The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised


Irrigation Makes 'Em Get Busy.
    When a man puts his land under an irrigating ditch he just naturally gets busy--he can’t help it. S. A. Carlton, who owns a fine farm over near Wellen post office, is almost always a pretty busy man--and he has been for years, else he would not now own the fine farm he does, but for several months past he has been unusually busy, so much so that many of his Medford friends have asked if "Uncle Dolph" was away visiting. He was in town this week for the first time for several months--been too busy. Nearly all his several hundred acres of land is under the Fish Lake ditch. He used some water from the ditch the past season and the result was so flattering, notwithstanding the inexperience in its use, that he is preparing to cover every acre he can with water next season. He is right now putting out 1000 Newtown and Spitzenberg apple trees, and will put out a greater number next season. Aside from this orchard venture he is going to experiment quite extensively in the growth of different grasses. He is sowing twelve acres of land to red clover, six acres to alfalfa, three or four acres to muskeet, one acre to alsike and ten acres to red top, and timothy. This land will all be irrigated and he is very sanguine as to the result. He now has growing a few acres of alfalfa which has done remarkably well--proving that this grass can be produced in abundance on sticky soil.
Medford Mail, December 2, 1904, page 1

May Extend Ditch.
    When Messrs. Clark, Belser, Palmtag and Williams, of the Jackson County Improvement Co., were here last week, a directors meeting was had and it was decided to make a proposition to the people of the valley for the extension of the ditch from its present terminus on the company's farm. The proposition, briefly stated, is this: That if the farmers will guarantee 5000 acres of land for irrigation the company will build the ditch to the west side of Bear Creek, crossing the creek near the northern boundary of the city and covering much of the land between here and Central Point. This would bring a large acreage into productiveness, which is now producing little or nothing.
    On the other hand the company, if the proposition is not accepted, intend to cut up their holdings in forty- and eighty-acre tracts and induce people to come in and buy these tracts. This was the intention of the directors when they came up here, but seeing that the country was waking up and upon the verge of a boom concluded to make the first proposition to the people. A committee of citizens will probably be appointed to wait upon the farmers and interest them in the scheme.
Medford Mail, March 31, 1905, page 1

The Peterson Ranch, a Formerly Arid Tract,
Now Producing Good Crops--Water Did It.

    On Saturday of last week a party, composed of Mr. and Mrs. I. L. Hamilton, Mrs. V. T. McCray and a representative of this paper, made a drive to the Peterson ranch, eight miles north and east from Medford. The first three members of the party made the drive for pleasure, but the representative of the Mail made it for the sole and only purpose of seeing things--and he saw.
    The Peterson ranch comprises 700 acres, and a couple or three years ago was purchased by the Jackson County Improvement Company--better known as the Fish Lake Ditch Company. The land until this year has been practically nothing but an arid desert. There were some few spots of land upon it upon which crops could be grown with varied degrees of success. This year Mr. V. T. McCray, engineer and manager for the company, will take 100 tons of grain hay from the land; has now growing 200 acres of wheat and barley which will easily yield thirty bushels to the acre. Then there is an alfalfa field of eighty acres, which is looking fine. This entire 700-acre tract is under the ditch and there are streams of mountain water flowing in all directions over it. There is much of it, however, which has never been cropped and this, of necessity, will have to be leveled to some extent before water can effectually be used--that is the bumps will have to be taken off and scraped into the depressions. The land which the company has in crops this year has been leveled and upon this the putting of water through the ditches was all that was necessary to produce wheat five and six feet high.
    Mr. McCray has planted a number of experimental plats upon what is actual desert land. For instance, near the entrance to the place, there are growing patches of corn--and it is looking fine. This land has been flooded, but in a very crude and unsatisfactory manner, because of the fact that the surface has not been leveled, and the corn is planted only upon the higher places, but the experiment proves beyond a question of doubt that the desert land will produce abundantly when watered. Mr. McCray showed us Early Rose potatoes growing upon this same desert land that were as large as table tumblers. There is also growing other garden stuff. Mr. McCray has also put out, as an experiment, a dozen or more different varieties of grass, and all of those seem to be doing well, but he is of the opinion that Tall Oat grass will prove to be the greatest success because of its rapid growth.
    If any person doubts the good results obtainable from the use of water on this desert land they have only to visit this farm--and be at once convinced, and all doubt dispelled.
    The company is now running in its ditch and several laterals about 1200 inches of water, but this amount can be increased to 5000 inches at any time. Their ditches now extend across the desert to the Lee Watkins place, near the banks of Rogue River. At this time the entire desert is practically under the ditch and many farmers, not only those on the desert, but those along the entire line of the ditch, are using the water--and their crops show the effects of its use.
    In many places this ditch company has made possible the growth of many spears of grain where not only one, but none, grew before. Surely, no person can be longer skeptical us to the benefits resultant from the use of water who has seen what Mr. McCray is doing on this before almost valueless Peterson ranch.
Medford Mail, June 23, 1905, page 1

    Some weeks ago the Mail had an article telling of a scheme by which the Sterling Mining Co. intended to bring water into the valley tor irrigation, power and domestic purposes. It was said that it couldn't be done, that it was a "hot air" proposition and an impossibility. However, the surveys have been made and preliminary estimates as to the cost have been submitted. In a short time it will be up to the farmers and fruit raisers of the central valley us to the amount of encouragement they intend giving the company in this enterprise--not in bonuses or subscriptions, but in patronage after the system is installed. The company is ready and willing to construct this irrigation system if they can secure the patronage to justify it. This is not a philanthropic scheme by any means, it is a cold-blooded business proposition. If sufficient revenue can be secured to justify the construction of the system it will be built. That's all there is to it.
    Fred J. Blakely, the president of the Sterling Mining Co., was in Medford several days this week, consulting with J. D. Heard, the superintendent of the mine, concerning their various properties, for the Sterling is not the only mine controlled by this company, which fact will be found out later. There are to be extensive improvements, and this irrigation scheme is one of those contemplated.
    The ability of the men at the head of this enterprise to carry out their plans is most positively shown by the success Mr. Blakely, the president, has had in other enterprises. In Douglas County, where he has been operating for the past several years, he has inaugurated more dividend-paying enterprises than anyone in that county. He owns the Roseburg Power and Light Co., has constructed a large mill at Winchester and cleared the North Umpqua River from near its source to Winchester so that logs may be floated down it, has diverted the Calapooia so that its waters make a garden spot of a formerly unproductive section of country. Whatever Mr. Blakely tells the people he intends doing he will do. He has never failed yet and does not intend to fail.
    The experience of the past few years has demonstrated to the orchardists the value of water upon their lands. If the productive power of an orchard is increased by irrigation the value of the land is increased in exact ratio. It would be well for our orchardmen to look into this matter thoroughly.
Medford Mail, October 20, 1905, page 1

The Rogue River Valley to Become a Network of Pipe Lines
Conveying Water for Irrigation Purposes

    The Condor Water & Power Company announces its purpose to pump water from the Rogue River for irrigation and other purposes.
    Their big ditch at Prospect is nearly completed, and their dam at that point across Rogue River will be completed November 1st, this year. This gives them a head of water of 600 feet and will develop 100,000 horsepower, the intention of the company being, however, to install units of 10,000 horsepower each as required.
    Work to be rushed and a portion of their pipe line system of irrigation to be in operation next summer.
    Pumping from Rogue River, the cheapest and most practicable way of irrigating in the Rogue River Valley. Water can be conveyed to all elevations cheaply and economically by the cheap and unlimited water power now being developed by the Condor Co.
    Estimated cost of pipe line from the Rogue River to Medford to irrigate 5000 acres is $50,000.
    Contract and rates for water to be very reasonable, based upon the purpose for which the water is to be used, irrigation for alfalfa requiring a great deal more water than that for orchards.
    Ample water assured consumers for all purposes and just when wanted; elevation of lands no drawback, as water can be pumped to any elevation.
    This means the enhancement in value of our hillside farms from ten to one hundredfold. Lands now practically worthless made to produce crops, justifying a valuation of $100 and upwards per acre.
    With water, ten acres, enough for any man to make a comfortable living, who, without water, would starve to death on 160 acres of similar lands without water. This means the cutting up into smaller tracts of our large farms and the quadrupling of the population of the Rogue River Valley within the next few years.
    Far-sighted men buying lands in the Rogue River Valley who will soon reap their reward in large advances. Although lands have had a steady increase in value during the last few years, its advances from now on will be by leaps and bounds.
    The pumping of water for irrigation is not an experiment. It is a demonstrated and proven fact the world over. It is cheaper and more practical than ditches, where cheap water power is so abundant as here. It has been in use in Southern California for years. Water is pumped for irrigation in the Hawaiian Islands to a height of 1000 feet and profitably.
    The Rogue River Valley will soon become the garden spot of the Pacific Coast. With a climate and soil unequaled, all that has been needed is water for irrigation, and that now is ensured. With the enormous increase in population, next will follow a network of electric railroads, bringing to the farmer's door all the conveniences and comforts of the most advanced civilization.
Medford Mail, October 27, 1905, page 1

A Project Now on Foot for Future Development
Irrigation Already Used Extensively in the Valley--
Not Necessary for Good Crops

    Although bountiful crops are raised without the aid of artificial irrigation in Rogue River Valley, the output can be vastly increased by this means. The water for irrigation is abundant and is comparatively easy to get upon the land. No extensive works in the way of reservoirs are necessary in most cases. All that is needful is to tap one of the many mountain streams and carry the water through ditches to where it is wanted. The Table Rock Ditch Co., north of Rogue River, has been furnishing water to its stockholders for many years. The people of Eden precinct have an irrigation system of their own--though comparatively small in extent. In the Applegate Valley the majority of the farmers have private irrigation ditches, the water being taken from the Applegate riven.
    The largest and most comprehensive system now in operation in the valley is that of the Fish Lake Water Co. In the year 1900 this enterprise was first definitely commenced and now the company has a ditch line twenty-five miles in length from the intake on the headwaters of Little Butte Creek to the present end of the ditch on the company's farm a few miles northeast of Medford. This ditch has a capacity of 5,000 miner's inches and is so constructed that its capacity can be increased at any time as the demand for water may require. The waters of Butte Creek are sufficient during most years--up to the latter part of July at least--to fill the ditch, but in order to be sure of having an ample supply, the company has secured from the government the right to make a storage reservoir at Fish Lake. This lake lies at the base of Mt. McLoughlin, one of the snow-capped peaks of the Cascades, and is a mile and a half long by a quarter mile wide, varying in depth from four to eight feet. It is fed by a number of ice-cold springs gushing out of McLoughlin's sides and is the source of the north fork of Little Butte. At its outlet the mountains come close together forming a narrow gorge through which Butte Creek rushes on its way to the valley. At this point precipitous bluffs of solid rock face each other and here the Fish Lake Water Company purposes to erect a mighty dam, which will confine the waters of the lake and raise its surface at least thirty feet above its present level. This will give them an immense storage reservoir two miles long by half a mile wide and thirty feet in depth in the shallow parts. The head of the ditch is some twenty miles from the lake, but no more ditch need be built, as when the water begins to run low, all that will be necessary is to open the gates at the lake and let the water come down through its natural channel to the point of diversion.
    At the present time 50,000 acres of the most productive lands in the valley are covered by this ditch, and work is now going on making an extension of nine miles, crossing Bear Creek just north of the city limits of Medford, and which will cover 10,000 acres more of land, much of which is now non-productive, but which under the revivifying effects of water will produce bounteous yields of fruits, grains and vegetables. The Fish Lake Company is the pioneer public irrigation enterprise in the valley, and its work has resulted in a great deal more interest being taken in irrigation than ever before.
    The Sterling Mining Company, which controls extensive water rights in the Siskiyous, including over twenty-five miles of ditch carrying water to the mines, is considering the matter of using the surplus water in furnishing irrigation for a portion of the valley south and east of Medford. The scheme includes the boring of a tunnel through the divide between the main valley and Sterling, and carrying the water through pipes to the different customers. Already the acreage which the company figured would be necessary in order to make the scheme a feasible and paying one has been subscribed, and more could easily have been secured, only the company wished to be certain as to the amount of water they could furnish before making additional contracts.
    The High Line ditch, which starts from Rogue River at Prospect, fifty miles from Medford, and follows the high ridges north of Rogue River to Gold Hill, is another irrigation enterprise upon which work is being done and from which great things are expected. This canal--for a canal it will be in size when completed--is intended to carry water for irrigation and mining purposes, to be used as a means of transporting lumber from the big forests of the upper Rogue River and the Umpqua divide, and will cover all that portion of the Rogue River Valley lying north of the river from the head of the ditch to Grants Pass, and has the inexhaustible supply of water from the river to depend upon. Dry gulches, rich in gold, which have not been worked for want of water, will yield up their wealth. Mountain and valley farms that have been unproductive, or at most giving a fair crop, will become consistent producers.
    While it is true that some favored portions of the county produce regularly without irrigation, it is nevertheless a fact that irrigation benefits even these. The product is of better quality, more uniform in size, coloring and marketable qualities, especially is this true of fruit, and besides the farmer, fruit grower, or gardener is always sure of a crop if he can supplement nature's offerings with artificial irrigation.
Medford Mail, March 9, 1906, page 13



    After expending $150,0000 in preliminary work and surveys, Fred N. Cummings of this city and his associates have taken up the option they have held since March, 1900, on the Fish Lake Ditch Company and the Jackson County Improvement Company, the title passing to them. The purchase price was $425,000. By the terms of the purchase Mr. Cummings and his associates must expend $150,000 additional on construction work within the next 12 months. When completed the project will represent an expenditure of $2,500,000 and will have placed 55,000 acres in the Rogue River Valley under irrigation, aside from 7000 acres the company plans to reclaim on what is known now as "the desert." The deal is the greatest in the history of Southern Oregon.
    For the past year and a half Mr. Cummings has been indefatigably working on his plans to give the Rogue River Valley a first-class irrigation system. He secured an option on the Fish Lake Ditch Company holdings and then began the task of enlisting capital. In this he was successful. Recently the Rogue River Valley Canal Company, with a capital stock of $1,500,000, was incorporated to carry on the work of the Fish Lake Ditch Company and Roguelands, Inc., with a capital stock of a like amount, to supplant the Jackson County Improvement Company. Both are close corporations.
Comprehensive Survey First Made.
    After securing the option on the Fish Lake Ditch Company, Mr. Cummings began a comprehensive survey of the valley, and in this work expended $30,000. One of the terms of the option was that Mr. Cummings should continue construction work on the system. This was done, and to date no less than $150,000 has been expended.
The Officers of the Company.
    The officers of the new company are: Patrick Welsh of Spokane, president; R. K. Neil, vice-president; F. N. Cummings, sole manager; Irving Worthington, chief engineer, and Porter J. Neff, local attorney. Isham N. Smith of Portland heads the legal department. To Mr. Smith's ability is due much credit for the successful conclusion of the deal.
    Within the next few months the company will have all of that land under what is known as the Hopkins Canal, comprising 2700 acres, under water.
Will Expend $2,500,000 in Valley.
    When Mr. Cummings and his associates have completed their plans they will have expended $2,500,000 and will have placed 55,000 acres of land in the Rogue River Valley under irrigation. To complete this task five years will be necessary, although they expect within two years to have three main conduits completed. When completed, the system will be one of the most comprehensive found in any section of the Northwest and will consist of approximately 350 miles of distributing laterals, aside from the main canal from the intake on Little Butte Creek to the Bradshaw drop, which, when enlarged and completed, will have a capacity of 250 second-feet of water. The undertaking is a gigantic one, and it is the greatest individual undertaking in this section.
Are Now Expending $10,000 a Month.
    The company is now expending about $10,000 a month in construction work and surveys. They are also locating what will be known as their high-line canal, which will follow the foothills around the valley above the 401 ranch, Hillcrest and on south to Talent, from where it will swing around the valley back of the Burrell orchards on to the Jacksonville schoolhouse and on to the foothills west of Central Point. An intermediate canal is also under way. This canal will be between the Hopkins, or low-line, canal and the high-line, and will skirt south and circle in just south of Medford. The Hopkins canal is now being enlarged. From these three main canals innumerable laterals are to be constructed, so that each 40-acre tract in the valley will be placed under water.
To Utilize Horse Power.
    From the Bradshaw drop around to Yankee Creek the company will [be] building a high-line canal. In Yankee Creek they will construct a powerhouse, utilizing the fall which they can attain there to lift water into the high-line canal, which will pass through the Owens gap and hug the foothills until Talent is reached. The acreage which this canal will place under water is shown by the fact that it will pass back of the 401, shoot through over the Hazelrigg divide, across the upper end of the Merrick orchard, pass above Hillcrest, cut across Westerlund and swing around the valley about the north line of the Mountain View orchard, near Talent. This will give an altitude high enough for the canal to pass back of the Burrell orchard and cover that immense tract. This canal, when completed, will run close to the Jacksonville school and from thence on north to Central Point.
Will Reclaim Seven Thousand Acres of Land.
    In addition to the irrigation plans the company will reclaim some 7000 acres of land known as "the desert," which is shown to be productive when water is placed upon it.
    Taken all in all, the undertaking is a gigantic one. Before putting a grading outfit in the field, the company expended nearly $30,000 in making a contour map of the valley showing the elevation of every tract. It is proving the greatest individual enterprise in Southern Oregon and one that will mean much to the valley.
Fish Lake Company Organized in 1900.
    It was in 1900 that the Fish Lake Water Company was organized by Hollister, Cal., people, induced so to do by the report of V. T. McCray, who had, as engineer, filed upon the waters of Fish Lake at the southern base of Mt. McLoughlin. The original members of the company were C. D. Vincent, William Palmtag, J. H. Belser, C. B. Williams (since deceased), Leon and Fred Williams, of Hollister, Cal., I. L. Hamilton and V. T. McCray, M. Purdin and the late Rufus Cox of Medford.
Primary Object of the Company.
    The primary object of the company, which is now being carried out by the new owners, was to bring a canal around the foothills so that any portion of the valley north of Talent might be irrigated. They began work on their canal in 1901 and in 1903 had completed 16 miles of ditch to the Bradshaw drop, from which place, the next year, they offered to deliver free to farmers beneath the ditch all the water needed. At first opposition was met, residents claiming that water was not needed, but since that time orchardists have become more or less educated, and over 60 miles of laterals have been constructed.
    Realizing in 1907 that the demand for water would be much greater in the next few years, Mr. McCray conceived the idea of bringing the waters of Four-Mile Lake, lying on the east side of the Cascade divide. By building a dam of probably 40 feet high across a narrow gorge it was estimated that the water could be carried over a low place in the divide between the two lakes and utilized to increase the water supply for the Rogue River Valley. The proper representations were made and the right to the waters of Four-Mile were assigned by the government to the Fish Lake company, which assures their successors of water in plenty for all time.
    In the passing of the Fish Lake company, a corporation which has done much to develop the valley merges into one which may do even more; still it was necessary for the pioneer to come and "show" those who came afterward.
Statement to Water Users.
    For the benefit of the water users in the valley, Mr. Cummings, manager of the new company, has issued the following statement, which gives in a concise form the purposes of the new company, together with its proposition to the public:
    "To the water users of the Rogue River Valley.
    "The Rogue River Valley Canal Company, a corporation duly incorporated under the laws of the state of Oregon, has completed surveys and plans for the enlargement and extension of the Fish Lake Water Company's canals, which it has acquired.
    "The project when completed will serve all that part of the valley lying between the foothills on both sides of Bear Creek, from Talent on the south to Rogue River on the north--a total area of approximately 55,000 acres.
    "It is the company's intention to diligently prosecute the work of construction already commenced. and to be in a position to meet all demands made for irrigation service at as early a date as possible.
    "Lands lying under the Hopkins canal can be supplied with water for the season of 1911, and the company is now prepared to execute contracts for perpetual water rights on any part of this area.
    "That construction may not be delayed on canal lines yet to be built, the company desires an expression from the land owners of the valley as to their needs for water, and to this end will appreciate applications being made so that requirements for construction may be anticipated.
    "The cost of a perpetual water right will be $50 per acre, payable one-fifth (1/5) in cash, the balance in four (4) annual installments, bearing six percent interest.
    "The annual maintenance charge for water delivery will be $2 per acre, per annum, payable at the company's office on or before January 1st of the year in which service is required.
    "Payments on both water rights and maintenance become due and payable only after actual delivery of water to the land.
"FRED N. CUMMINGS, Manager."
Medford Mail Tribune, July 15, 1910, page 1

Progress in Reclaiming Lands in This State Generally Satisfactory, Says Engineer Cupper.
    Salem, Aug. 21.--The progress made in reclaiming lands included in Oregon projects investigated jointly by the state and United States Reclamation Service, is a matter of considerable satisfaction to State Engineer Percy A. Cupper, who so expresses himself in a report to F. E. Weymouth, chief engineer of the United States Reclamation Service, Denver, Col. These cooperative investigations have been made under a contract entered into between the state and the Secretary of the Interior on May 5, 1913, following the appropriation of $50,000 by the Oregon legislature for the investigation of Oregon projects in connection with the federal government. Projects investigated under this contract include the Deschutes, Ochoco, Malheur, Silver Lake, Silver Creek, Harney Basin, Talent, Medford and Eagle Point projects.
    Funds expended in the investigation and preliminary survey of these projects, it is pointed out, are returned to the state and federal governments by the districts when they are developed, and the funds are in turn used in the investigation of other sections susceptible to reclamation through irrigation. At the present time there is only $1380.63 remaining in the state fund.
    The projects included in the cooperative investigation are described by Cupper in his report as follows:
*    *    *
    "A very preliminary investigation and report were made on the possibility of irrigation in the Rogue River Valley. This investigation resulted in the organization of the Talent Irrigation District, the Medford Irrigation District and the Eagle Point Irrigation District.
    The Talent Irrigation District includes about 11,000 acres and has succeeded in supplying water to 4240 acres this season with the flood waters of Bear Creek and the waters turned over the divide from Little Applegate. A revision of the plans of this district is necessary on account of the failure of the water supply to measure up to expectations, and it is now proposed to construct a reservoir on Emigrant Creek to store the flood waters of this stream and also to turn in the waters of Keene Creek from the Klamath drainage. The district has issued bonds in the amount of $252,000, and it is expected that it will require $500,000 or $600,000 in addition to fully complete the project. The Talent district was in a very fortunate position, in that it could suspend construction work without serious injury to the project when construction and financial conditions became very adverse this season.
    "The Medford Irrigation District originally included some 20,000 acres of land and investigated many sources of water supply. However, it finally turned to Little Butte Creek as the most feasible source, whereupon the project was cut down to approximately 10,000 acres. The Rogue River Valley Canal Company, which has been operating in Rogue River Valley for a number of years, had certain filings on Little Butte Creek, Fish Lake and Four Mile Lake reservoir sites, and it was necessary to deal with this company in this connection. A contract was entered into whereby the Rogue River Valley Canal Company agreed to do the necessary construction work and deliver water to the district for approximately $110 per acre. It is estimated that the total cost to the district will equal $125 or more per acre.
    "This is a rich agricultural section, largely set with fruit, and the water is badly needed to size up the fruit and, thereby, guarantee a crop every year. Preparations are under way for actual construction work and, except for a legal defect in the procedure leading up to the bond issue, work would be under way at the present time.
    "The Eagle Point Irrigation District proposed to secure water from Big Butte Creek, but has not submitted definite plans and the area is uncertain, though it is not expected to exceed 8000 acres."
Oregon Journal, Portland, August 22, 1920, page 15

    The turning of water into the main canal of the Medford Irrigation District today is great news. It marks an epoch in the history of Medford and the Rogue River Valley--final success after over a decade of struggle and discouragement.
    With normal weather from now on, the value of irrigation promises to have dramatic and convincing demonstration. In many districts the soil is now hard and dry. An average rainfall from now on would, without irrigation, mean a loss to orchardists of hundreds of thousands of dollars. For blossoms are now set for the largest pear crop in the history of Southern Oregon. Without irrigation this crop could not, by any possibility, be sized up and brought to successful maturity. With irrigation, it can be.
    Like any other fundamental economic change, irrigation must involve a certain period of readjustment. New methods invariably bring new problems and responsibilities. But such readjustments will be successfully made, and in the not very distant future Medford and the Rogue River Valley will look back upon May 5th, 1922, as the dawn of a new era--the establishment of prosperity for the first time, upon a permanent and steadily growing basis.
Medford Mail Tribune, May 5, 1922, page 4


    A million and a quarter dollar irrigation system for Rogue River Valley, irrigating 10,000 acres in the valley this year and with a ditch covering more than 20,000 acres, has just been put into operation. The storage reservoirs are not yet complete but 4100 acre feet of water is in storage for use this season. A $41,000 dam is to be constructed at Four Mile Lake, a $166,000 dam is 80 percent complete at Fish Lake, a $100,000 connecting canal between the two lakes is to be completed this summer. The 15.8 miles of main canal have been completed at a cost of $150,000, and 45 miles of district main canal have been completed at a cost of $385,000 In addition to a 200-mile system of laterals at a cost of $140,000. The final total storage capacity of the reservoirs now under construction will be 31,300 acre feet. Inestimable improvement in crop yield is predicted for the valley as a result of the full capacity operation of the system. Maximum cost per acre $125. Water turned in May 15, 1922.
Irrigation Started in 1850
    To tell correctly of the benefit of irrigation to the Rogue River Valley one would be compelled to fill volumes. To tell correctly of the fight which preceded the formation of several irrigation districts in the Rogue River Valley would fill more volumes. Suffice it to say that irrigation has been practiced in this vicinity since the '50s and numerous water rights have a priority of 1854.
    Within the next two years the six large irrigation projects in the Rogue River valley will be watering approximately 80,000 acres of land. Adding to this the numerous small projects and the privately owned ditches, the total irrigated area will likely reach 75,000 acres.
    The vast increase in crop yields cannot be estimated at the present time but it is known that it will be of immense proportion. The possibilities of the valley can only be imagined; time alone will tell. With a wonderful climate, and varied soils properly irrigated, it is only a question of time until the anti-irrigationist will cease to exist, and therefore cease to knock.
The Medford District
    The Medford irrigation district canal covers 20,000 acres of land in the heart of the valley. Only 10,000 acres of this land can receive water. 9550 acres have been signed up for water. When the last 150 acres have been signed up completing the 10,000 acres there will be no more water. Time will undoubtedly tell who is right, the landowner with the water or the landowner without.
    Unit number one of the great system comprises Four Mile Lake. This beautiful body of water is about two and one-half miles long by about three-fourths mile wide and lies on the summit of the Cascade Range north and east of Mt. McLoughlin. It is said to have a depth of 200 feet and has been found to be deeper than 120 feet in several places. It is stocked with excellent, gamey trout and if fished properly will easily satisfy the most ardent fisherman's desire.
    The old dam built by V. T. McCray, engineer for the old Fish Lake Ditch Co., is to be torn down and a new dam of earth and rock with a concrete facing will be erected. The dam is to be 25 feet in height and tower, outlet and spillway will be concrete. The calculated storage capacity is 16,300 acre-feet with a 20-foot depth of water above the outlet pipes. The amount set aside for the construction of the new dam is $40,000.
Four Mile Lake Canal
    Unit No. 2 is a connecting canal between Four Mile and Fish lakes. This canal diverts the water from Four Mile Creek about 300 feet below the dam and follows around the mountain to a low saddle on the Cascade Range. At this point the water is dumped into a natural drainage channel on the mountainside from which it is picked up by a canal one-half mile in length which carries it across the summit of the Cascades into a natural channel which leads directly into Fish Lake.
    A portion of this canal was completed in 1910 and about 22 percent in 1920. The canal company expects to complete the canal this summer and is preparing to put a steam shovel on the job. The amount which has been set aside for the construction of this canal is $100,000.
    Fish Lake is unit No. 3. Located at the head of the North Fork of Little Butte Creek and just south of Mt. McLoughlin, Fish Lake is approximately the same length and breadth as Four Mile Lake, and is the second storage reservoir for the system.
Dam 80 Percent Complete
    The dam is now estimated as 80 percent complete and is holding more than 4,100 acre-feet of water for this season's use. As soon as the irrigation season is over the work of completing the dam will be resumed. When completed the dam will be approximately 40 feet high. It is constructed of earth and rock and will have concrete tower, outlet and spillway. The reservoir will have a storage capacity of from 12,000 to 15,000 acre-feet depending on the final height of the dam. Work already done on this dam has amounted to $141,000 and it is estimated that the remaining work will cost about $15,000, making the total cost of the third unit in the neighborhood of $166,000.
Concrete Diversion Dams
    Unit No..4 consists of the main canal which is diverted from Little Butte Creek at the Zundell ranch above Lake Creek. Water from the South Fork of Little Butte Creek is diverted into the main canal through a canal one-half mile in length. The diversion dams are of concrete and are well built. The main canal has a capacity of 175 cubic second-feet from the intake to Bradshaw Drop, a distance of 15.8 miles. All flumes are of metal with concrete transitions and will compare favorably with those of the best projects in the country. At the drop there is a concrete bifurcation where the water is divided between the District canal and the Hopkins canal. The cost of constructing the 15.8 miles of main canal and the one-half mile of auxiliary canal from the South Fork of Little Butte Creek to the main canal was approximately $150,000.
The Main Canal
    Unit No. 5 is the District Main Canal. The district accepts delivery of water from the canal company at Bradshaw Drop. This canal is approximately 45 miles in length ending on the west side of the valley just west of Central Point. Many miles of this canal are built through solid rock. The capacity is 90 cubic feet per second at the intake and is gradually reduced toward the end of the canal. There are numerous cuts, fills, flumes, city pipe lines, crossings and two long siphons, the latter being of creosoted fir 44 and 48 inch diameters with concrete inlets, outlets and footings.
    The cost of this canal, which was first put into use on May 14th of this year, was approximately $385,000.
200 Miles of Laterals
    Unit No. 6 is the distribution system which is composed of a large number of small lateral canals totaling about 200 miles and delivering water to about six hundred different landowners. This system of laterals is exceedingly complicated and the expense of construction has been approximately $140,000.
    The above figures are approximate estimates and the overhead has not been figured in making the estimates, the actual construction cost being the only factor taken into consideration. Canal company officials state that the overhead, such as trucking, payment of office force, etc., will likely add 20 percent to the cost of each unit.
Was a Long, Hard Fight
    The final attainment of irrigation in Jackson County reads like a Horatio Alger story of the rewards of persistence. No hero of a juvenile novel ever suffered more disappointments than the proponents of irrigation in their long fight to get water on the land. Many times the attempt was abandoned only to be resumed when the far-sighted and public-spirited land owners realized that Southern Oregon could never achieve her rightful destiny until insurance against drought was obtained. And the only insurance was to put water on the land.
    Campaign after campaign was put on by the Rogue River Canal Company to secure sufficient acreage for an extension of their system, but they all failed. Finally shortly after the opening of the European war an active campaign was inaugurated to form an irrigation district, and with a few active and aggressive leaders and the aid of the newspapers, the property owners finally voted on September 15, 1917, by an overwhelming majority to form a district, and later also by a large majority the district was bonded for $1,250,000,
    Leonard Carpenter was the first president of the irrigation district and under his direction and active leadership the pioneer work was done with W. A. Folger and E. G. Coleman of Phoenix as capable assistants. Later Mr. Carpenter resigned, his place being taken by J. A. Westerlund, J. A. Perry having been elected president of the district some months before. At the expiration of Mr. Westerlund's term the property owners elected N. S. Bennett, the present board consisting of J. A. Perry, president, E. G. Coleman and Mr. Bennett, directors. E. M. Wilson has acted as secretary, Ralph Cowgill is district engineer succeeding R. W. Rea, and Lincoln McCormack has been attorney for the district.
    To all these men the people owe a great debt of gratitude, for all of them have worked most unselfishly and loyally to give Medford the best irrigation system attainable; they have sacrificed time and money for the good of the district, and the present system will stand as a monument to their good citizenship and devotion.
Medford Mail Tribune, June 9, 1922, page C1

    Although railroad strike news today was not encouraging, J. E. Mulcahy, general freight agent of the Southern Pacific, informed the Mail Tribune that he was certain there would be no tie up on the S.P. lines, and he is confident that there will be no serious trouble on eastern railroads. "There are too many sane heads on both sides of this controversy," said he, "to make a general walkout possible. I look for a settlement in the near future."
    Mr. Mulcahy has been in the valley several days looking over the fruit prospects from a tonnage standpoint, and he is very enthusiastic over the situation. M. Montgomery, local S.P. agent, predicts there will be 1150 cars of pears shipped from the valley this year, compared to 609 shipped last year. This is the largest pear crop ever produced in Jackson County, and the credit for the increase is universally attributed to irrigation established on a comprehensive scale for the first time this year.

Medford Mail Tribune, August 11, 1922, page 1

Last revised June 25, 2022