below due to seepage from irrigated lands, or a reduction in cross section of the ground water channel.”[34]

In assessing water supply for hydroelectric power, Murphy viewed the Gila with a degree of skepticism.  The river, he explained, “was partly an underground stream rising and sinking according to local formations.  There is abundant evidence of this fact from Clifton…to Gila Bend, Arizona.  In each of the valleys between these places the Gila is dry for a few days nearly every year…” He elaborated upon this: “The stream flows through a broad, flat valley in a broad, sandy channel.  It is dry for a month or longer each year at Florence, and below Gila Bend it is dry all the time except for the large and long continued floods.”[35]  The implications of Murphy’s narrative can scarcely be ignored; the Gila River was an erratic, unreliable stream.

Adding to this volume of evidence are the records of the U.S. Reclamation Service during the period under discussion.  Following congressional passage of the New lands Reclamation Act (1902), many of the duties of the hydrographic branch of USGS passed to the newly created Reclamation Service.  The new agency was charged with the responsibility of selecting reservoir and flood control locations throughout the West, as well as constructing the attendant dams and irrigation works.  The Gila, like most western streams, received Reclamation Service scrutiny.[36]

Significantly, the first Annual Report of the Reclamation Service, published in 1902, maintained that irrigation in the drainage basin of the both the Gila and Salt, had already been developed to such a point that there was insufficient water for lands.   The initial report, furthermore, was representative of subsequent reports throughout the decade and specified that the Gila was a particularly poor candidate for reclamation efforts: “The sources from which water may be obtained for reclamation of the arid lands in Arizona are, taken as a whole, the most erratic or irregular in the entire country.  There are comparatively few rivers that flow throughout the year.  Most of the tributaries of Gila River, beginning in the mountains as perennial streams, lost their waters in the broad open valleys.”[37]

A U.S. Department of Agriculture study corroborates the records of the U.S. Land Office, USGS, and Reclamation Service.  The University of Arizona’s Agricultural Experiment Station, which was overseen by the Department of Agriculture, undertook a study that was completed in 1911.  It addressed Arizona’s major industries, transportation, climate, water supply, and agricultural land.  Crafted by R. H. Forbes, this report first addressed the territory’s industries, and then turned to the transportation entities.  The transportation section was noteworthy because it bore upon the Gila River at about the time of statehood. “By reason of its isolation,” Forbes mused, “Arizona is dependent upon its transportation facilities to an unusual degree.  These consist chiefly of three great railroad systems, which, in order of their construction, are the Southern Pacific, the Santa Fe, and the El Paso and Southwestern.  The Santa Fe crosses the northern tier of counties from east to west, and with its branches opens up the mining and lumbering districts of the more elevated half of the Territory.”  Importantly, he added, “The Southern Pacific runs a roughly parallel course south of the Gila River, and its feeders tap the rich mining districts and the warmer irrigated valleys at lower altitudes.  The El Paso and Southwestern road affords an outlet for the copper mines of southeastern Arizona and northern Mexico.  A few steamboats of shallow draft ply the Colorado River, and in remote localities freighting with teams is still practiced.”  Thus, as of 1911, Forbes listed only the Colorado as having any type of regular navigation.[38]  

Forbes also addressed directly the nature of surface streams in his 1911 report.  The Gila, he wrote, was “a comparatively small and irregular stream, due to its arid watershed and uncertain rainfall, although occasionally it carries enormous floods.  Since the appropriation of its upstream waters for irrigation its lower courses (from the confluence of the Salt to the Colorado) are often dry for months in succession….It may be stated summarily that the fluctuations in water supply become more and more extreme from the source to the mouth of the Gila.”[39]

Another layer of proof concerning the Gila’s non-navigability concerns U.S. congressional actions regarding homestead laws, particularly the Homestead Act of 1862 and the Desert Land Act of 1877 noted earlier, that were designed to facilitate the settlement of newly acquired land in the West.  These laws resulted in thousands of federal patents being issued to settlers who were determined to establish homes and farms in the arid reaches of the West.[40]  

Importantly, from 1862 to 1912, none of the federal patents that overlay the Gila River maintained any provisions for reserving the bed of the river to Arizona. And, according to Douglas Littlefield, “There is no evidence that Arizona, upon statehood, chose lands in lieu of those previously patented upon the river bed—which the state would have been entitled to do had the river been navigable.[41]

In the years following statehood in 1912, Arizona’s officials confronted the enormous task of disposing millions of acres given to the state by the federal government.  To facilitate this, the Arizona State Legislature, in special session in 1915, created an initial version of the Public Land Code, laying out the manner in which the state would dispose of its public land.  In Township 1 North, Range 1 West, Section 32, State Patent number 219, for example, was sold to the Buckeye Irrigation Company on September 24, 1918.  The appraisers’ report indicated that the “intake and sand gates of the Buckeye Irrigation Co’s canal lie upon this tract.” The application also reported that “the grazing land is in the river bottom.”  Moreover, the “Gila River flows over south part of forty.” These comments make it clear that the Gila River ran through this parcel. Nevertheless, the state did not reserve any acreage for its sovereign rights under the Equal Footing Doctrine, patenting the entire forty acres for the company. A contiguous tract, Patent 6353, south of the Buckeye Irrigation Company’s land, also did not have any acreage reserved for the state’s sovereign rights. Finally, the only patent overlaying the river in Section 31 was to James L. King by the State of Arizona on March 30, 1978.  King received 159.66 acres lying in the north half of the northeast corner.  Notably, the Gila River ran directly through this parcel, yet none of its acreage was reserved for the sovereign right of Arizona.  These facts indicate that the Buckeye Canal Company and the private lands it served were uncontested in their status. [42]

In nearly one hundred separate patents that the federal government granted to private citizens and private entities, in not one case did any of these patents or the supporting files suggest that acreage was withheld due to possible ownership of the bed by the State of Arizona.  In each case where patents were applied for, several parties expressed implicit opinions on the navigability of the Gila through a request for lands through which the river flowed.  They were awarded these lands.  Significantly, literally hundreds of people—federal employees, patentees, and witnesses made judgments concerning the Gila River’s navigability, or rather, its non-navigability. 

Similarly, the patents awarded by the State of Arizona to private citizens and parties, like the Buckeye Irrigation Company, for land through which the river flowed provided another example and perspective. Indeed, if the state believed it owned the bed and banks of the river, it certainly would have considered the stream’s navigability in disposing of those lands.  Yet, according to State Land Department records, there were more than sixty instances in which Arizona chose to sell lands that lay in the riverbed.  Thus, collectively, federal patents, Congressional grants to Arizona, and state patents to individuals and private parties, lead to the conclusion that the federal government and the state government considered the Gila River non-navigable and the Buckeye Irrigation Canal was a private sector entity.


History of the Buckeye Canal

By I.H. Parkman

Chapter 1


            The following history of the Buckeye Canal is written from a long personal knowledge and from talking with old timers that were here from the beginning and from old records that have lately come in my possession and are not on file with the historical paper of the Buckeye and West Gila Valley Old Settlers Union:

            On a spring day in 1885 three men hooked a team of horses to a wagon and loading in beds, cooking utensils and a supply of food left Phoenix and headed west.  These men were Malin M. Jackson, Joshua L. Spain and Henry Mitchell.  Following the old Yuma freight road to the Agua Fria River 18 miles until they reached the Gila River.  They looked over the land adjacent to that stream seeking some place that would be easy to develop an irrigation system.  Returning to Phoenix a little later, they made a second trip down and investigated some land on the south side of the Gila.  But not being satisfied with the outlook there, they returned to the north side to a point near and just west of where the Agua Fria flows into the Gila River and there made location of a dam site and canal heading.  Not having brought pencil or paper with them and fearful that some one might beat them to the location they proceeded to post a notice anyway, by taking an ax and hewing a smooth flat place on a willow tree and with charcoal wrote their location notice that would serve for the time being.  Hurrying back to Phoenix, they prepared a notice and building themselves a triangle, returned to the place and posted a legal notice May 28, 1885.

            Taking their triangle, they proceeded to run a level over the first three miles to see if they could get the water out on the land.  Henry Mitchell operated the machine, the other men helping.

            For the benefit of those who do not know, a triangle is made out of one by four lumber in the form of a letter A with the cross bars near the bottom.  The two legs are generally 16 to 20 feet apart at the bottom.  From the apex of the A, a cord with a weight called a plumb bob attached was suspended.  By placing the feet of a triangle on stakes driven down in a pond of water so the top of the stakes were at the exact water level, the string and plumb bob would hand at the exact center on the cross bar of the triangle.  This was marked on the cross bar and now by raising one leg an inch at a time the plumb bob swing was marked on the cross bar at each rise.  Then the operation was reversed and the other side marked, thus giving the operator a complete scale to determine the rise or fall of the land at each set.  As the machine had to be set each 20 feet and the proper calculations made at each set, it will readily be seen what a slow tedious operation it was to tune the three miles.  But they satisfied themselves that their project was feasible, and returned to Phoenix and filed their notice of location in the recorder’s office June 30, 1885.

            The notice of location stated that – “the head of said ditch commencing in an old slough immediately under the high bank on the north side of the Gila River and then westward about one fourth of a mile and then turns northward, leaving the river band and running north-westerly passing Taboo Point on the Gila Rive.”

            The purpose of the canal of ditch was said to be “for agricultural, milling or mechanical enterprises.”  Twelve thousand inches of water was located and claimed by the locators and a right of way over the public domain forty feet wide to the Hassayampa creek on which to build their canal.

            It was named the “Buckeye Canal” by Mr. Jackson in honor of his native state, Ohio, “the Buckeye State.”

            In September, 1885, M. E. Clanton and others organized the Buckeye Canal Company and had the new company articles of organization recorded with the territorial’s secretary, on September 25th, 1885.  The new company paid the original locators $300 for their interest.  The work of building the canal was taken up and Mr. T. N. Clanton was awarded the contract of the first five miles. 

            An engineer by the name of Berry was employed to make the survey.  E. H. (Pompey) Spain acted as head linesman on the survey.

            On July 24th, 1886 the Buckeye Canal Company filed notice of location of 38,000 inches more water to be added to the 12,000 originally claimed by the first locators, making a total of 50,000 inches.  This location was recorded at Phoenix, the county seat October 8th, 1886.

            The original canal survey extended from the dam at the Agua Fria River to the Lower End of Arlington near the present Gillespie Dam and was completed to the Hassayampa in the latter part of 1886.  The water was to be carried across the Hassayampa River by means of a sand dam built across the river four or five feet high.  The water ran in above the dam until the dam was full and then it ran out on the other side.  This means of carrying water across the river was maintained for many years although the dam was washed out every time a little flush of water came down the Hassayampa.

            On October 28th, 1888, the Buckeye Canal Company entered into a contract with William (Buckey) O’Neil to sell and transfer to him all their rights and title to the 50,000 inches of water that they had filed an appropriation with the exception of 6,000 inches that they had already appropriated and was represented by 75 shares of stock which had been previously issued.

            These 75 shares of stock to have first and prior rights in the canal up to the amount of 6,000 inches.

            On October 13th, 1888 William O’Neil had formed a company to be known as the Buckeye Irrigation Company, and on the 31st day of October, he transferred his lately acquired title to the Buckeye Canal Company to the newly formed company.

            They took up the work of extending the canal from the Hassayampa to the lower end of the present Arlington Valley.

            On this same date, October 13th, the company entered into a contract with O’Neil to construct a good substantial dam at the head of the canal across the Gila River sufficient to divert at least 6,000 inches of water therefrom into the canal at all times for the benefit of the 75 share holders in the old Buckeye Canal Company, and to deliver them free the 6,000 inches of water for a period of 21 years and thereafter at a price not to exceed $1.00 per inch per year.  The said company further agreed to keep the water in the canal at least 20 days out of every month except in the years of 1889 and 1890 when they might turn all the water out to enlarge and extend the canal.  Their contract was signed and recorded on October 26th, 1888.

            On the 10th day of December 1888, the Buckey Irrigation Company executed a mortgage to the Union Trust Company of New York and on the 31st day of January, 1889 a supplement mortgage was added calling for the issuance of $301,000 in bonds to be issued by the Irrigation Company to the Trust Company presumably to be used in extending and enlarging the canal and building a substantial dam.

            On March 1, the Buckeye Canal Company made an official transfer for all canal property to the Buckeye Irrigation Company as they had fulfilled all the requirements they had entered into in a former contract with the Irrigation Company.

            On June 28th, 1888 the law firm of Baker and Campbell of Phoenix rendered the following opinion as to the title of the Buckeye Canal Company to 50,000 inches of water in the Gila River.


Phoenix, June 28th, 1888

Mr. William O’Neil

Prescott, Arizona Territory


Dear Sir:

            Upon examination we find Malin Jackson and J. L. Spain on the 28th day of May 1885 legally appropriated 12,000 inches of water of the Gila River and thereafter on the 30th day of September 1885 duly transferred all their rights in said location to the Buckeye Canal Company.

            Upon the 28th day of July, 1886, the Buckeye Canal Company legally appropriated 38,000 inches of water made by valid and legal location.  No one can successfully by litigation prevent the Buckeye Canal Company from using 50,000 inches of water appropriated when it has constructed a canal capable of carrying it all.


                                                            Baker and Campbell


The following opinion was prepared and presented by E. T. Edwards, an attorney of Phoenix.


Phoenix, March 8, 1889

            This is to certify that I have this day examined the foregoing abstract of title and the opinion of Messrs. Baker and Campbell attached thereto and I concur in their opinion.  And I further testify that in my opinion the foregoing mortgage to the Union Trust Company of New York by the Buckeye Irrigation Company is a first lien on the property of the Buckeye Canal Company and 50,000 inches of water, etc., subject to the prior rights of the old Buckeye stockholders to 6,000 inches of water as stated in said abstract.

                                                            Very respectfully,

                                                            E. T. Edwards Attorney at Law


On Jan. 9, 1889 Major Edward H. Wilton reported to William O’Neil, secretary of the Buckeye Irrigation Company, “that in “pursuance of instruction of December 22nd, 1888, he had made a survey of the Buckeye Canal with a view of enlarging it to a capacity of 50,000 inches to irrigate 100,000 acres of land.  He reported that a canal to carry 50,000 inches of water would have to be 50 feet on the bottom; six feet deep and a grade of 1.58 feet per mile (about 22 inches) with a bank slope of 1 to 1.  That the capacity of the present head gate was about 9,000 inches with a dam raise of the water in the river of 2.3 feet.”  He goes on to make recommendations about a dam on top the present one and in regards to a new dam a quarter of a mile up stream and as to width the availability of rock, etc. and winds up saying: “the location of the head of the canal is the best in the valleys of the Salt and Gila Rivers as it catches all the water from the Salt and Verde and Gila Rivers, and also of the Agua Fria and Cave Creek; in fact, it catches the drainage of northern and northeastern Arizona, northwestern and western New Mexico and northeastern Sonora (Mexico).  A vast territory larger than all the New England States.”

            He submitted an estimate of enlarging the canal to the Hassayampa, a distance of 23.84 miles, building the dam, enlarging head gates, etc. at $107, 040.

            The Major goes on and says, “I claim that the land under the Buckeye Canal is far ahead of the Salt River Valley.  West of the Hassayampa water is near the surface and at Mullins Well only 4 feet from the surface.  In section 17, 21, 26 or 27, Township 1 North, Range 5 West, I have a fall for water power of 40 ft.

            “I look at this place as far ahead of the section around Phoenix, as a fruit country, the soil is better, the altitude as good or better, no winters, and scarcely any frost, during the last two winters.  This country would have been settled up long ago but for the Gila River washing out all the canals in 1883 and 1884 on account of their bad location and bad construction.”

            After saying all these nice things about the country, he went on to say that a canl 48 miles long could be constructer for $225, 907 and it would cover 29,120 acres east of the Hassayampa and west 34,580 acres west of surveyed land and 48,000 acres of unsurveyed land making a total of 111, 700 acres.

            In December 1888 and January 1889, William Barnes, president of Buckeye Irrigation Company and Charles N. Fowler, president of the Equitable Mortgage Company of Kansas City entered into a verbal discussion in regards to providing the necessary money to finance the enlargement of the canal and a new and more substantial dam.    The matter was brought before the Board of Directors of the mortgage company in Kansas City and a very lengthy letter was dispatched to Mr. Barnes on January 23rd, 1889.  Some of the highlights of the letter follow.  (It seems that irrigation bonds were something new at the time and the Irrigation Company deal with the Union Trust company of New York had been called off, hence this new attempt to get money to finance the canal enlargement.)  Extracts from the letter follow: “Honorable William Barnes: We have certainly considered the Buckeye ditch matter and while we appreciate the intrinsic merit of the Bonds, we feel as though we should also recognize the fact that Bonds of their character are quite unusual and that it may be difficult to find purchasers for them.  We, of course, must look upon them from the standpoint of sellers and compare them with other securities of equal or not very different merit, but about which the public is quite well informed.”  They go on to say, “6 per cent bonds are now being purchased from fruit lands at from 80 to 90.”

            They then proposed to advance $30,000 upon its note each month at 6% interest until sufficient had been advanced to complete the work up to $240,000 when at such time the Irrigation Company should turn over to them the whole issue of $300,000 in bonds and $120,000 in stock as collateral for the loan.

            They also reserved the right to investigate at any time, during the progress of the work, to determine if all the money advanced was going into the construction and necessary repairs.
            Mr. Barnes in his answer to the Mortgage Company’s letter stated, “That he had hoped for better terms but the credit of your company would be of advantage to us in addition to the loan of money.  The speedy commencement of the work is also an urgent necessity with us.  I, therefore, as president of the Buckeye Irrigation Company accept your proposal, subject to the approval of our board of directors.”

            Shortly after this exchange of letters, Mr. Barnes whose headquarters were in New York and Mr. H. P. Churchill of Kansas City, as a representative of the Mortgage Company made a trip to Arizona and Mr. Churchill made an elaborate report to his company on his findings in regard to the canal and country on March 3rd, 1889.

            Some extracts from his report follow: “Arizona courts recognize the first appropriation in a river of all the water appropriated up to extent of his appropriation: an inch of water in Arizona is considered enough to irrigate two acres of land-after land has been irrigated a few years an inch will irrigate three to four acres; to the ability of the Buckeye Irrigation Company, to continuously and perpetually supply the amount of water its appropriation entitles it to.  I enclose a map showing its watershed of about 30,000 square miles.  The annual rain fall around Salt River Valley is 7.5 inches while in the vicinity of Prescott it is 15.18 inches.

            The extent of the area drained-and the known annual rainfall-assures beyond doubt of a permanent supply of water far in excess of the appropriation.

            The strategic location of the Buckeye Dam at a point just below the junction of the Salt and Gila rivers and the Agua Fria enables the Buckeye Company to command the water of the entire watershed.

            “As the Salt and Gila Rivers are the largest rivers in Arizona and as the Buckeye is the only canal that commands their united volume, it is in my opinion and must remain the most valuable canal property in Arizona.”

            “I was amused at the wonderful products of the valley, alfalfa produces 5 to 6 crops a year, everything nearly, which the temperature zones and tropics produce are produced here-and it is confidently predicted that at no distant day this valley will take a higher rank in its fruit products than California.”

            Mr. Churchill then goes into a lengthy array of figures of what the yearly income from the proposed canal system would be from the sale of water and water rights.  He winds up his report by recommending the loan as a good investment.

            After some more correspondence between Mr. Barnes and the Mortgage Company offices, a contract was drawn up by the Mortgage Company with about the same proposal that was made at first, only the sum to be advanced each month to be $24,000 instead of the $30,000 and remain in the Mortgage Company’s possession, and draw 3% interest until expended and the Irrigation Company was to set aside in a sinking fund one half of all monies received from the sale of water and stock to pay off the mortgage bonds when they became due.

            On April 9th, 1889, A. W. Chamberlin, general solicitor for Equitable Mortgage Company reported to Charles N. Fowler, president of the Mortgage Company that the Irrigation Company’s affairs were all in good shape and carried out legally in every respect.  But he had unearthed another problem that might be detrimental to the loan.

            The United States Congress passed an Act on October 2nd, 1888 to become effective June 30th, 1889 where: “All lands which hereafter may be designated or selected by United States surveys for sites for reservoir, ditches or canal for irrigation purposes and all lands made susceptible of irrigation by such reservoirs or ditches of canals are from this time henceforth reserved from sale as the property of the United States, and shall not be subject after the passage of the act, to entry settlement or occupation until further provided by law.  Provided that the President may at any time in his discretion by proclamation open any portion or all the lands reserved by this provision to settlement under the homestead laws.”  Mr. Chamberlin further writes that as this would without question apply to the Buckeye District, the homesteads or entry men could not gain title to their land, or file on m ore so he states with these facts sharing one in the face it would be hardly wise to invest directly or indirectly in the Buckeye Canal.”

However, the significant congressional intervention concerning land laws and evolving federal irrigation policy delayed the loan package.  The events in Washington D.C. resonated in the Buckeye Valley and caused A.W. Chamberlin, the general solicitor for Equitable Mortgage, to take a second look at loaning the money to the private group.  In fact agitation throughout the arid West, what some historians have labeled “a perfect storm of indignation and protest,” induced Congress to take up the subject of irrigation legislation during the last year of the first Grover Cleveland administration.  In fact westerners were so vocal that Congress responded by taking up irrigation as a national work and have the government construct the reservoirs, ditches, and canals at its own expense, and, at the same time dispose of the lands under these sites to settlers.  The work of selecting the sites was assigned by the Act of October 2, 1888, also known as the Segregated Reservoir Sites Act of 1888, to the Geological Survey under the direction of the Secretary of Interior.[43]  In essence, the 1888 Act reserved all the land that “may” be designated as conducive for irrigation development and had the practical effect of reserving all of the public lands in the West from public settlement.  Certainly, this had a chilling effect on private lenders, like Equitable.

            Fortunately for private investors Congress quickly realized they went too far and it took corrective action during the administration of President Benjamin Harrison.  A series of acts, beginning with the Act of August 30, 1890, which had the effect of repealing the Act of October 2, 1888, and Section 17 of the Act of March 3, 1891, promulgated the new, more rational policy that harmonized with the settlement history in Buckeye and other arid portions of the Far West.  The 1891 law provided for the reservation of reservoir sites by the government “shall contain only so much land as is actually necessary for the construction and maintenance of reservoirs, excluding so far as practicable land occupied by actual settlers at the date of location of said reservoirs.” Indeed settlers poured into the western U.S. in the 1890s, these more business sector-oriented federal statutes played a significant role in the Buckeye Irrigation Company, canal construction, and the development of private lands under the project.[44]

            As federal lawmakers continued their efforts to forge a workable formula for putting water to beneficial use in the arid western territories and states, Buckeye leaders and the Equitable Mortgage Company continued their financial efforts, though the recent federal actions tended to alter the previously heady atmosphere.  Nevertheless the parties intended to “supply sufficient money to put in a dam and improve and enlarge the already going canal and that by the time the law [Act of 1888] would be clarified or repealed by Congress and that they could go ahead and finish the work.”[45]  More financial negotiations, two surveys, and lobbying of territorial officials, including gaining the support of Governor Lewis Wolfley resulted in a more carefully configured plan for expansion that would bring over 123,000 acres of land under cultivation.


            Mr. Churchill, who had done most of the dickering about the loan with Mr. Barnes, Left the United States for a short time just at the time Mr. Chamberlin made his report and upon his return again took up the matter with Mr. Barnes as he did not agree with Mr. Chamberlin’s interpretation of the law.  The result was that he suggested to Mr. Barnes that the Mortgage Company supply sufficient money to put in the dam and improve and enlarge the already going canal and that by the time the law would be clarified or repealed by Congress and that they could then go ahead and finish the work.  Several nationally known law firms were consulted; among them Hobbs and Gifford of New York, they said, “They did not think the Act of Congress has the effect to prevent the location of water rights and the building of reservoirs, ditches and dams for the purpose of irrigation by private enterprises.”

            In September and October, 1889, Donald W. Campbell, consulting engineer and George W. Hobbs as lawyer for the Equitable Mortgage Company, made a visit to Arizona and the Buckeye country and spent considerable time looking over the situation and lay of the country.  On November 2nd, 1889 Mr. Campbell made a lengthy and comprehensive report to the company finding.  “The cost of construction is a low rate per acre-and the enterprise is a remarkably good one.”

            A table of estimated receipts and expenditures was attached, showing that there was more land covered by the canal than could be cared for by the water appropriated.  He listed 132,960 acres as the total of all lands under the canal.

            His estimate of constructing 41 miles of main canal and 20 miles of laterals was $232,660.

            Dam                                        $53,163

            Levee                                     $12,235

            Headgates & other               $38,100

            Bridges                                  $10,000

            Engineering                          $12,000

            Office & Travel                     $14,642

            Interest on 1 Year Bonds     $37,200

            Total Cost                              $456,000


He estimated the first year’s income at $257,500, mostly from the sale of not less than 20,000 acres of water rights at $12.50 per acre or $250,000, and from the sale of 10,000 acre-feet of water at $0.75 or $7,500.  From these totals he deducted an estimated expense of $76,500 leaving a total of $180,800 to be placed in a sinking fund to pay off the bonds for constructing the project when they became due.  He figured the total project could be paid off in five years.  In February, 1890 a verbal agreement was entered into between the representative of the Mortgage Company and William Barnes and William O’Neil for the Buckeye Irrigation Company in which the Mortgage Company would organize a new company with a capital stock of $1,000,000 and that they would turn over to Barnes and O’Neil $400,000 of this stock and retain the other $600,000.  And the Mortgage Company agreed to furnish the new company a sum not exceeding $600,000 for the construction and completion of the canal system as outlined by Engineer Donald W. Campbell and buy the new bonds at 80% par value at 7% interest.

            On May 9th, 1890, Mr. Campbell made another report to the Mortgage Company and said that his assistant had completed another survey to the 61st mile.

            From the record as far as we are able to learn the new survey took the canal in a big circle crossing the Hassayampa River, taking most of want we now know as the Centennial Wash District and coming out on the top of the hill at Gillespie Dam where the records show it was 138 feet above the river bed and about 48 feet above a dam proposed by Governor Wolfley at this place.  There it was to cross the river in a seven foot siphon 3600 feet long and cover 53,000 acres on the east and south side of the river.  Mr. Campbell’s estimate for this construction was $415,716 and it would bring 123,000 acres under irrigation.

            On February 1st, 1890 Walnut Grove Dam on the Hassayampa broke and released a torrent of water stored behind it, which came rushing down the otherwise dry creek bed of the Hassayampa.  It reached the Buckeye Canal at 9:30 A.M. on the morning of February 22nd.  As the channel of the creek was at that time quite small, of much more than a big splash, that water spread out over the flats on each side of the channel  so where Highway 80 now crosses, it was at least a mile wide running better than waist deep through the house on the old Evans homestead.  After the flood was gone the former little channel had cut out to a creek of considerable width, something near its present size.  So maintaining the sand dam across the creek bed, to carry canal water from the east side to the west side, and on down into the Arlington country, developed into quite an undertaking as it washed out every time a rain of any size at all feel in the hills or on the desert above there.  According to an old timer who lived here before the flood, two men and teams could put the dam across the channel in a day.  In 1895 I.H. Parkman helped to put it back after a washout and it took sixteen men and teams from sunup to dark to do the job, so it was at least 8 times as big as it was before the flood.


            A veritable craze in water resource development in Arizona Territory took hold in the 1880s and 1890s and investors from throughout the world speculated on the profits that could be derived from this new land and water business.  The possibility of building a reservoir on the Hassayampa River at Walnut Grove west of Crown King in Yavapai County for mining purposes was raised in the early 1880s and this notion affected Buckeye in profound ways.  English capitalists and New York investors considered building at Walnut Grove to store water and convey it by canal to the Weaver Mining District.  In late June 1886, the recently established Walnut Grove Water Storage Company had completed the purchase of four ranches at a cost of $45,000, including the Abner Wade ranch where the Walnut Grove Dam was to rise.  This was an impressive project and doubtlessly, Buckey O’Neill, the Prescott-based investor in the Buckeye enterprise, observed these developments with great interest.  This privately-held company, he surmised, provided a blueprint for putting water to beneficial use and he could apply these financial and engineering strategies in the Buckeye Valley.  The cost of the reservoir and 60 miles of pipeline were placed at no less than $500,000 and the company was said to have paid up capital of $1 million in addition to the money already expended.  According the Hoof and Horn, a weekly newspaper in Prescott, “It is the first time in the history of Arizona, or for that matter the entire southwest, that the oft discussed proposition of storing the surplus of winter water for use during the dry season will be practically and scientifically tested by a company with sufficient capital to guarantee it’s not being hampered in its operations by lack of funds. If success crowns this effort the importance of Arizona as a permanent stock growing country is increased a hundred fold.”[46]  Indeed, the precedent for privately- owned water resource development companies had been established with the Walnut Grove project and territorial residents, from Prescott to Buckeye to Tucson caught the fever of dam, canal, and water storage development.

In fact, the major player in the Walnut Grove Water Storage Company was a New Yorker, Henry Spingler Van Beuren, an immensely wealthy property owner who derived an annual income of nearly $1 million from property rentals.  His plan was to construct a dam on the Hassayampa just below the Wagoner Store and Post Office, twenty miles downstream from Prescott.  The Walnut Grove Project was to serve two purposes.  Not only would it provide needed water for placer mining but also it could be used to irrigate 500 acres of farmland below the dam.  The company hired well-known mining expert, Professor William P. Blake who, after careful study, called for an 80 foot-high dam with a storage capacity of 1,306,800 cubic feet of water.  The water company, however, decided to raise the dam’s height to 110 feet.  By January 1887 construction was well underway and the so-called “big dam” was completed in October 1887.[47]  

The Walnut Grove Dam project grew even larger.   In November 1889, construction of a lower Walnut Grove Dam, 17 miles downstream from the big dam, was in progress.  This lower dam was intended to be 57-feet high and 200-feet long on top.  It was to measure 60-feet wide at the base and taper to 10 feet at the top.  Furthermore, work was planned for a central dam between the first two and this third structure would provide electrical power to the developing mining districts in the area.

On the evening of February 21, 1890, the Salt River began a sudden rise and by midnight, according to observers, it was 15 feet deep.  Thereafter it rose more slowly, reaching a peak of 17 feet by noon the following day and washing out 200 feet of rail road bridge connecting Phoenix and Tempe.  Heavy rain, described as a “steady sheet,” also fell on over the watershed of the Hassayampa.  By 8:00 p.m., on February 21, the Walnut Grove Dam’s 750-acre reservoir was full and water began running over the top.  The following day, at 2:00 a.m., water was running 13 to 15 feet over the dam and the structure gave way.  The water from the reservoir formed a huge wall as it raced through the canyon.  It swept away the lower dam and caught entire families sleeping in the construction camp, known as Gulch Camp, twenty-two miles below. An estimated 45 to 70 persons lost their lives.[48]              

            Two hours after the dam broke, a wall of water forty feet high, crashed through Wickenburg.  Twelve miles downstream, the waters erased the little town of Seymour. Not far past Seymour, the flood lost its great height, but none of its force. By the time it reached the area of Buckeye and the Gila River, it was said to be over two miles wide. Complete surprise was matched by complete destruction. The final death tally would never be known.  Following the dam break, Van Beuren was sued by 14 Maricopa County residents for damages in the amount of $93,000. An $8000 claim was filed by Henry Wickenburg. The lawsuit, however, was dismissed on grounds it should have been filed in Yavapai County. For unknown reasons the lawsuit was never refiled.   In October, 1891, Farmers Loan and Trust Company of New York, the major creditor to the Walnut Grove Project, foreclosed on the $100,000 mortgage.[49] Private enterprise found the inhospitable and unrelenting Arizona environment a risky investment.

            The flood reached the Buckeye Canal at 9:30 a.m. on February 22, 1890, and literally years of work were washed away.  As one resident put it, “the canal was in a sorry mess.”  According to one account, “as the channel of the creek was at that time quite small, of much more than a big splash, the water spread out over the flats on each side of the channel…,it was at least a mile wide running better than waist deep….”  And, with this disastrous flood, discussions between Equitable Mortgage and the Buckeye Irrigation Company ground to a halt.[50]  The company and the settlers faced daunting challenges.

            Life in the Buckeye Valley grew even more difficult in 1891 as another flood rushed through the area.  After a winter of unprecedented snow and rainfall on the Salt River watershed a warm rain, on February 18 and 19, covered the snow pack and melted the accumulation in the Arizona high country.  What transpired was, what the then-14 year-old Carl Hayden, Arizona’s future longtime U.S. Senator, remembered as, “the biggest flood of the Salt River that had ever been known.”  It erased years of human toil in the Salt River Valley and nearby areas and impacted Buckeye in profound ways.  Although the flood crest did not reach Maricopa County and its agricultural communities until February 20, the rail road bridge washed out on February 18, leaving Phoenix without a railroad connection to the outside world for three months.  According to one account, “white people and Indians” scrambled to high ground around Mesa, and flood refugees looked back into the lower valleys to see scores of washed out bridges and weir dams that previously had laced together the various farming communities.  Frantic letters from relatives and friends outside the territory took months to reach their destination.  In Buckeye, the flood rushed into what was known as the Toothaker Slough and washed out the dam head gates of the canal.  After the 1891 flood receded, the canal was washed out or filled with drift and sand for the first five or six miles.[51]       


Then came the big flood of 1891 which is talked about, not only by Buckeye Old Timers, but by Phoenicians as well, who told of it getting up to Jefferson Street at the vicinity of the intersection of Fifth Street.  Buckeye old timers say it was up almost to the present Buckeye town.

            After a winter of unprecedented snowfall in the Salt River watershed, there came a warm rain on the snow about February 18th and 19th, and by the 21st the flood had developed, reaching up into Phoenix as we have above stated.  A few hours later it was flooding the Buckeye Valley, coming from the river in what was known as Toothaker Slough, where the Ralph Cooper ranch is now, it broke the South Extension canal and followed the Alkali Swail down, clear across the valley, getting almost into Buckeye, flooding all the country around where the Buckeye disposal plant now stands and for a time what is now Liberty and the ranches south and west from there were on an island, as there was running river on both sides of them.

            The dam and gates at the head of the canal were washed out and all the low flat country on the north side of the canal was under water, for several miles down.

            After the flood was gone the Buckeye Canal was in a sorry mess.  The canal was washed out or filled up with drift or sand for the first five or six miles.

            With this condition staring the new settlers in the face and no chance of getting water in time for crops that year, many of the farmers moved out.  Some settlers returned to their homesteads later but some never did.  It was at this junction that T. N. (better known as Newt) Clanton came into the picture.  While the Buckeye Irrigation Company had talked big things that would cost a half million or so dollars, when the emergency arrived they were not prepared to do anything about it.  It was then Mr. Clanton got busy and circulated around among the remaining farmers with a petition setting forth how much they would contribute, by work or money to put the canal back in shape, and repair the dam and headgates, so they could again get water on their lands.  It was slow work for the few farmers left in the valley and it was months before the canal and dam were again in shape and water flowing in the ditch.

            On January 16th, 1893, a Mr. S. A. Davidson filed a notice on the south side of the Gila River just south across the river from the Buckeye Canal and headworks.  The canal to begin in a point of rocks jutting out into the river bed and to be 66 feet wide.  He filed notice on 50,000 inches of water or so much thereof as was necessary to irrigate all lands covered by a canal extending 85 miles down the river on the south side and covering land that was planned to be covered by the Buckeye Canal by water carried across the river at a flume at what is now Gillespie Dam.

            The location notice was witnessed by F. P. Trott, a well known engineer (Arizona), C. J. Dyer and Jose Urielnay.  As far as we have been able to determine, nothing was ever done about constructing the proposed canal.

            The 1891 flood seemed to have put a crimp in the Equitable Company’s plan to organize a million dollar canal company and build 65 mile canal to irrigate a total of 133,000 acres of land, for we find that on March 11th, 1893, William O’Neil and William Barnes bought two sections of land in the lower end of the Buckeye Valley for $6,4000 that had come into the Mortgage Company’s possession.  The sale was made by Sheriff J.K. Murphy at the order of the judge of the District Court of the third Judicial District of the Territory of Arizona, to partly satisfy a judgment for $179,981.67.  The judgment was obtained by Barnes and O’Neil against the Equitable Mortgage Company in said court on February 11th, 1893.

            The next two or three years things settled down and the water flowed uninterrupted except for the dam washing out now and then and the canal breaking from rains on the desert north of the canal and the White Tank mountains.  In the summer of 1896, it started to rain in July and rained every few days for the next two months, breaking the canal faster than the company could fix it.  Pioneer George Day told us of a break in the canal (near what is knows now as the Day corner, 2 miles west of Buckeye), from one rain that was over 100 feet wide.  A day or so later before the hole was fixed another rain came and broke another hole 75 feet wide, 150 feet west of the first hold and it is still open.  And yet, some people say, “It Never Rains in Arizona.”

            The farmers were depended upon by the canal company to fix all breaks for which labor, they were issued time checks payable in water only.  That is, they could be used only in paying for water.  Wagers were $1.50 per day for men, he to board himself, and $1.00 for team as all work was done by team and scraper.

            Time checks were issued by the company for labor at $1.50 per day were sold for as low as fifty to seventy-five cents on the dollar by some people who had no land, and so, no need for water, and by others who had accumulated more than they wanted for the year and needed the cash for living expenses.  On account of so much rain the desert was green as a wheat field, with the cattle up to their bellies in desert grasses and weeds.

            The farmers were most dependent on the cattlemen for the sale of their crops and so, for their living.  With all their free feed on the desert if was almost out of the question for the farmers to dispose of crops to the cattlemen, and when they did, at such a low figure that it was ridiculous.

            One such instance was the sale of 60 acres of sorghum 2 miles west of Buckeye to Oscar Roberts for $100.  In ordinary years it would have brought from $800 to $1,000.  This will give some idea of why the farmers needed the money so badly.

            As canal services had not been of the best for some years past, a bunch of farmers got together and appointed three of their members, M. E. Clanton, J.F. Wilcox and M.M. Jackson to negotiate a lease with the Buckeye Canal Company (who was again operating the canal) for a term of two years.  The agreement was signed on February 10th, 1897 by T. N. Clanton, President and J.L. Alexander, Secretary for the Canal Company, and the three above named gentlemen, for the farmers.  The agreement set forth that the Canal Company was to furnish the farmers $2,000 with which they were to build a flume across the Hassayampa that would carry 1,000 inches of water and build five other flumes under the canal where the large washed from the mountains crossed the canal.  They also agreed to furnish all materials, nails, lumber, etc. to fix and maintain the headgates at the head of the canal and to furnish the provision to board the men and the hay and grain to feed the horses while working on the dam and headgates during the year 1897.  The agreement was to run until January, 1899 when the farmers were to turn the canal back to the company without any debts incurred during the time of the lease and with all new improvements paid for.

            On October 5th, 1899, the O’Neil interest in the Buckeye Canal system was sold to W. Moultrie of Fresno, California by William O’Neil’s widow.  William (Buckey) O’Neil had been killed in the Spanish American War at San Juan Hill, Cuba, July 1st, 1898.  And so the bulk of his property, among which was canal property, had gone to his widow Pauline.  J.H. Braley of Los Angeles had negotiated the deal and it was closed for the sum of $6,400.  On June 5th, 1900 J. H. Braley, again acting for W. Moultrie sold to J. Ernest Walker and J. Curtiss Wasson the Buckeye Canal and 3,000 acres of land under it, for the sum of $30,000.

            The day before, June 4th, 1900, they, with W.W. Messinger had signed Articles of Incorporation for a new canal company to be known as the Buckeye Canal and Land Company with main office in Phoenix and on August 10th, they filed their incorporation papers with C.H. Akers, Secretary of State.

            On September 27h, 1900 they were issued a sheriff’s deed against the Buckeye Canal Company on a judgment obtained by W. Moultrie on February 24th, 1900 for the sum of $11,292.23 and assigned by him, to the new company and so passed into oblivion the old Buckeye Canal Company.

            During 1901, an effort was made by the farmers under the People’s ditch of the South Extension to take over and operate their ditch.  Originally the canal company had built the South Extension to where it intersected the Salt and Gila Base line and the farmers from there on had built and maintained their own ditch.  But having no company or system of operation, things were not very satisfactory-the upper ranchers getting most or all the water and those on the lower end little or none.  This resulted in several of the farmers building expensive ditches known as “burrow” ditches from the main canal.  They were in places built across the alkali flat that lay between the canal and the land they desired to irrigate and were eight and ten feet high, on top of a dirt dike that was forever breaking from dry weather cracks or gopher holes.  But even this was more preferable than trying to get water through the South Extension.

            The Buckeye Canal and Land Company did not make much of a hit with the Buckeye farmers so in 1902 they began trying to sell out their interest and contacted a Denver man, James R. Thorpe who sent an engineer, J.C. Ulrich to look over and appraise the property.  So on January 15th, 1902 he made a report back to Mr. Thorpe on what he had found and his recommendations that existed at that time.

            The canal is diverted from the North Bank of the Gila River at a point about 20 miles Southwest of the city of Phoenix (and is designed to water the land lying between the Canal and the river), and between this point of diversion and the Hassayampa, a stream from the north entering the Gila at a point about 45 miles southwest of Phoenix.

            The canal consists of a main line and one branch or lateral which is diverted toward the south at a point about 5 miles between the main headgate and the river and is designed to irrigate lands near the river, which are separated from the main tract by a depression.  I did not examine this branch and will therefore confine my description to the main line.

            Between the point of diversion (the dam) and the south branch above referred to, the bottom width of the channel varies between 12 and 16 feet and the depth of the water when running full is about 5 feet.  Between the dam and the waste gate, a distance of about three miles, the channel consists of a cut or excavation from 6 to 12 feet deep.  The waste gate is designed as an outlet through which surplus water may be returned to the river when there is more in the Canal than is required by the consumers below.  From the south branch to the end of the canal proper, which is at the Hassayampa, a distance of about 20 miles from 12 feet to about 4 feet.

            Most of the canal is reasonably well constructed and in fair condition with the exception of a distance of perhaps a mile where the channel is constructed on embankments above the general level of the ground.  These banks or fills should be strengthened by giving them a greater width.  The entire channel from beginning to end is encumbered with weeds and brush which seriously reduces its carrying capacity.  This should be cleared off and kept clean in the interest of effective service.

            The only important structures on the ditch aside from the headgate and dam are the waste gate already referred to, and the small flume across the Hassayampa near the lower end of the works.  Both of these are new structures and should serve for many years without much expense for repairs.  They appeared to be well designed and executed.  The waste gate cost $650 and the flume $1,300.

            The headgate is old and in very bad condition.  Its replacement by a new structure is now under consideration and should be executed with no more delay than is necessary, because the existing structure is too weak to withstand the strain that may be brought against it at any time by high water when the Gila is in flood.  There should also be a waste gate located at or near the headgate for the purpose of discharging surplus water during moderate rises in the river and to assist in the disposition of sand which may otherwise enter and clog the channel of the waterway. 

            The dam, which is about 1800 feet long, consists essentially of a ridge of loose rock piled across the channel of the river diagonally from the headgate to the opposite side.  It is at present in fair condition, having been recently improved by the expenditure of $5000 or $6000.  It can, however, be made stronger and safer by the deposition of an additional quantity of rock so placed as to increase its width without adding to its height.  I would recommend that this work be done, and the expenditure required would amount to $4,000 or $5,000.  The rock for this purpose is obtained from the granite hill on the south side of the river and about a half mile up stream from the dam site.  Heretofore, it has been hauled in wagons and dumped by hand upon the dam.  This is rather an expensive method, laborious at all times, and impossible during periods of floods.  This work could be done more economically and with greater expedition if a suspended cable were created from the quarry to and across the damsite.  The stone could be conveyed from the quarry to the damsite in metal receptacles suspended from this cable and dumped upon the dam at any desired point.  Under this plan the work could be executed during periods of high water when under the old regime it would be impossible to proceed with it.

            A plant of this character would approximate to an insurance of the efficiency of the dam.  I would recommend that this arrangement be investigated and if determined to be practicable that it be adopted.  The most vulnerable feature of the enterprise, because of the treacherous character of the Gila River, is the dam; it must be made reasonably safe or the enterprise will be of doubtful value.


History of the Buckeye Canal

By I.H. Parkman

Lands Under the System


            As nearly as I could determine form the maps of the company and the statement of the people living in that vicinity, there are about 16,000 acres of land between the headgate and the Hassayampa that can be watered by this canal.  Of this area probably about 12,000 acres are good tillable land for which water will be actually required.  This area when all cultivated will result in a demand of about 6,000 inches of water, which practically determines the scope of the enterprise.

            This area, in the main smooth desert land, not quite so phenomenally regular in surfaces as that in the vicinity of Phoenix, but nevertheless essentially level.  It can, with but little expense, be put into such condition as to insure the very best results from irrigation.  Most of it is a rich sandy load, unsurpassed in fertility and capable of producing alfalfa in quantities not exceeded anywhere else in the region.  All other crops common to the Salt River Valley can be produced, but alfalfa appears to be the most profitable and is therefore the favorite crop.

            This is a comparatively new region and therefore the improvements are as yet neither so extensive nor so elaborate as in the older settlements, but there is an evident air or thrifty and energy which proves that the settlers have full confidence in the ultimate outcome of the enterprise.  Probably one-third of the tillable area is as yet unimproved, but is practically all in the hands of private owners and likely to be developed at an early date, and will then add to the revenues of the canal through its demand for water.

            Water under this system is delivered under what is known as the inch measurement upon the basis on one-half of an inch to an acre of land (In Arizona, 40 inches is equivalent to 1 cfs).  From an examination of the books of the company, I have concluded that about 3,500 inches were actually applied to land during the year 1901, and there appeared reason to justify the conclusion that 4,000 inches would be called during the year 1902.  The delivery for last year indicated an area of about 7,000 acres under cultivation, and it is expected that not less than 8,000 acres will be farmed this year.  The price which the company receives for this water is $3.00 per inch; consequently the gross income for last year was about $10,500 and it is expected, with reason, that it will reach $12,000 this year.

            Some of the water consumers own shares of stock in the company and others have “water rights”; both are entitled to the use of the water; a share of stock conveying a right to the use of the same volume that is guaranteed by the water right.  The volume so conveyed is in both cases 20 inches, which is the amount generally used on 40 acres of land.  The shareholders and owners of the water right fare alike so far as the cost of the water is concerned, each paying at the rate of $3.00 per inch per annum for its carriage, the Company acting in the capacity of common carrier of water to shareowners and water right holders.

            Persons holding neither water rights nor shares of stock are not entitled to the use of the water even though willing to pay the carriage charges.  All the water rights and all the shares of stock (400 in number each) are now disposed of and in the hands of individuals.

            The essential difference between a water right and a share of stock is this: a water right gives the owner the right to the use of water upon the payment to the company of $3 per inch per year for its carriage, but does not give him a right to vote upon questions concerning the operation of the canal; he had no voice in the management or operation in the plant, no ownership in the canal itself, not does he participate in the distribution of dividends if any are realized.  The owner of a share of stock has no right by virtue of this share alone the use of water from the canal; but he has voice in the management in proportion to the amount of his stock.  He also receives his pro-rata of the dividends if any are earned.  The company, as such, no longer has any water rights for sale nor does it own any land, therefore its only source of dividends is in the excess of income from water carriage charges.  Over the cost of maintenance; up to the present date no dividends have been realized.  On the contrary, an indebtedness of $13,000 has been accumulated, which represents the excess of the cost of operation and maintenance over the gross income.  Two factors have contributed to this result; first, prior to its reorganization, which took place about two years ago, its affairs had been conducted in a desultory manner, because of lack of funds, there being prior to that date only a few farmers operating under the system.  Under this regime, the works were permitted to run down and the channel to fill with mud and brush.  Having a weak and ineffective dam, the latter partially failed about a year ago with the cleaning out of the canal and general improvement of other parts of the plant resulted in the accumulation of the indebtedness referred to.

            There appears to be good reason to justify the belief that the income from the operation of 1902 will be sufficient to defray the expenses of operation and maintenance, but no dividends may be expected before the end of the year 1903.

            It has been universal experience of those personally conducting farming operations in the Salt River Valley that wherever the water supply is sufficient and continuous, success results from such operations when skillfully conducted; but the water supply from either the Salt or Gila Rivers is usually deficient throughout much of the year, much of that passing through the dry season, sinking in the deep sands of the river channel and thus becoming unavailable for irrigation.

            This canal, however, has been fortunate in the selection for its headworks of a point where, because of the comparative proximity of bedrock to the surface, there is a constant flow of water even when the channel, a few miles above or below, is perfectly dry.  As a result of this condition, this Canal has a continuous supply of water when all other ditches in this region are dry.  I do not give this as a fact of my own personal knowledge, but I know from personal observation, that this canal was running full and wasting at least one-third of its capacity back into the river at the time of my visit, and that no other canal in this valley was enjoying similar conditions at this time.  I therefore have every reason to believe that its supply of water is superior to that of any other enterprise in this region.

            The area of land that can be watered is limited, but its quality is equal to that of the very best in the arid region.  The proximity of the great Salt River Valley of which Phoenix is the center, which suffers annually for lack of water insures that the superior advantages of a sufficient and certain water supply will be known and appreciated and guarantees a rapid settlement and development by a class of settlers who are accustomed to the practice of irrigation as it is here conducted.  This practically eliminates one of the most common elements of weakness involved in the average irrigation enterprises; that of being compelled to carry the enterprise many years without income pending the settlement of the country by immigrants from distant regions.

            The isolation of its location, 35 miles from the nearest railroad, will be by some considered a decided disadvantage.  This will be particularly true with reference to those settlers who are looking for locations upon small sites for permanent homes.  It will therefore, be limited to its acquisition of settlers to those who intended to engage in alfalfa and cattle raising.  For this purpose, it appears to be especially adapted, and there appears to be every reason to predict marked success for those embarking in these enterprises.

            From the standpoint of the investor who undertakes the development of the enterprise for the dividends which may result from its operation, the limited scope of its operation may be considered a serious drawback.  Even though the percentage of dividends which my estimates here indicate are fully realized, the aggregate value of the profits is too small to attract the majority of non-resident capitalists.

            The element of uncertainty connected with the maintenance of a dam is so treacherous a stream as the Gila is another disadvantage, and while I believe that this dam can be accomplished with reasonable expense the possibility to do damage to this structure by floods is a liability which it may be well not to lose sight of (if you think seriously of becoming interested in the proposition.)

            I am not an enthusiast in the subject of irrigation investments, and I make it a principle never to strongly advise anyone to embark in such enterprises.  I would not however, by any means, feel justified in advising you not to take up this proposition, because I feel satisfied from the information I have gathered, that if its affairs are skillfully and honestly conducted it will return a good profit from the investment of the capital which I have herein referred to as the most of the enterprise.  I will mention in this connection that this is a conclusion which I have been able to reach in connection with but few of the enterprises upon which I have reported during recent years.

            In consideration the estimates of cost which I herein submit, it must be understood that they are not the result of actual measurements nor the consideration of actually completed plans, but they are simply based upon a comparison with the cost of similar works that I have personally designed and executed elsewhere.  To have made up estimates based upon actual survey and designs would have required a month of time devoted to the work whereas I only put in two days (three days out from Phoenix) upon the examination of this plant.  All that I can say from these figures is that I have endeavored in their compilation to be very liberal in my estimates of the expenditures required ad have attempted to be decidedly conservative in my deductions for revenue to be expected.  I therefore feel justified in believing that under a skillful and efficient management dividends substantially as I have indicated, may be anticipated, and that they may be realized within the periods which I have designated.  In the event, however, that you should purchase this property and it should develop that my figures may not be borne out by the facts, you would still have a certain redress that would protect you from loss in the operation of the plant.  This redress will be found in your contracts with water consumers which prescribe that you may increase the price from water delivery up to a limit of $5 if this course becomes necessary; by increasing the price from $3 to $4 per inch, it appears to me that you could safely count upon a profit even though your dam should be partly destroyed every year. – (Signed J.C. Ulrich)

            In 1899 the people of the lower end of the canal in what is now known as Arlington, got together and organized a new canal company and named it the Arlington Canal, with its head south of the town of Buckeye in the Gila River.  The canal was built by the farmers and homesteaders of that region during the winter of 1899 and spring and early summer of 1900.  When it was completed it covered and irrigated all land west of the Hassayampa that was formerly irrigated by the Buckeye Canal Company, except what is now known as the Tovrea Ranch, but then as the Christian Ranch.

            After Ulrich, consulting engineer, for the James R. Thorpe interests of Denver, made his report; Mr. Thorpe entered into and completed negotiations for the purchase of the canal which was consummated in March, 1902.

            Steps were at once taken to move the office from Phoenix to Buckeye and were set up on a ranch one and one-half mile west of Buckeye with Herman Apgar as secretary.  A new system of bookkeeping was set up, as the books under the old company were poorly kept.

            The capital stock of 400 shares at a par value of $250 was recognized and so were entered on the new books.

            During the year, 1902, G.H. Christian, owner of the land now known as the Tovrea Ranch entered into a contract with the Thorpe interests to construct an overhead flume across the Hassayampa to get better water supply to his ranch.  This was done at a cost of $1,500.  The flume was made out of 2x12 lumber and was 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep, and carried across the river on 9 piers made of 6x6 timbers.

            In June of that year a tramway one and one quarter mile long was built at the dam to better get rock out, on the dam where needed.  Heretofore it had been handled by wagon and team.  During the summer and up to Dec. 15th, 1902 a crew of men of from 20 to 50 was kept on the job at all times.  The result was a dam of from 40 to 60 feet wide, with an average width of 50 feet, instead of the old one of 10 to 1 feet wide.

            During the summer of 1902, there were eleven floods of sufficient volume to flow over the new dam but none that caused any trouble.  Five of them came from the Agua Fria and five from the Gila and one from the Salt River.

            During this year the Wessex Company of Denver constructed a telephone line through the valley stringing 40 miles of line and installing 75 telephones.

            In the latter part of this year a start was made to install measuring weirs in all service laterals and ditches.  Heretofore the zanjero had carried a measuring stick with him and had to stop and set it in the ditch any time he desired to measure water.

            Water rates were $3.00 per inch annum up to April 1st, 1903, but at that time they were raised to $4.00 to cover the increased costs of improvements and operations.  They had gone $1,600 in the red during 1902.

            The only thing of importance to happen during the year of 1903, outside of the raise in the price of water and incident thereto, was a bunch of angry farmers, incensed about said raise, organized the White tanks Canal Company.  Their purpose was to parallel the Buckeye Canal on the north side from the dam to the Hassayampa to supply their own land with water and eventually put the Buckeye Canal out of business.  The incorporators were John R. Norton, Nels Benson, T.N. Clanton, H.W> Davis and F.G. Millage.

            In July of this year the largest flood since 1891 came down the river and washed out the northwest end of the dam but was rebuilt and water again running inside of three days.

            On May 1st, 1903, the canal company purchased the telephone line from the Wessex Company for $1,200 and took over the operation of it.  During 1904 the line was extended through Arlington country to Gila Bend, and from the Buckeye dam to Bill Moore’s, Coldwater on the Agua Fria.  There were over 100 phones in use at this time.

            On August 1st, 1904 came the largest flood down the river since the 1891 flood.  The Gila, Salt and Agua Fria Rivers all came down together at near the same time and the three, combined made the big river.  And it didn’t last just a few days but continued with fluctuations up and down until the middle of September.  Superintendent James Day was on the job at all times with men and teams and when the river would drop a day or so, would plug up the biggest holes with big trees anchored to dead men by inch cables and so would get water back in the canal for a few days until a new freshet would come down and tear it out again, so it would have to be done all over again.  When the floods were over I, it was found that the break in the dam was 660 feet long and from 2 to 20 feet deep.  The dam was immediately rebuilt about 50 feet wide and water turned permanently into the canal on September 18th.  Work on the dam was continued until December 1st when it was again declared to be in A-1 condition.

            Three times during the floods the canal was entirely obliterated from the dam to the old headgates by sand and had to be removed by team and slip scraper.  The canal company spent about $5,500 on the dam during the flood.

            Later in the fall, five suits for damage against the Canal Company were brought by ranchers alleging neglect in repairing the dam, and between 40 and 50 more threatened, totaling $40,000 altogether.

            On New Year’s Eve, 1904, it started to rain again and in a few days the Gila was in flood and remained in that condition until the middle of May, 1905.  Again the dam was in danger but withstood the flood until January 10th, when it went out and water was out of the canal until June 14th.  But owing to the extensive and frequent local rains the crops did not suffer too much.

            During this rainy period the Hassayampa also got a rampage and washed out the new overhead flume, five of the nine bents having to be rebuilt.

            On April 7th, 1905, the creditors of the Canal Company made petition to the court for the appointment of a receiver for the Canal Company; and the court appointed Mr. Frank P. Trott, a well known civil engineer of Phoenix, who also was court water commissioner for the Salt River Valley canal system.

            During the height of the flood the Gila shifted its main channel to the north side of the river bed and cut away about 700 feet of the canal beginning at a point one half mile west of the canal headgates.  This was rebuilt farther back from the river at a cost of $8,087.  The damage suffered by the South Extension was repaired for $120.  Repairs on the dam from this flood amounted to $4,000.

            Buckeye was not the only canal company to suffer from this long drawn out flood.  Salt River canals reported a damage of over $100,000.  Railroad bridges were washed out time and again and many farmers along the rivers involved suffered losses from a few acres to as much as practically their entire farm, all the way from Safford to Yuma.  It was this flood from the Gila joining with the Colorado flood that broke over into the Imperial Valley with such devastating results, and in which the best engineers of the nation and all the resources of the Southern Pacific railroad were called upon before it was stopped.

            On June 6th, 1905 the first of the damage suits against the Canal Company was brought to trial in Justice Court, and a verdict rendered to the plaintiff.  An appeal was made at once to the District Court.  On November 27th, a test case of Clanton vs. Buckeye Canal Company was tried in the District Court, and a verdict was rendered for the defendant the Canal Company.

            On September 20th, 1905 the District Court raised the rate of water from $4.00 to $4.50 per inch, as it was found by the receiver that with all the unforeseen damage done by the floods that the canal could not be operated for less.  Already upset about paying $4.00 per inch, the increase was like rubbing a sore spot for the farmers, but they could do nothing about it because it was a court order.  The following are a few of the larger items of expenses listed for the year 1905 up to November 1st: New canal-$15,194.72; canal repairs-$3,648.58; dam repairs-$5,411.81; canal breaks-$517.85; new headgate-$850.50; South Extension-$368.21; Hassayampa flume-$385.31.  The new headgate was built mostly from railroad timbers from washed out bridges, salvaged during the big Spring flood.  Engineers had estimated the gate would cost at least $5,000 but by using these timbers the cost was cut to $850.

            During the year 1906, more floods came and along near the close of the year, one flood cut into the canal back of the headgate on the upper side and part ran down the canal and part back through the headgate into the river.  The management of the Canal Company fearing a larger rise in the river and so much water would go down the canal that it would tear it to pieces below, proceeded to put a dirt dam across the canal about 200 yards below the headgates and so stopped all water from going into the canal.

            A few of the wise, cool, level headed farmers began to realize something would have to be done shortly if they were going to survive as a community as the Wessex Water Company was not giving satisfactory service in operating the canal and that the building of the White Tank Canal was going to be a long drawn out affair even after the canal was built, the farmer’s troubles were only beginning, as each and every ditch from the canal would have to cross the canal and an easement across the right-of-way.  With the Wessex Water Company going to court with the farmers’ every move, it could be seen it was going to be a long drawn out affair.  So a few of the farmers decided the best thing to do was to try and secure an option to buy the Buckeye Canal from the Wessex Water Company.  So in the fall and winter of 1906, Mr. Thorpe, president of the Water Company was contacted and he talked very favorably.  The committee that had made the negotiations was composed of N. Benson, J.S. Day, G.C. Simons, Fred Walls, W.R. Beloat, C.M. Zander and C.H. Odell.


History of the Buckeye Canal

By I.H. Parkman

Chapter 2


            On February 28th, 1907 articles of agreement were drawn up and presented to a mass meeting of the Valley farmers called at the Buckeye School House on March 2nd, 1907.  The articles of agreement were read and discussed and voted upon by an acreage vote with the result that more than two-thirds of the acreage was in favor of ratifying the agreement.  Then they proceeded to select a name of the company and C.M. Zander presented the name of Buckeye Irrigation Company, which was adopted.  Articles of Incorporation previously prepared by lawyer Lewis of Phoenix were read and adopted and the following farmers were named as directors of the new company (the number of seven having been decided upon): George Day, P.H. Benson, P.E. Moore, George Drew, H.A. Hammels, Chas. Barkley and L.H. Thayer.

            The agreement adopted at this meeting was to the effect that a physical appraisal of the canal system by made by two engineers, with a third in case of disagreement.  Mr. Ulrich of Denver was Mr. Thorpe’s engineer and Ad Farish of Phoenix was selected by the newly formed company.  They in turn selected a Mr. Parker of Las Angeles as the third man.  Work of measuring and cross sectioning the canal was begun at once by Mr. Ulrich and Mr. Farish and Zanjero I. H. Parkman as head chairman.  This committee of engineers fixed the physical valuation of the canal system at $97,900 and after some more mass meetings and more dickering back and forth a sale price was at last agreed upon at $92,900.

            The new company was organized along different lines from all its predecessors, in that it made the acre the basis of stock.  Each acre of irrigable land would represent one share of stock up to 16,000 shares at a par value of $10 per share.  It was a purely cooperative affair and only land owners could own stock.  Each share when issued became perpetually appurtenant to that particular acre of land and could not be sold or transferred without the sale of the land.  In purchasing the canal the new company assumed a bonded indebtedness of $86,500 from the Wessex Company payable $8,000 per year.

            On March 4th at another called meeting, the first board of officers for the new company was elected as follows: H.A. Hammels, President; George Drew, Vice President; George P. Brown, Secretary; and P.E. Moore, Treasurer.  At this meeting 5,089 acres were signed up for stock in the Company.  On May 8, 1907 at a called stockholders’ meeting it was voted to take over and operate the South Extension of the canal for its full length.  Previous to this time, the Company had only operated it as far as the Base Line Road and the farmers getting water through it the rest of the way.  On May 24th, 1907 a committee that had been appointed to draw up a code of by-laws, made its report to the stockholders at another called meeting.  After considerable discussion and amending they were adopted and constituted the by-laws of the company with a few changes and additions, operate under at the present time.

            On May 28th, the Board of Directors met and employed Tom Levy as superintendent at a salary of $125 per month.  He thereby became the first superintendent of the new company.

            On June 4th, George P. Brown was employed as secretary at a salary of $75 per month.  He had been acting secretary ever since the canal company had been organized, and at this time the office of treasurer was joined to that of the secretary, so he assumed the responsibility of both offices.  Also at the meeting the salary of the zanjero, I. H. Parkman was fixed at $100 per month, he to furnish his own transportation.

            On June 24th, 1907 Mr. Levy the superintendent died and Henry Wilkey was hired at a salary of $150 to fill his place as superintendent.

            After the farmers got hold of the canal, they began to find out what the old companies had been up against in trying to operate the system on water at $2.00 an inch, and so the board of directors ordered an assessment of $2.50 per inch for the six month period beginning October 1st, 1907.

            On September 23rd, the board of directors met in special session and at that meeting the usual procedure of selling water by the inch was changed and from that time on it was sold by the acre.  One half inch being allowed per acre.

            The price of water was then fixed at $1.25 per acre for each six months period.

            In February, 1908, a large crew of men was put to work on the canal cleaning and enlarging it for its full length.  The work was supervised by P.E. Moore.

            In March this same year, negotiations were started between the Buckeye Irrigation Company and the White Tank Canal Company with the object in view of the Buckeye system taking over the White Tank Company.  By the middle of April an agreement had been reached wherein anyone holding stock in the White Tank Canal could transfer to the Buckeye Irrigation Company and receive an equal amount of stock in the latter company.

            When the original canal had been build the contractor did not follow the original survey across the Hassayampa Valley but cut straight across the valley and so saved a mile or so of canal.  At a regular meeting of the board of directors on February 2nd, 1909, it was decided to build the canal where it should have been in the first place.  So H.M. Lewis was secured to make a new survey and work was begun shortly thereafter.  Instead of crossing the Hassayampa with an overhead flume, an underground flume was put in, and so solved the trouble of floods down the river.

            By the beginning of 1909, the farmers had so improved their water system that the price of water was fixed at $1.00 per acre for the period from April 1st to October 1st for stockholders and $1.50 for non-stockholders.

            At the annual meeting of the stockholders held in February 8th, 1910 among other things it was decided to hire a zanjero for the upper division of the canal and leave the superintendent free to oversee the whole system better.  Heretofore, he had to look after the distribution of the water on the upper river and superintend the system at the same time.

            During the period of years following the big floods of 1905, the river had swung over and along the north bank and each succeeding flood threatened the canal and ranches along its course.  While it was not the canal’s concern particularly, about the threatened ranches, yet it was much concerned about it cutting into the canal again as it did in 1905.  So various engineers were consulted and different plans put into execution to try to stop it cutting any further north.  This condition existed for several years and much money was spent on the work so much that at different times it was necessary to levy special assessments in the capital stock to pay for the work.

            During the first years, stealing water was common practice among many of the farmers, and at almost every directors meeting someone would be up before the board for breaking locks, gates, etc. and taking water that did not belong to them.  In many instances some of the better known farmers were implicated.  The usual fine was the loss of a hour run of water and a cash fine to cover any damage done to company property.

            During these formative years many stockholders meetings were held, sometimes tow ot three a month, and much verbal steam expended.  Some of the meetings were bitter and fiery, and lasted from morning to late at night and in a case or two lasted for two days.  But out of it finally came a system that the makers are proud of.

            Back as early as 1910; some of the farmers began talking about pumping plants.  There was an over abundance of water during the winter and spring but at times in the summer when water was needed most, it got too short to grow successful crops.

            At a meeting of the directors on June 17th, 1911 the question came up of building an office building, as heretofore the secretary had been furnishing his own office, generally in his home or place of business.

            On March 7th, 1911 it was decided to buy lot 5 in block 9 in Buckeye for $100 and Mr. T.N. Clanton, owner, gave the company Lot 7 in the same block.  Work was started shortly thereafter with the result that their (first) office building came into existence. 

At this meeting it was found that water should be sold to stockholders for $0.75 per acre and non-stockholders for $1.25.  Quite a reduction from the $2.50 they started at when they took over the canal.

            On April 2nd, 1912 at the regular meeting of the directors a committee was appointed to select a sire for a home for the lower zanjero not to cost more than $700.

            On May 2nd, the committee reported that it had selected 80 acres lying mostly on the north side of the canal in the S½ of the NE¼ Section, two miles west of J.H. Harbinson.  Later this site was not thought desirable and on July 2nd, a new site of 2 ½ acres was secured from George Day and the present house erected with some improvements added later.  The estimated cost was $500.

            The upper zanjero house was built in the summer of 1910 on a ten acre tract purchased from John Bonner, about a quarter mile east of the South Extension diversion gate.

            As there was a little more than 4,000 acres of land under the canal for which there was no water stock and most of which the owners were desirous of obtaining stock so many plans were from time to time put forth, but none adopted as desirable or feasible.  But at the annual meeting on June 13th, 1913, George Brown introduced a resolution that was adopted.  The resolution provided among other things that the holders of 4,000 acres organize another and separate company and bond their lands or a sufficient amount to install sufficient pumps to develop 2,000 inches of water, and they pay for three quarters of the expense of enlarging the canal to carry this extra amount of water.  The Irrigation Company would supervise distribution of the water at the price they charged their regular stockholders.  And after the new company had operated long enough to demonstrate that they were going to make a success of the venture then the Irrigation Company would take over and issue them stock in their company in lieu of the stock in the new company.

            The Brown resolution, like so many before it, was indefinitely postponed by the action of the stockholders at a meeting on February 10th.

            In March of that year, the first automobile came into use by the Irrigation Company when the superintendent, Guy Vernon, purchased one for his use, in place of a horse and buggy, for his work on the canal.  The canal board allowed him $175 per year for its upkeep.

            During the summer of 1913, Harry Hancock, engineer, was employed by the company to measure the water of several small ditches coming out of the Salt River west of Phoenix and to keep a record of the amount being run and date of same, as it seemed that some of the ditches were getting more than their share of water.  This evidence was used later in a lawsuit determining the amount of water each ditch of canal was entitled to under prior appropriation.

            On May 25th, 1914 a resolution was adopted at a special stockholder’s meeting, adopting a lateral system for both irrigation and waste ditches that had been presented by Engineer Hancock some time before.  In this resolution the board was instructed to float a $35,000 bond issue, and with same to refund the present bond indebtedness of $19,000 and use the rest for the construction of the lateral systems as far as it would go and to assess capital stock from time to time to complete the work as needed.

            In September, 1914, the State Fair Commissioner of the Agriculture Division attended the regular directors’ monthly meeting, pleading for a special exhibit from the Buckeye Valley, with the result that the board appropriated $100 for the collection of the exhibit and appointed I.H. Parkman to look after it.  This procedure was kept up for the next three years, and resulted in quite an advertisement for Buckeye Valley.

            As the Gila River was still threatening cutting into the canal west of the head gates for some 3 or 4 miles, the directors entered into a contract on May 6th, 1915 with the River Currents Control Company of San Francisco, to install three of its patented Dean’s Channel Changes and River Bank Protectors at strategic points along the section of the river bank, at a total cost of $654.  As they were not the success that was claimed for them no more were installed.

            At the regular meeting of the canal board in March, 1916, the matter of developing water from the Agua Fria was taken up and discussed at some length, with the result that a committee was appointed to go into the matter more fully and report at a later meeting.  On March 27th, after looking over the Agua Fria situation the board ordered the superintendent to put a dam in the Agua Fria and open up a channel into the canal, and divert water into the canal, as the Gila was on a rampage and the cam was out so that no water could be diverted into the canal from that stream.  He was ordered to keep up this arrangement as long as the Agua Fria supplied water for as much as one-fourth time.  When it dropped lower than that he was to rebuild the dam and take the water again from the Gila.

            At the annual stockholders meeting on June 15th, 1917, a bond issue of $55,000 was authorized by the stockholders, as the $30,000 bond issue ordered in 1914 had never been floated.  This bond issue was to do the work contemplated by the former un-issued bonds, to wit: headwork improvement-$21,400; canal enlargement-$11,600; service laterals-$10,000; water laterals-$7,000; river bank protection-$5,000; total of $55,000.

            The bonds were to run 15 years and start coming due in 5 years at $5,000 per year until all were paid off.  The Phoenix Savings Bank and Trust Company later bought these bonds at par, and they were to bear interest at 6%.

            In May, 1917, a movement was set on foot by the directors to complete the White Tank Canal down to now the upper spillway of the Canal and utilize it instead of the present canal and so get back farther from the river as every rise in the river was a constant threat to its breaking into the canal.  The White Tank had been partially completed down as far as they contemplated using it.  And Engineer Hancock estimated it could be completed and put in operation for $20,000.

            During this month it was also ordered by the directors that a Monighan Dragline Excavator be purchased at a price of $9,850, and that it be placed to work on the upper end of the canal cleaning and enlarging it as soon as it arrived.

            During the summer of 1917, a priority suit was instituted in Superior Court with Judge Stanford presiding to determine Buckeye’s rights to water in the Gila, Salt and Agua Fria Rivers.  It was later known as the Benson-Allison Decree and established the rights of each individual piece of land to water and the date of such right.  Many of the old timers of the Valley were called to the stand to testify as to the date certain pieces of land were put into cultivation from which their rights to water were based.  The decree was issued November 14th, 1917.

            In the winter of 1917 a bunk house was built at the dam 24x36 feet, with a concrete floor at a total cost of $400; it was later used for a dining room and kitchen and now for a dwelling.

            As some of the lower lands of the valley were fast becoming waterlogged from irrigation on the higher grounds, a movement was started at the annual meeting on January 18th, 1918 to develop some system of drainage for same.  Later an engineer was appointed and a general survey of the waterlogged sections made.

            On January 21st, at an adjourned stockholders’ meeting the matter of issuing new stock was taken up and ordered.

            When the company was formed the articles called for 16,000 shares at a par value of $10,000.  At the meeting the articles were amended to read 20,000 shares and the price to be fixed by the board of directors for the new stock.  At an adjourned stockholders meeting on April 19th, 1918 the board reported that they had agreed on the following prices for the 4,000 shares of new stock:

            For 1918-19                            $20.00 per Share

            For 1920                                 $22.00 per Share

            For 1921                                 $24.00 per Share

            For 1922                                 $26.00 per Share

            For 1923                                 $28.00 per Share

            For 1924                                 $30.00 per Share

And the price thereafter to be fixed by action of the stockholders at their annual meetings.  Payment to be made of 5% on date of purchase and 5% on each April 1st and October 1st thereafter.  This set up was almost unanimously carried by a stock vote of the farmers.

            At the annual Stockholders Meeting in 1919, February 10th, the matter of drainage was again taken up and after a lot of discussion and the introduction of a resolution of two that failed to pass; the following resolution was offered by John Norton and unanimously carried:

“Whereas the best interests of the water users and land owners under the Buckeye Canal rests in the immediate drainage of wet lands and the development of more water by pumping and whereas it is evident that the most speedy and practical way of accomplishing these ends is through the organization of a drainage district:  Therefore, be it resolved that the stockholders of the Buckeye Irrigation Company endorse and support the organization of the drainage district, the boundaries of which shall conform to the boundaries by the company’s articles of incorporation which designates the lands to be served by the company’s canal, but which district shall exclude all plotted town sites; and the company pay whatever costs there be incurred in organizing said drainage district and Be it Further resolved, that a committee of five be appointed by the president to supervise and direct the organization of said drainage district.”

C.M. Zander, C.N. Towner, William Walton, N.A> Sanders and John R. Norton were appointed on the committee.

No other thing of any great importance happened during the year 1919, but at the annual meeting of 1920 on January 12, a resolution was introduced wherein it proposed to bond the district for the sum of $300,000 for the purpose of first: take up the present outstanding bonds of the company in the amount of $55,000; second, to construct permanent headwater sluiceways, riverbank protection and any other safeguards that was thought desirable; third, to complete the rock and wire dam already started.

Ever since the inception of the Buckeye Canal the dam had been the bane of every company to operate the canal.  Built on a bed of quick sand for its entire length, the first brush and rock dam 8 or 10 feet wide washed out every time heavy dew fell on any of its watershed.  So every new ownership investigated the possibility of a permanent dam.  It was thought that by building the dam 40 to 60 feet wide of rock with the highest elevation at the edge upstream and tapering off to nothing downstream would solve the problem, but they soon found out that the quicksand could swallow up their rocks waster than they could replace them.  Of course it was far better than the old narrow brush and rock dam but washed out just the same at every protracted freshet.  Much money was spent and some of the best engineers had studied the situation, but so far nothing permanent had been devised.

One engineer referred them to a dam on a river in India, similar to the Gila, that was proving quite a success and it was voted to try it out here.  It was known as the “Sausage Dam.”  Made of rock and heavy net fencing wire six feet wide.  Two widths of this, 50 feet long, was laid on the sand side by side and wired together.  On the wire was laid as many rock as desired, when the wire was lapped over the rocks and wired together the same as the underside was fixed, and then the sides and the open end of the sausage were wired together, making a big sausage 50 feet long laying up and downstream.  Then another one was made along the side of the fist one and so on for the length of the dam.  As soon as the second one was finished another one was made on top of the two, lapping halfway over the other and so binding them together and so on until the desired height was reached.  That was the sort of dam referred to in the $300,000 bond resolution and looked like it would be an end to their worried.  But with all of their experience they still did not know the Gila River.  It was found later that the water would undermine the lower end of the “sausage” and they would gradually sink.  But there is no question that in the course of time the sand would become full from the constant repairs and a firm foundation finally would be set up.  But that time never came as some fool decided what is the use in trying to raise the water and force it into the canal; why not go up the river and lead it in, and do away with a costly dam.  This was done and the dam troubles were over.  But we are getting ahead of our story.

On February 16th, 1920 at an adjourned stockholders’ meeting the $300,000 bond issue was voted and authorized for the purposes above stated, and also at this meeting it was voted to increase the amount of the bonded indebtedness limitation for the company from $100,000 to $500,000, therefore paving the way for the $300,000 bond issue.

On February 24th, 1920 the directors at a special meeting voted to employ Charles Kirby Fox, a nationally known Los Angeles engineer, as designing engineer on terms quoted by him to the board, to-wit: That he be paid $10,000 for his services; $5,000 when the preliminary plans were turned in and $5,000 when the final plans are submitted.  At an adjourned meeting of the board on May 11th, 1920, Charles Kirby Fox was instructed to prepare plans for dam “Type C”, weir, eight feet in height, 2800 feet in length, with concrete breast and toe walls and downstream apron enmeshed in wire netting at a cost of from $125 to $150 pet linear foot.  He was also instructed to prepare plans for a concrete intake and spillways to cost approximately $60,000 and for levees and river bank protection at $40,000.

In June of 1920, Mr. W.H. Sanders of Los Angeles was employed by the board to act as consultant engineer to work with Mr. Fox on plans and construction of the proposed new dam.  Nothing else of importance happened during the year 1920, although there were frequent meetings at which time, plans for the new dam were discussed.  This held good through 1921 until late in the year.  Just routine matters of conducting the water system came up; together with frequent meetings with the engineers and plans, and more plans for the new dam.

            At the annual meeting January 9th, 1922 it developed that the company had been going in the red for some time and the stockholders authorized the directors to borrow $30,000 on the company note or notes to care for the indebtedness, to-wit: $13,862 on the new dam; $6,138 operating expenses and the balance to be used to operate on up to April, 1922.

            At the board meeting on February 7th, the loan committee reported that the $30,000 the stockholders had instructed the board to borrow could be secured through the Imperial Livestock and Mortgage Company of Los Angeles, an agent for the War Finance Corporation; provided that each Buckeye Stockholder furnish a financial statement of his net worth.  The offer was accepted and the stockholders were instructed to prepare the financial statements.  Later on in the year the loan was refused.

            On April 4th, a delegation of land owners on the north side and adjacent to the Buckeye Canal appeared before the Canal Board and presented a petition asking permission to organize an irrigation and drainage district to help finance the new dam, to pay for the enlargement of the canal and to install pumps to provide water for the land in question, where there wan not enough water in the river to provide sufficient water for all lands in the Buckeye area and the proposed new company.  It was set forth in the petition that by enlarging the canal sufficiently and pumping the water out of the canal and taking it north that as much as 10,000 acres could be covered and reclaimed.  The petition was signed by G.C. Reubel, M.W. Pace, Fred Walls, T.J. Roberts and George Drew.

            At a stockholders’ meeting on May 10th, 1922, the company by-laws were amended changing the annual meeting from the second Monday in January to the third Monday.

            On February 21st, 1923, at a joint meeting of the canal directors and the directors of the Buckeye Water Conservation and Drainage District, Mr. Harry L. Hancock was employed to lay out plans for the drainage system and to supervise construction on a 5% basis.  A resolution was passed also at this meeting calling for open drainage instead of tile in the first five units running north and south of the drainage district, and George Brown for the Wessex Company was given permission to construct a drain on Wessex land in the lower end of the valley to be reimbursed from the drainage funds when they became available.

            At a special called meeting on June 20th, 1923 of the stockholders in was revealed that former plans to finance the drainage plans had fallen through and it seemed there was no prospect of immediate relief to the waterlogged lands, so a resolution was introduced directing the board of directors to borrow $75,000 on the company note and construct the most necessary units as outlined by Engineer Honcock.

            Mr. Schmalhausen who was present, representing the Jennings Construction and Engineering Company of El Paso, proposed to take the contract and to accept the company’s note in payment, subject to the approval of the company’s lawyers.

            In July, 1923, Mr. G.A. Punteney of Phoenix presented an option contract to the board of directors for their approval, giving him the right to buy all drainage water developed by the district up to, but not exceeding 50,000 acre-feet per year, and to pay the district the rate of $0.50 per acre-foot.  The option to be in full force and effect up to and including November 1st, 1923.  he agreed to pick up the water at or near the mouth of the different discharge drainage ditches.  The board approved the option but it was never carried out.

            On July 12th, the Jennings Construction Company asked that the Irrigation Company amend their articles of incorporation so that they could have power to construct drainage projects.  So at a called meeting of the stockholders on August 18th, the following was added to articles of Incorporation, “To construct, operate and maintain ditches, conduits, pipelines, tile drains and other drainage works for draining any or all the lands receiving water or entitled water from the irrigation works of the corporation.

            “Provided, however, that no further expenditures shall be made, or indebtedness created for the purpose of drainage works construction when and in the event $80,000 shall have been so expended for such purpose.”

            In July, 1924, some of the Gillespie land owners brought suit against the Buckeye and Arlington Canals to determine if said companies were using water that belonged to them, they putting a claim on all drainage water from these respective districts.  The two companies joined in the defense in the suit; Buckeye to bear 75% and Arlington 25% of the costs.

            The firm of Hayes, Laney, Stanford and Allee was retained to defend the suit.

            On November 6th, 1924, the appeared this most interesting item in the minutes of the directors meeting.  “On motion duly made, seconded and carried, the superintendent was instructed to eliminate the purchase of eggs at the present high price.”

            At the annual stockholders’ meeting of January 19th, 1925, it was ordered by the stockholders that all waterlogged land assessments by cancelled upon the request of the land owners.  Over the past 10 years the assessments had accumulated to the amount of $29,739.31.  When the land was dewatered the stockholder could renew his right to water and go on from there.

            On April 19, 1918 a price of $20.00 per share was fixed on 4,000 shares of new stock issued by the canal company.  Each year thereafter the price was to increase $2.00 per share until it had reached $30.00.  At the 1925 annual meeting it was revealed that only 327.5 shares had been sold since issued.  Seeing that the stock was not going to sell at these prices the stockholders ordered that all future sales be fixed at $10.00 per share, the same as the old and original 16,000 shares had been sold.

            During the spring of 1925, F.A. Reid and S.C. Miller and the Gillespie Water Company both made propositions to the Irrigation Company to dewater the valley for the use of the water, by pumps or otherwise.  But neither offered anything concrete at the time, no action was taken.

            On April 7th, the bids for $200,000 bonds of the drainage district were opened at the irrigation office and it was found that the First Securities Company of Los Angeles was the highest of the three bidders at $93.03 and the irrigation board recommended that the drainage board accept the bid.

            On September 8th, 1925 bids were opened for a new headgate and wasteway and Henry Galbraith having submitted the lowest bid, it was awarded to him.

            On October 6th, 1925 S.C. Miller again came before the board and offered them a new proposition for dewatering the waterlogged lands of the valley, and after considerable discussion the Miller-Reid agreement was accepted.  It required that the Irrigation Company secure pump easements on 90% of the lands of the valley.  But as the company was unable to secure the required amount of easements, Mt. Miller again appeared before the board on August 8th, and offered to amend the agreement, cutting the easements down to 75%.  This was agreed to, and another try was made.

            In the year 1927, at the annual meeting it was voted that from then on any farmer desiring a lateral to his ranch would have to build it himself but the company would build all gates and structures in it so the water could be conserved and used beneficially.  Where a private ditch was already built the farmers were to enlarge, and put it in shape before the company would take it over as a lateral.  This resulted in a mad scramble to get ditches built, or enlarged so that the company would take them over.  Result, many new laterals, for the company to maintain, coming into use during the year.

            All records, no matter how dry, now and then have some humor scatted through them at different times, so on July 5th, 1927 at a regular board meeting appeared an item that at this distance strikes us as a little humorous.  At that time it was probably serious enough.  Maybe it was the heat or else the board had not fully recovered from celebrating on July 4th.

            It was moved and seconded that the secretary’s salary be cut in half, and was carried by a 4 to 3 vote.  It was then moved that the director’s per diem be cut for $5.00 to $3.00 and carried by a 5 to 2 vote.  Later in the meeting a motion was made to rescind the motion to cut the directors’ per diem and carried by a 4 to 3 vote.  Then that not seeming just right a vote taken on rescinding the cut in the secretary’s salary and carried by a 4 to 3 vote.  So they were back where they started from; the only employee getting anything out of the deal was a raise in the zanjero’s salary to $200 per month.  They were operating with only one zanjero at this time.  The superintendent looking after the upper end of the canal.

            At the August 3rd meeting of the directors a contract was entered into by the board and the Ruth Dredger Manufacturing Company for the purchase of a Dredger at the total price of $1,750 f.o.b. Huntington Park, California.

            On October 18th, the dredger having arrived and set up on the Zander Ranch for the excavation of a waste lateral, the board visited at and inspected the machine and its work and decided that the type of crawlers on which it was mounted was not suitable for this country and the work would have to do.  So Mr. T.A. Burch, the representative for the dredger company offered to get and install another type of crawler for the additional amount of $3,200.

            On November 17th, the board again visited the dredger with the new crawlers installed and after inspecting the one mile of work done, decided to purchase the machine at the agreed price of $14,950.

            At the annual meeting on January 16th, 1928, among the things to come up, Mr. William Walton made a protest against the newly formed Roosevelt Canal Company pumping water for the Buckeye Canal drainage district in Salt River Valley and asked that his protest be entered on the minutes of this meeting.  This was the opening gun on the lawsuit against all water users on the Salt and Gila rivers clear to the New Mexico line.  All summer long at every meeting some phase of the proposed water suit was discussed.

            On October 22nd, the Arlington Canal Company was invited to join in the suit on an 80-20 basis of expense.  The Arlington Canal Company to accept the latter figure, which they agreed to. Attorney Floyd Stahl had been retained as their attorney to represent them in the suit.

            All during the year 1928, there had been considerable discussion about putting down wells to increase the flow of water, and at one time the board by official action, advised the Drainage District board to put down at lease ten wells and later at another meeting increased it to twenty.

            In February, 1929, Engineer Hancock employed I.H. Parkman and James Wainscott to gather evidence for the contemplated suit, by putting down holes, measuring wells, etc.  In the south and west end of the Salt River Valley, up to Agua Fria as far as Peoria and up to the Gila as far as Sacaton.   As the Drainage District was having trouble disposing of their bonds at a reasonable figure, it was finally decided that the Irrigation Company had better take over the installation of pumps, both for irrigation and drainage up to $100,000

            Then, at such time that the drainage district could sell sufficient bonds at a reasonable figure, to repay the irrigation company the $100,000, or such part of it as had actually been expended.

            At the annual meeting on January 13th, 1931, a resolution was passed putting the sale of water on an acre-foot basis when the river flow fell below 6,000 inches, for a period of five days or more.  The company had during the meantime installed eight pumps and the water was now ready for use; hence the change of sale and distribution.  Water was fixed at the price of $1.00 per acre-foot.

            During the year several plans were set up or suggested for operating the acre-foot plan of selling water, and finally a system that was fair to all and workable was adopted.

            During the years 1932 and 1933, the big depression was on, farm prices had dropped to nothing and the farmers in many instances could not pay for water to make crops, so during these two years the main concerns of the board of directors was to try to devise ways and means so all could have water and meet their payments, so the company would have money to operate on.

            At the annual meeting of 1933, a plan was adopted authorizing the secretary to accept crop mortgages, in some cases, in lieu of cash, for the payment of water.  A great many took advantage of this, with the result that a year or so later the company found they were in possession of a lot of worthless paper as the crops were insufficient to redeem the notes and mortgages, or the proceeds from the sale of crops were used for other purposes and not turned in on the mortgages.  So it was ordered that all mortgages be cancelled and the indebtedness reverts back to the books of the company as delinquent payments and be treated as such.  A plan was adopted whereby the stockholder could pay a portion of the delinquent payments twice a year when he paid his current water bill.  It was a continual struggle during this period for the company to keep its head above water, and it resulted in wage cuts to all employees.  But during the year 1935, these wages and salaries were restored to their former level.

            During this year the company purchased a dragline machine to add to their equipment, and put down two more wells.

            The next few years were without any incident of any importance save the numerous meetings with government officials looking toward the still pending water suit.  Some of these meetings made it necessary for one of more of the company officials to make trips to Washington, Denver, Los Angeles and other places to meet with the different officials.

            On August 8th, 1940, the canal board instructed the superintendent to proceed with putting down well No. 12 to be located near the James Carter home on the bank of the canal.

            As the river bed was fast growing up with Tamarac Trees and Salt Cedars, it became a worry to the board and others as to what would happen if a big river came down as it had done at times in the past.  The board started a movement trying to interest the county and state officials in doing something about it, and later the Federal Government.  They got a lot of talk and promises, but no action on the river.

            Only routine matters came up for attention until June, 1941 when the board added to the canal equipment a small Caterpillar Tractor, a machine they had long needed.

            The board had been trying out the policy of running “free water” during the periods when the river was in flood, and on August 5th, 1941 they voted to run no pumps as long as the river furnished as much as 3,000 inches, but if the demand for more water became greater then they would charge the regular acre foot rate.

On June 2nd, 1942, a drainage well was ordered put down and equipped, one mile west and a half mile south of Palo Verde Store on Lateral 23.  As this was one of the worst waterlogged section of the Valley, it would be a good chance to see what a drainage well would do when placed in a strategic place.  Its operations resulted in the fact that water levels in that district were lowered quite perceptibly as long as it ran continually.

            By this time the Ruth-Dredger that had been purchased back in 1937 was getting pretty well worn out and the board began casting about for one to take its place.  Hearing of a used one in Fallon, Nevada a committee was sent up to look it over and returned with a favorable report.  Action was taken to close the deal.  It was purchased for $7,500 plus freight from the shipping point.

            January 4th, 1944 was an eventful day for the Buckeye Irrigation Company, when the water suit instituted in 1929 was brought to a successful conclusion, after 15 years of bickering.  The settlement was in the form of a compromise, with the Carl Pleasant outfit on the Agua Fria paying to the Buckeye Company $15,000 cash and the Salt River Water Users agreeing to turn over the Buckeye Canal above its head 1% of all stored water it ran each year, but never to exceed 1600 inches at any one time.  The water to be run on demand of the Irrigation Company both as to the time and amount.  At the close of each year, all unused water, if any, was to be canceled and to start over again.

            The Roosevelt Irrigation District was to pay for pumping up to 8,000 inches of water using Buckeye pumps, and if Buckeye did not use up the full amount, then in that case, what was left over to be added to next year’s amount.  While Congress had appropriated $10,000 to the Indians to pay their share for the settlement of the suit, it was not yet available to Buckeye as the Indian Tribal Council had to sign certain papers which they were often loathe to do.  They were signed sometime later, October, 1947, and the money was made available to the Buckeye Company.

            This money was paid to the Valley National Bank for notes held by them and the Company indebtedness lessened by that much.

            On March 7th, 1944, the board put all water on an acre-foot basis, flood waters and all, only at a reduced price.  This brought some objections from certain farmers that needed the “mud water” to build up their lands, but finally it was taken as a matter of course and no more was said about the matter.

            During the next year or so, things moved along in a quiet and orderly manner.  Two new wells were put down, one near old well No. 4 that had to be abandoned on account of a crooked casing caused from repeated cave-ins.

            During the year 1947, a representative of Phelps-Dodge mining interests at Morenci approached the Buckeye Secretary, A. T. Jones and offered to buy the water Buckeye had coming to them from the Salt River Valley Water Users Association in their settlement of the water suit some years before.  After some dickering back and forth the following schedule was worked out and incorporated in a four year contract.  Phelps –Dodge to pay Buckeye $25, 000 upon signing the contract and $25,000 on February 15, 1948 and beginning January, 1948 to pay $10 per acre-foot for all water Buckeye had coming from the Water Users, and at the rate of $15 per acre-foot for 1949, and $20 per acre foot for 1950 and 1951 when the contract would expire.

            At a Stockholders meeting on October 2nd, 1947 , the set-up was explained to them and they voted to enter into the contract if their attorney found they could do so without jeopardizing their rights to the ware.  The lawyers recommending that it could be done safely, the deal was closed.

            Immediately a well driller was put to work on new wells so that enough could be in production in the spring of 1948 to take care of the water they had contracted away.  The well drilling and installing pumps continued for some time, with the company having 24 wells in production by August of 1949.

            On December 6th, 1947, the board met with Mr. A.J. McMillan and Mr. B. Withrow of Holtvill, Concrete Pipe Company to discuss the costs and the feasibility of installing tile drains in this valley.

            The board sometime before had gone down to Imperial Valley and inspected some systems that had been put in and were working.

            After the board and the gentlemen from Holtville Concrete Pipe Company had made an inspection of the valley it was agreed that they would tile three different tracts, to-wit: 60 acres for Carl Towner, 20 acres for Long Brothers and 80 acres fro Tom Thedford, provided that fair and suitable contracts could be arranged with the parties concerned.

            At a meeting on January 6th, 1948, this record appears in the secretary’s book as follows:

            Motion made and seconded, (1) that $40.00 per acre be charged landowners for such lands as are tiled and drained; (2) landowners to be given 5 years to pay the amount charged for the tile drainage starting 3 years form completion date of tile installation; (3) the rate of interest to be 5% per annum to start after 3 year period; (4) if time drainage proves unsuccessful, no charge to be made landowner to installing said tile not any expense connected thereto; (5) a 3-man board to determine when and if, lands are drained (explains how chosen); (6) if tile is successful charges made by the Buckeye Irrigation Company against landowners subject to above terms and to be a lien against such property as are tiles and drained until charges are fully paid.

            On January 16th, 1948 a contract was entered into with the firm of Davis and Wardlow to tile the above mentioned lands.  The price agreed upon was $0.51 ½ for four inch drain and $0.58 for six inch.

            April 1st, 1948 Roy Decker of the Soil Conservation Service, who hade made a survey of the waterlogged lands of the Valley, made a report that there were 6,300 acres already waterlogged or on the verge of becoming so, and that 56,000 acre-feet of water would have to be removed from this area annually to effectively drain the area and that it would cost, in a 30 to 40 year period from $129 to $176 per acre, according to the method used for drainage.

            On April 6th, 1948 at an adjourned meeting of Stockholders the following amendment was added to the company’s by-laws: “In the event any board member is absent for three consecutive meetings, the remaining members shall appoint another stockholder who is otherwise qualified to serve for the balance of the unexpired term, and in the event any board member fails to attend as many as six regular monthly meetings during the year, such member shall not be eligible for re-election at the regular stockholders’ meeting.”

            On October 5th, 1948 C.M. Ainsworth, consulting engineer for the U.S. Borders Commission came before the canal board and reported as to the condition and necessity of cleaning the river channel in some way before a big flood came down it.  The Army engineers were planning to make a survey of conditions from Granite Reef to Gillespie Dam, but advised the board to do anything possible they could do in the meantime.

            On February 8th, 1949 a new set-up of canal management was instituted by the board.  Mr. Archie Enloe having resigned from the Board of Directors was made general superintendent of the Canal Company at a salary of $500 per month, and Carroll Parkman was retained as Company engineer at his regular salary.

            At the October 5th meeting, the “Right to Work Bill” came up for discussion and it was ordered that the secretary be instructed to send $200 to them as a donation to help in the passage of said bill.  It was also ordered after a full discussion that the company send $1,600 to the Central Arizona Project Association to help in the fight against California for Arizona’s just share of the Colorado River water.  At this same meeting, C.M. Ainsworth was retained as engineer to look after Buckeye’s interest in the river clearance problem and do whatever surveying that was necessary.  On Nov. 3rd, the superintendent was ordered to purchase 4 more pumps, two to be delivered in January and two in March, 1949.

            On December 11th, Mr. Ainsworth reported that after a conference with the engineers representing the Water Users Association, it was his opinion they were not much concerned of doing much of anything about the river clearance problem.

            At the Annual Stockholders’ meeting on January 17th, 1949 the same Board of Directors was elected with the exception of E.H. Johnson, who was replace by C.A. Elms, At the meeting of the newly constituted board, A.L. Landford was retained as president and J.R. Beloat as Vice President, with W.W. Weigold retained as secretary-treasurer.

            On February 8th, a new set-up was adopted by the board on canal management.  A.W. Enloe was named superintendent at a salary of $500 per month and Carroll Parkman retained as engineer at the salary of $350 per month.  Upon Enloe’s resignation as director, L.D. Hazen was appointed to fill the vacancy for Enloe’s unexpired term.  During the year, several pieces of much needed machinery were added to canal equipment, lessening hand labor and tending to lower the cost of maintenance.  Among the machinery purchased was a skip-loader, an International Truck, three pick-up trucks, a D-7 Caterpillar, inch and Angle Dozer and Ditching Machine.

            A continuation of the discussion of Salt Cedar eradication along the river was had from time to time with the Company Consulting Engineer C. M. Ainsworth and Federal and Army representatives, but no definite plan or start of the work was undertaken.  Superintendent Parkman did do considerable surveying of the river bed at the suggestion of the Army Engineers.

            In September, 1949 a movement was launched for a big celebration when the company had paid off its last bond and would be debt free.  The date was set for January 16th, 1950 with L.D. Hazen, John Beloat and Othel Narramore in charge of arrangements.  A full detail of the celebration will be found in a later chapter.

            At the Annual Stockholder’s meeting, 1950, Bob Long, Othel Narramore, A.L. Lanford, L.D. Hazen, C.A. Elms, John Beloat and Wallace Bales received the highest votes and were declared elected as directors.  Lanford was elected again as president and Beloat as vice-president, with W.W. Weigold as secretary-treasurer.

            During the year, the talk of the river bottom clearance went on, and on June 3rd, Engineer Ainsworth stated at a meeting of the Board of Directors that the Army Engineers informed him that even if the project is approved, it will take from 5 to 6 years to get an appropriation and do the work.  The estimated cost was put at $3,000,000 for the 77 miles of clearance 2,000 feet wide.  As river water kept getting less and less, in the past few years, it was quite evident that more pumps would have to be installed to take care of the shortage and furnish the required amount of water needed.  On October 18th, the board authorized the drilling of 14 new wells, at strategic points throughout the Valley.  On December 12th, the board, after inspection, bought a used well drilling rig for $6,000.

            At the regular directors meeting on January 2nd, 1951, the matter of new wells being drilled on the Indian Reservation came up for discussion with representatives from Arlington present.  A.T. Jones stated there were 20 wells drilled within 10 miles of the head of the Canal since the settlement of the old water suit and close enough to the rivers to perhaps dry them up entirely.  It was decided to talk the matter over with their attorneys and take action if possible.

            At the Annual Stockholders’ meeting on January 15th, Bob Long, C.A. Elms, P.G. Pflufer, Elmer Shepard, Othel Narramore and A.W. Enloe were elected as directors with W.W. Weigold retained as secretary-treasurer.  L.D. Hazen was elected president and Bob Long as vice-president and Carroll Parkman retained as superintendent.

            At the board meeting on January 23rd, the salaries of most of the employees of the Irrigation Company were given a slight raise in keeping with the times and cost of living.

            At the board meeting on February 21st, it was decided to appoint L.D. Hazen as temporary superintendent, while Caroll Parkman worked on the suit against the farmers that had installed wells in the St. Johns-Laveen District.  His salary was fixed at $500, and he was to furnish his own transportation.  An Engineer Harding was retained in the Underground Water suit, it any was had.

            During 1951, local rains continued for two weeks and stormwater from the White Tanks area caused flooding.  The natural desert washes ran in a southwesterly direction, with an unusually large wash running near the community of Palo Verde.  A huge mass of water from the wash destroyed much of the lower section on the canal, causing flooding in many homes.  Palo Verde Road was washed away and a 10 to 15 foot gully resulted just below the canal.  The flume under the Hassayampa River to the Tovrea property was washed out also.

            At the December 4th meeting of the directors, L.D. Hazen proposed that the secretary take over the duties of general manager of the Company as of January 1st, 1952.  His resignation was accepted and Weigold appointed to the duties.

            At the Annual Stockholders’ meeting hold on January 21st, 1952, Othel Narramore, Vernon Beloat, B.E. Schweikary, Carl Arnold, A.W. Enloe, P.G. Pfluger and L.D. Hazen were elected to constitute the board of directors for the coming year.  Othel Narramore was named as president and Vernon Beloat as vice-president.  W.W. Weigold was named as secretary-manager and he was empowered to employ someone for full time service in the office.

            During the year 1952, short water was one of the major problems of worry and discussion of the board, so they set aside $25,000 early in the year to cement line laterals and try and save some seepage waste that they were losing.  On January 26th, 1953 discussion was had in regards to setting aside another $25,000 for the same purpose.  At this same meeting, A.T. Jones asked to be relieved of part of his duties as Court Water Commissioner, and it was arranged to let the watchman at the head do the measuring of the water in the river, under the supervision of Jones, and that Jones’ salary by reduced from $80 to $50 per month.
            During the year 1953, Arlington Canal Company and the Buckeye Irrigation Company had been having some trouble over Buckeye waster water.  Arlington had been damming up the water into their canal.  This made it necessary to back the water up several feet in the ditch and so tend to waterlog the adjoining land and also cause the deep ditched to cave in more or less.

            On February 3rd, representatives from Arlington appeared before the Buckeye Board and worked out a plan whereby they could use the water, by signing a contract agreeing to take all responsibility for damage and to build and maintain all needed structures.

            In March, a new Gradall was purchased and put to work on the South Extension.  Talk during the year was carried on from time to time in regards to threatened suit against Phoenix and Salt River Water Users for holding water behind Horseshoe Dam for Phoenix, contending that Phoenix acted illegally in closing the gates before water was pouring over Gillespie Dam.  Judge Tuller of Tucson was named to hear the case.

            A new measuring weir was constructed at the canal intake in 1953 according to specifications from the University of Arizona.  Ed Stearman of Stearman Construction Company was the job engineer.  Ed’s son, Bob Streaman, was Superintendent of the Buckeye Irrigation Company in the 50’s. 

            Also in 1953, Arizona Public service entered into a 25 year power contract with the Buckeye Water Conservation and Drainage District, after the government ruled APS was not qualified to keep the block of Federal Hoover power.  They sold the power to five municipalities, dividing it up according to the use of the five District, thus resulting in a much cheaper rate than the regular price of power.  This contract was rewritten in 1987 under new terms.

            At the Annual election of 1954 the old board was unanimously elected by acclamation.  Othel Narramore was again retained as president and B.E. Schweikart elected vice-president.  W.W. Weigold was again appointed secretary-manager.

            During the first of the year, the Carl Hegi home burned and his wife and one child lost their lives in the fires, so in April the board ordered that $100 be cut off of his water assessment as a neighborly goodwill gesture and to help him out in time of need.

            In May the board of directors appropriated $25,000 more for the lining of ditches.  It seems that there had been a widespread demand for ditch lining since it once got under way, and much water saved thereby.

            Also in May, Mr. Ott Dixon filed suit against the Canal Company for alleged damages to the extent of $200,000.  His cause for action was listed: #1 To have boundary lines between Dixon and Johnson and between Dixon and Baker moved west 400 feet. #2  The Company using ditches between the places.  #3The Company failed to deliver water to 70 acres of barley and set the damage at $10,000.  #4 Claims of insufficient water for the past 4 years, because gates were not kept locked and water being stolen by other stockholders.  #5 That Directors and Managers were illegally elected at last Stockholders’ meeting.

            During the year an agreement was made with the U.S. Department of Interior for use of one of the Company’s wells on a test to determine whether it was feasible to de-mineralize water used for irrigation.  Well #2 was placed at their disposal.  The necessary machinery was installed and the tests started.

            On January 17th, 1955, the annual stockholders’ meeting was held and Narramore, Beloat, Pfluger, Schweikart, Lanford, Arnold and Bales were elected directors and Narramore and Schweikart were elected president and vice-president, with Weigold retained as secretary-manager.

            During the year, the company granted the County of Maricopa a right-of-way across their property at the head of the canal for a road to provide a means of ingress and egress to a County Park opened up in the hills across the river to the south.

            In February of this year, the Board of Directors revealed that water levels all over the district were lowering fast.  #11 well was cited as an example.  In 1952, static water level was 22.4 feet and 1955, 42.9 feet.  This was given as a general trend over most of the district.

            On Sunday, March 15th, the upper zanjero’s house burned down and at the next meeting the board ordered a block house constructed at a cost of approximately $3,500.  Insurance on the burned house of $2,000 was carried by the Company.

            The Annual Stockholders meeting of 1956 named the following gentlemen to the Board of Directors, to-wit: Narramore, Beloat, Schweikart, Lanford, Arnold, Bales and Marshall Long.  Othel Narramore was again elected as president and B.E. Schweikart as vice-president with W.W. Weigold retained as secretary-manager.

            At this meeting it was stressed by several stockholders that many of the pumps have had long hard service, and it would be the wise thing to check all pumps as to the condition and to set up a replacement fund to be used when needed.

In October, 1960 the company started negotiating on purchasing the Stillman property at 205 Roosevelt Ave., he present site of the Company office.  The previous company office was located at 203 South 4th Street.  The 4th Street building was constructed by H.M. Watson, and it also housed the Buckeye Valley Bank.  On January 16th, 1961, the stockholders made the final decision on the new office purchase and soon thereafter, Buckeye Irrigation Company moved into int former Massey Ferguson Implement Company building.  In the fall of 1981, the company office was remodeled, making two attractive office rooms and a main conference room out of the original implement display room.  All work was done by company personnel including Jess Hooten and Dan Keck.

In 1965, the company began bargaining for the purchase of the effluent water form the City of Phoenix and the other SROG (Southwest Regional Operating Group) cities.  The following year, 1966, approval was given for 30,000 acre-feet of water per year.  Delivery was started in 1971, and this water has proved to be a boost to the water delivery in the Valley.

A 25-year dry period on the Salt River watershed ended on January 4th, 1966, when the “Big Flood” on the Salt River occurred.  This was the first flood coming down the Gila River since December 31st, 1941.  Much damage was done to the main canal with the peak water flow at the head being 75,000 cubic feet per second, causing the lead-in channel to be destroyed.  Repair work was begun immediately which required extensive mending at the heading to restore water supply to normal.

Each big flood washes the dam and canal intake at the head, where the river is diverted, and the head has to be reconstructed as quickly as possible to get water back into the canal.  When the 1966 flood subsided, the river flowed at the toe of a butte on the south side of the broad river bed.  The intake was high and dry and was separated from the new channel by a stretch of “quick” sand.  Two bulldozers were sent in to excavate a ditch diagonally across the sand.  It was no easy task, and one bulldozer was used to pull the other out of the “quick” sand.  However, it was eventually completed and all the water flowed into the canal heading again.

Each flood raised the water level in the irrigation and drainage wells.  One well, a mile away, showed a recovery of four feet, and the level of one located at the river rose 32 feet.

Another big flood hit the Valley September 8th, 1970, mostly from the local storm, and from the White Tanks area.  It caused great damage to the upper half of the main canal and other points west.  Many portions of the canal had to be reconstructed, as there were more than two dozen major breaks in the entire canal system.  Since this time, flood control dikes have been installed by the Government in conjunction with protecting I-10 and the channeling of the runoff from the White Tanks Mountain area.

Since 1970, four additional major floods occurred.  The first happened on March 4th, 1978.  Some of the old timers thought it was the biggest flood ever to hit Central Arizona.  Heavy rains caused massive floods from both the Gila and Salt Rivers.  Heavy rains caused massive floods from both the Gila and Salt Rivers.  Records show 125,000 cfs at the peak at the company headworks.  Salt cedars, other debris and silt in the river bottom forced water into strange new patterns, and lands that escaped such flooding in recent years were covered.  Roosevelt lake filled up, and water was released which caused even greater flooding and disaster to farms, livestock, property and equipment near the river.  During this flood, families along Beloat Road loaded up belongings, installed sand bags and moved livestock.  Yet, many young pigs were lost in the swirling water.  A large number of homes had three-to-four feet of water running through the doors and windows, and some had as much as eight feet of water surrounding them.  Great damage was done to the north bank of the river and also to the South Extension just above Highway 85 and Perryville Roads.  Some acreage was lost into the river and several dairies moved their herds to higher ground in order to continue operations.

The second flood of that year came December 18th, which was larger than the one in March with the peak at the head being recorded at 150,000 cfs.  The diversion channel was destroyed; the same ditches were damaged to an even greater degree.  However, because of the new dike and a good river channel on the south side of the river, the head remained undamaged.  Due to greater damage of latter floods, Federal Aid was applied for and received through the Buckeye Water Conservation and Drainage District.

The other flood mentioned came January 2nd, 1979.  A peak of 140,000 cfs was recorded at the company head, causing an even greater degree of damage.  During this flood, extensive damage was created in the Palo Verde areas to most of the lands near the river.  In some farms, boulders that were once a part of the river bed before the Valley was put into cultivation were uncovered.

On February 13th, 1980, a similar flood took place when the Roosevelt Dam released considerable water which caused even more flooding along and near the river.

In October of 1978, discussion began about the purchase of radios for Company use.  It was proposed that 4 units and a base station by purchased from Motorola.  A license for 10 units was agreed upon even if not all the units were needed at the present time.  The units were installed in 1980, and 2 new radios were purchased August 4th, 1981, for two pickups.  This communication system had proved to be more useful and time-savings, especially in water deliveries and maintenance.

In 1980, a comprehensive Ground Water Code was passed by the State Legislature.  The goal of the 1980 Ground Water Code was to balance the water budget for the State and to avoid excess groundwater overdraft, although some ground has always been in this status.  After the floods and the recharge of effluent, the Buckeye Valley was again waterlogged and was not overdrafting the groundwater.  The Buckeye Irrigation Company and its neighbors, The Arlington Canal Company and St. Johns Irrigation District, joined together to be removed from the unreasonable groundwater requirements.  The Legislature, in response to Buckeye’s call for relief, passed House Bill 2222.  The bill exempted the three districts while a comprehensive study of hydrology and farming practices was completed.  The study was completed in December of 1987, and the Arizona Department of Water Resources recommended the area be removed from active management and should be exempted form the groundwater conservation regulations.  Special thanks for the many hours of lobbying the Legislature are due to Kyle Hindman and Robert Towner.



Chapter IV – Buckeye Irrigation Co. Celebrates Paying Off Indebtedness.

            Saturday, January 14th, 1950, was a big day with the farmers of the Buckeye Irrigation Company.  The day they had been looking for, for the last 43 years, celebrating the fact that they were free of debt, something few canal companies of comparable size can say.

            It was decided by the board of directors some months ago, to put on some sort of celebration as befitting the occasion.  A bag barbeque was the final decision, with all stockholders past and present and their families to participate.

            Jack and Pete Narramore were selected to cook the meat.  And we will say here and now they did a mighty good job of it.  A beef and a half, 600 pounds were prepared for the feast.  Johnny Dew, Carroll Parkman and Olin Webb cooked the beans, 100 pounds of them, with the women of the Buckeye Grammar School Cafeteria, where the big event was help, preparing the coleslaw and supervising the serving of the meal.

            It was estimated that about 350 people were fed.  This was considerably lower than was anticipated by the committee as they had made preparations to feed about 600.

            After dinner, Thornton Jones took over and put on a short program over a loud speaker system installed by the Auctioneer Herman Moore of Phoenix.  Mr. Jones introduced some of the men who helped organize the present Buckeye Irrigation Company and had aleading part in the conduct of its affairs.  Among those introduced were Henry Hamels, the first president, 1907; W.A. Evans, vice-president, 1908; Judge Stanford, who was judge in the water suit known as the Benson-Allison decree, 1917; Attorney Floyd Stahl who handled the legal side of the recently concluded water suit begun in 1929, against the Roosevelt Irrigation District, Salt River Water Users Association and other canal companies.  Also, John L. Gust, Jr. son of the late John L. Gust, who was the company’s attorney for 40 years or more and L.G. Galland, who helped many farmers over a rough place with a timely loan, was present and also introduced.

            Mr. Jones gave a brief review of the organization and first location of the Buckeye Canal down to the organization of the present company in March, 1907.  He read the names and gave the years of service of every man that had served on the board from the organization in 1907 down to the present time, introducing any of the old members that were present.  He also gave a list of all the former presidents and the number of years each one served.  He then reviewed the growth and work of the present company down to date, emphasizing the fact that the company wwas out of debt and now had a clear slate to start writing on.  One of the present directors expressed himself as “now being out of debt we want to so manage the affairs of the company that from no on out, we pay our way as we go and not go in debt again.”

            The Buckeye High School Band furnished music for the occasion under the direction and leadership of their band master, John McConnell.

            The committee of canal board members responsible for the big day and its complete success were Bob Long, Othel Narramore and Lloyd Hazen.



[1] Michael C. Meyer, Water in the Hispanic Southwest: A Social and Legal History, 1550-1850 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1984) 23. See, also, Roger Dunbier, The Sonora Desert: Its Geography, Economy, and People (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1970).  For its importance to the natural and human history of the American Southwest, the Gila River has inspired surprisingly few books. Two of the best known are Edwin Corle The Gila: River of the Southwest (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1951) and Ross Calvin, River of the Sun (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1951).  Corle’s book is useful but dated, reflecting an ideology of conquering the wilderness.  Other noteworthy accounts are M. H. Salmon, Gila Descending (Silver City, New Mexico, 1985); Edmund Andrews, et. al., Colorado River Ecology and Dam Management, (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1991); Arizona Rivers Coalition, Arizona Rivers: Lifeblood of the Desert (Phoenix: Arizona Rivers Coalition, 1991); Richard L. Berkman and W. Kip Viscusi, Damming the West (New York: Grossman, 1973); Charles Bowden, Killing the Hidden Waters (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1977); Philip L. Fradkin, A River No More: The Colorado River and the West (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1981): Paul Horgan, The Great River: The Rio Grande in North American History (New York: Rinehart and Company, 1954); H.B.N. Hyne, The Ecology of Running Waters (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977); Ed Marston, Water Made Simple (Covelo, CA: Island Press, 1987); Frank H. Olmstead, Gila River Flood Control (Washington, D.C.: Sen. Doc. No. 436, 65 Cong. 3 Sess, Government Printing Office, 1919); Rich Johnson, The Central Arizona Project, 1918-1968 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1977); Tim Palmer, Endangered Rivers and the Conservation Movement (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986); John Wesley Powell, Lands of the Arid Region of the United States (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1879); Marc Reisner, Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water (New York: Viking Press, 1986); Salt River Project, Taming of the Salt (Phoenix: Salt River Project, 1979); John Walton, Western Times and Water Wars (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1992); Frank Welsh, How to Create a Water Crisis (Boulder: Johnson Books, 1985); Donald Worster, Rivers of Empire (New York: Pantheon, 1985). 

[2] See Thomas D. Hall, Social Change in the Southwest, 1350-1880 (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1989); Donald W. Meinig, Southwest: Three Peoples in Geographical Change, 1600-1970 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971). Specialists in Southwest history, who are numerous, have yet to concur on cultural consequences or chronology, and the overall prehistory of North America.  The field undergoes substantial revision every decade.  The longtime dean of Southwestern archeology is Emil Haury, who was one of the first scholars to present large-scale studies of the region.  See Emil Haury, Hohokam: Desert Farmers and Craftsmen (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1976); Emil Haury, Prehistory of the American Southwest (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1986); Emil Haury, The Archeology and Stratigraphy of Ventana Cave, Arizona (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1966).  Also, one should consult Suzanne K. Fish, et. al., eds., The Marana Community in the Hohokam World (Tucson: Anthropological Papers of the University of Arizona No. 56, 1993). 

[3] The literature is extensive concerning Spanish exploration in the region.  Without question Herbert Eugene Bolton’s work during the first half of the twentieth century set the standard.  See, for example, Herbert Eugene Bolton, Anza’s California Expeditions 5 vols.  (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1930); Herbert Eugene Bolton, “The Early Explorations of Father Garces on the Pacific Slope,” The Pacific Ocean in History, ed. Morris Stevens, (MacMillan: New York, 1917); Herbert Eugene Bolton, Guide to the Materials for the History of the United States in the Principal Archives in Mexico (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution, 1913); Herbert Eugene Bolton, “The Mission as a Frontier Institution in the Spanish American Colonies,” American Historical Review 23 (1917), 42-61; Herbert Eugene Bolton, Rim of Christendom: A Biography of Eusebio Francisco Kino, Pacific Coast Pioneer (New York: MacMillan, 1936).  See, also, Edward H. Spicer, Cycles of Conquest: The Impact of Spain, Mexico, and the United States on the Indians of the Southwest, 1533 to 1960 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1962); Francisco Garces, O.F.M., Diario de exploraciones en Arizona y California en los Anos de 1775 y 1776, ed. John Galvin (Mexico, D.F.: Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, 1976). 

[4] See Emil W. Haury, Harold S. Gladwin, E.B. Sayles, and Winifred Gladwin, Excavations at Snaketown, Material Culture (Globe, Arizona: Medallion Papers No. 25, 1937); SWCA Consultants, Arizona Geological Survey, and Arizona State Land Department, Gila River Navigability Study (Phoenix, 1996), IV-1; John L. Kessel, Friars, Soldiers, and Reformers: Hispanic Arizona and the Sonora Mission Frontier, 1767-1856 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1976), 1-10.

[5] Kessell, Friars, Soldiers, and Reformers, 90-115; Arizona State Land Department, Gila River Navigability, IV-1; Sidney B. Brinckerhoff and Odie B. Faulk, Lancers for the King: A Study of the Military System of Northern New Spain, with a Translation of the Royal Regulations of 1772 (Tempe: Arizona Historical Foundation, 1965).  The expedition, comprising roughly 200 people, traveled from Horcasitas, Sonora to San Francisco via the Gila River.  The party traveled the Gila from the Casa Grande ruins to the Colorado River.

[6] A solid source for this transitional period is James Officer, Hispanic Arizona, 1536-1856 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1987). Also, a good general source is Thomas Sheridan, Arizona: A History (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1996).

[7] Federal officials were then to invest the proceeds in a permanent interest-bearing school fund.  Congress, in fact, later applied this technique of granting lands to other social purposes. It granted lands to the states to fund the building of canals, the dredging and clearing of rivers, and building of wagon roads.  See for example, Richard White, “”It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own:’ A New History of the American West (Norman: University of Oklahama Press, 1996) 138-139; Jon A. Souder and Sally K. Fairfax, State Trust Lands: History, Management, and Sustainable Use (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996) chapters 1 and 2.

[8] Interestingly, the federal government facilitated this process by issuing land scrip; the nineteenth century equivalent of food stamps.  Issued by the government, it could be redeemed in exchange for a specific commodity: land.  Unlike food stamps, however, scrip could be legally traded and sold. When Congress distributed script to veterans, few of them actually took up land on the public domain.  Most sold it to others and a regular market in land scrip developed.  Speculators interested in western lands purchased scrip because it sold less than $1.25 an acre; a price less than that mandated by Congress. 

[9] Quoted in White, A New History of the American West, 140.

[10] British born George Henry Evans was a radical reformer who joined the Working Men’s Movement of 1829 and the trade union movements of the 1830s.  In 1844, Evans spearheaded the organizing of the National Reform Association which lobbied Congress and recruited supporters with the slogan, “Vote Yourself a Farm.”  Between 1844 and 1862 Congress received petitions signed by 55,000 Americans calling for free lands for homesteaders. Evans published and edited a series of radical newspapers, including Workingman’s Advocate (1829-36, 1844-45) The Man (1834), The Radical (1841-43), People’s Rights (1844), and Young America (1845-49).  He died in 1855, prior to enactment of the Homestead Act.  The best recent book that places Evans work in perspective is Jamie Bronstein, Land Reform and Working Class Experience in Britain and the United States (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999).

[11] New York Tribune, August 22, 1864. See also White, It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own, 143.

[12] At the end of three years speculators easily avoided the intent of the law and completed their claim. The original Desert Land Act of 1876 called for adequate irrigation but did not specify how officials of the land office could determine what was adequate. The omission created vast opportunities for fraud.  Speculators paid people to make claims and plow a few furrows and claimed that the furrows were irrigation ditches. 

[13] Littlefield, “Assessment, 11, 12.

[14] Instructions to the Surveyor General of Oregon is reprinted in C. Albert White, A History of the Rectangular Survey System (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, 1983) 433-456. White’s work was published by the U.S. government as a review of all practices used by the federal government surveyors on public lands since the initial surveys of the Old Northwest (today, Ohio and other parts of the Upper Midwest) were undertaken in the late 1700s.  In addition to a detailed history of those procedures, White reprints many of the original surveying instructions.

[15] In fact, Jefferson’s ideas were first enacted into law in the General Land Ordinance of 1785 and the first surveys under this legislation were completed in Ohio.  It was this ordinance that provided for the rectangular land survey and the sale of western lands. It also initiated the program of land grants for schools, providing for lot number 16 in every township would be reserved “for the maintenance of public schools within said township.” The Northwest Ordinance, passed two years later, provided a system for territorial governance and transition to statehood.  See Souder and Fairfax, State Trust Lands, 18.  When the 1785 and 1787 ordinances passed, the nation was still operating under the Articles of Confederation; the Constitution did not come into effect until 1789.  And, the most important strand in these policies is the “Equal Footing Doctrine,” which has become so ingrained that many people erroneously look for it in the Constitution. Both the Land Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 have become entwined since new states could not gain the land for schools that had been set aside in the 1785 Ordinance without satisfying the prerequisites for statehood defined by the Northwest Ordinance.

[16] The instructions directed, “…at the intersections of the lines with both margins of impassable obstacles, you will establish a Witness Point (for the purpose of perpetuating the intersections therewith) by setting a post, and giving in your field book the course and distance there from, to two trees on the opposite sides of the line, each of which trees you will mark with a blaze and notch facing the post; but on the margins of navigable water courses, or navigable lakes, you will mark the trees with the proper number of the fractional section, township, and range. Instructions to the Surveyor General of Oregon; Being a Manual for Field Operations (1851), reprinted in White, A History of the Rectangular Survey System, 439.

[17] Federal legislation directing that navigable bodies of water be meandered was first passed in 1796, but that law did not specify what constituted navigability.  See White, A History of the Rectangular Survey System, 30.

[18] However, meander corner posts were to be placed where the lines intersected navigable bodies of water: “intersections by line of water objects. All rivers, creeks, and smaller streams of water which the survey line crosses; the distance on line at the witness points of intersection and their widths on line.” In cases of navigable streams, “their width will be ascertained between meander corners, as set forth under the proper heading.”  See White, A History of the Rectangular Survey System, 444.

[19] For the 1855 discussion of how bodies of water were to be recorded see the cumbersomely titled Instructions to the Surveyors General of Public Lands of the United States, for Those Surveying Districts Established in and Since the Year 1850; Containing Also, A Manual of Instructions to Regulate the Field Operations of Deputy Surveyors, Illustrated by Diagrams (1855), in White, A History of the Rectangular Survey System, 458-465.  For the 1864 revision see Instructions for the Surveyors General of the United States, Relating to Their Duties and the to the Field Operations of Deputy Surveyors (1864) in White, A History of the Rectangular Survey System, 504.

[20] The instructions added that for the sake of consistency, one bank meanders were to be done on the right side—looking downstream—unless obstacles made it necessary to switch to the left bank.  If a change to the left side were made, it was to be done at a point where a survey line crossed the stream and recorded in the field notes.

[21] “Resurvey Field Notes of Township 1 North, Range 2 West, Gila and Salt River Meridian,” 1907, vol R2055, 105, 109, 133, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Phoenix, Arizona, [LRA Box/File 35/14]; Resurvey Plat of Township 1, North, Range 2 West, Gila and Salt River Meridian, 1907, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Phoenix, Arizona [LRA Box/File: 35/14]. See, also, Littlefield, Assessment, 49. 

[22] See Jack L. August, Jr. Vision in the Desert: Carl Hayden and Hydropolitics in the American Southwest (Ft. Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1999) 43-68; Norris Hundley, Jr. Water and the West: The Colorado River Compact and the Politics of Water in the American West (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975); Jr., Jack L. August, Jr., “Carl Hayden’s ‘Indian Card’: Environmental Politics and the San Carlos Reclamation Project,” Journal of Arizona History 34 (Winter 1993); Telephonic interview, Douglas Littlefield, Oakland, CA, June 20, 2004.

[23] As noted, the Wheeler Survey was conducted under the auspices of the U.S. Army in the post-Civil War period, when the nation turned its attention from North-South issues, to East-West concerns.  The USGS was created in 1879, and Wheeler’s Survey is considered part of that agency’s predecessors. See the Pulitzer Prize-winning, William Goetzmann, Exploration and Empire: The Explorer and the Scientist in the Winning of the American West (New York: Norton, 1967), 392.

[24] George M. Wheeler, Report on Exploration of the Public Domain in Nevada and Arizona, Ex Doc. 65, 42 Cong. 2 Sess. (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1872), 17-20, 53 [LRA Box/File: 8/18]; Littlefield, “Assessment,” 91-92; Goetzmann, Exploration and Empire, 392.

[25] Twelfth Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey to the Secretary of the Interior, 1890-91, Part II-Irrigation (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1891), 292 [LRA Box/File: 9/91]; Littlefield, “Assessment,” 93. As has been well documented in numerous accounts, including, August, Vision in the Desert, chapters 2 and 3, for example, floods in the years 1891 and 1905 were especially destructive throughout the lower Colorado River Basin.  These floods were especially dramatic on the Gila.

[26] Twelfth Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey to the Secretary of the Interior, 1890-91, Part II-Irrigation (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1891), 295 [LRA Box/File: 9/9].

[27] A table recording the discharge at Gila City (Dome) accompanied this report. It further elaborated upon the erratic nature of the Gila.  On February 8, 1905, for example, the discharge was 82,000 cubic feet per second, but just eight days later, on February 16, no discharge at all was recorded.

[28] See description of this 1905 report in Littlefield, “Assessment,” 94; Telephonic interview with Douglas Littlefield, Oakland, CA, June 30, 2004.

[29] See August, Vision in the Desert, 52; Edward Charles Murphy, et. al. Destructive Floods in the United States in 1905, with a Discussion of Flood Discharge and Frequency and an Index to Flood Literature, U.S. Geological Survey Water Supply Paper No. 162 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1906), 48 [LRA Box/File: 10/27].

[30] Summary of Records of Surface Waters at Stations on Tributaries in Lower Colorado River Basin, 1888-1938, U.S. Geological Survey Water Supply Paper No. 1049 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1947) 230-237 [LRA Box/File: 18/9]. See also, W.B. Freeman, et. al., Surface Water Supply of the United StatesColorado River Basin, U.S. Geological Survey Water Supply Paper No. 289 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1912), 200 [LRA Box/File: 26/26].  This study, written about water supply in 1910, provided additional useful information on the character of the Gila.  It labeled the river “torrential” and further described it as “sometimes impassable for weeks…and has the appearance of a muddy sea of water.”   The paper added that “the season of low water occurs in June and July, the river bed being dry in some places.”

[31] See the unpublished report, George M. Wheeler, “Progress Report upon Geographical and Geological Explorations and Surveys West of the 100th Meridian in 1872,” Box 1, Entry 20, RG 57, Records of the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. National Archives II, College Park, Maryland [LRA Box/File 18/15]. 

[32] Department of the Interior, General Land Office, Affirming R&R Decision, February 24, 1912, “37-A-5 Straights Preliminary Investigations-Sentinal Project 37-A-5” General Correspondence File (Straights) #37-A, RG 115, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, National Archives—Rocky Mountain Region, Denver, Colorado [LRA Box/File: 12/1]; Littlefield, “Assessment,” 98.

[33] New Mexico and Arizona Territory entered the Union on February 7, 1912 and February 14, 1912 respectively.

[34] See E.C. Murphy, “Water Power Utilization in Arizona,” April 1915, Part II, Salt River Project Archives, Phoenix, Arizona [LRA Box/File: 6/4].  Introduction, 1.

[35] Murphy, “Water Power Utilization in Arizona,” passim.  Murphy concluded this section: “There are many ditches diverting water from the Gila in this part, and the area that can be irrigated is very large, but the area actually irrigated is comparatively small on account of small and uncertain supply. As stated previously, there may be several years in succession of very small run-off. During these years only groundwater is available for some of this land. 

[36] For early Reclamation Service activities see, August, Vision in the Desert, 30-153; Samuel P. Hays, Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency: The Progressive Conservation Movement, 1890-1920 (New York: Atheneum Press, 1975) passim; Hundley, Water and the West, passim. Like the Geological Survey, the Reclamation Service drafted annual reports delineating its activities, and these contain descriptions of the Gila River. During the period under discussion, the Reclamation Service focused on the eventual San Carlos Reservoir site above the Gila’s confluence with the Salt. Nevertheless, the reports address the Gila below the Salt.  For material on this topic see, Jack L. August, Jr., “Carl Hayden’s Indian Card: Environmental Politics and the San Carlos Reclamation Project,” Journal of Arizona History 34 (Winter 1993).  

[37] First Annual Report of the Reclamation Service from June 17 to December 1, 1902 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1903), 75 [LRA Box/File 9/1].

[38] R. H. Forbes, Irrigation and Agricultural Practice In Arizona, University of Arizona Agricultural Experiment Station (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1911), 14-15 [LRA Box/File: 9/7]; See also, Littlefield, “Assessment,” 105-106.

[39] Forbes, Irrigation and Agricultural Practice in Arizona, 32, 46-48.

[40] The most important of these acts was “An Act to Secure Homesteads to Actual Settlers on the Public Domain,” 37 Cong. 2 Sess., ch. 75 (1862).  This law was widely known as the Homestead Act.

[41] See White, A History of the Rectangular Survey System, 434-437; Littlefield, “Assessment,” 57-60.  Littlefield provides several sound examples of this dimension of the issue. Another reason why these patents are important in helping determine whether the Gila River was navigable at the time of statehood relates to their supporting files.  Since a settler had to sign an affidavit about improvements and similar documents had to be secured from an eyewitness, a patent file not only reiterated acreage, but also it conveyed details whether a settler/farmer conveyed water from the Gila River or whether improvements were made for other purposes. Noting in these documents suggested that the Gila was navigable or that the settlers used the river to convey commercial goods.

[42] State Patent 219, 1918; State Patent 6353, 1976; State Patent, 6566, 1978,  Arizona State Land Department, Phoenix, Arizona

[43] See Act of October 2, 1888, and Amendatory Acts of March 2, 1889, August 30, 1890, and Section 17 of the Act of March 3, 1891, which takes a corrective approach to the seemingly restrictive elements in the 1888 law. Chamberlin wrote that the 1888 law would apply to the Buckeye District, the homesteads or entry men could not gain title to their land, or file on more so it would be unwise for his company to invest directly or indirectly in the Buckeye Valley. 

[44] See Jack L. August, Jr., “Carl Hayden: Born A Politician,” Journal of Arizona History (26, 2) 117-144.

[45] Parkman, History of Buckeye Canal, 5.

[46] Hoof and Horn (Prescott) July 1, 1886; Arizona Gazette, April 20, 1886.

[47] When completed the Walnut Grove Dam was 135 feet thick at bedrock, tapering 10 feet at its 110-foot height.  It was 175 feet across the stream and 400 feet-long on top. See Phoenix Daily Herald, July 9, August 4, and December 15, 1887.

[48] The winter of 1889-90 was unusually wet and the reservoir behind Walnut Dam filled to capacity.  Storms and snow melt pushed the new dam to its limits. Swolen flood gates could not be opened, even with dynamite. 

[49] See Earl Zarbin, Roosevelt Dam: A History to 1911 (Salt River Project: Phoenix, Arizona 1984) 25; Phoenix Daily Herald, February 24, March 4, March 5, 1890.

[50] Parkman, History of Buckeye Canal, 6-7.

[51] August, “Carl Hayden: Born A Poltician,” JAH, 129.