Okanogan irrigation project is the first in Washington
April 5, 1907
The first reclamation project to be attempted in the State of Washington is the Okanogan, or Pogue Prairie, project which will irrigate some 10,000 acres of land lying immediately north and west of the town of Okanogan. The work is now well under way and it is quite apparent that it will be entirely completed before the snow flies next fall. For many years past the consummation of this event has been the dream of the old inhabitants of this section, and it is with a great amount of satisfaction that they now look upon the realization of this dream as an actual fact. In the summer of 1900 the citizens of the vicinity of Alma, now Okanogan, organized the Okanogan Improvement Club and appointed a committee to draft a petition to the federal government, asking that the territory known as Pogue Prairie be investigated as to its feasibility as an irrigation project.
Apparently little attention was paid to the efforts of the settlers for some time as it was not until three years after their first action that a government agent was put to work in the field. In 1903 Mr. Noble, of the reclamation service, was put to work in the field. In 1903 Mr. Noble of the reclamation service was sent to investigate. Following his report surveyors were sent to make a topographical map. They also made a survey of the proposition with Brown Lake as a storage reservoir. This included a tunnel of one and one-half miles through solid rock and owing to the excessive cost of such an undertaking, the project was abandoned by the reclamation service.
It looked for a while as though there would be a rapid evacuation of the many claim shanties that had sprung up all over the vast flat when the irrigation proposition was first favorably considered by the government, but the indomitable spirit of the Pogue flatters prevailed, and what seemed almost a hopeless fight was begun. The people took the matter up and had a private survey made. They demonstrated that the project was feasible and secured a reconsideration. Christian Anderson, the present engineer in charge, arrived here May 8, 1905, and began investigating the matter, putting a corps of surveyors in the field. As a result of his work it was determined to make a storage reservoir of the Conconully basin and use the creek bottom to convey the water to a point some six miles above Dr. Pogue's place where the main canal of the system commences, thus doing away with all tunnel work and reducing the cost to a minimum.
Last September contracts for the clearing of the reservoir site and the construction of the main canal and the high and low line ditches were let. Chas. Herriman of Conconully was awarded the work of clearing the reservoir site and the canal work was divided up among J.A. Barker, John Douglas and F.W. Rosenfelt. The brush and trees on the reservoir site have been slashed and will be burned the coming summer. On the main canal, which is six miles in length, work was commenced last fall and it is highly probable that it will be completed within thirty days. There are in the neighborhood of 200 men and 75 teams on the work at the present time. On the high and low line ditches are Barker, Rosenfelt, Peterson Bos. and Bert Jones. This work includes the building of about twenty miles of ditches across Pogue and Robinson flats, running within about three miles of Riverside. The contractors have until August 1st in which to do the work, but it is likely they will get through a month earlier than that date.
The engineers commenced this week surveying for the lateral ditches and it is thought that bids for their construction will be received some time in the near future. There will be 38 miles of these ditches which are to be completed before next winter. They will be the small distributors which will carry water to the 10,000 acres of land included in the project.
It is hard to realize the wonderful change wrought in the section under the project since irrigation has been assured. Land which a few years ago was thought utterly worthless is now selling at from $100 to $150 per acre.
Nov. 8, 1907
F.R. Hendricks, one of the contractors on the ditch at the reclamation headquarters, was in town yesterday and states that his portion of the work is nearly done. He says the work on the main irrigation ditch will be practically finished inside of a week and the laterals, with one or two exceptions, will be finished by December first.
Nov. 30, 1907
H.J. Colman of Omak informed us confidentially, at the Thanksgiving ball, that they were tearing down Riverside and totally moving it to Omak. Might just as well keep on down the river to Okanogan, boys.
Dec. 7, 1907
Minutes of the Commercial Club included this: Moved and carried that the secretary be instructed to hire a man to move the stones from the road leading from Pogue flat into the city.