' ' 15. Deep plowing furnishes a soil reservoir of good depth to store moisture
and summer culture conserves it.
"16. Crops require more moisture to mature them under semi-arid than under
"17. Our field crops rank from the lowest to highest in amount of moisture
required to mature them as follows: Corn, potatoes, wheat, barlej-, field peas, oats,
alfalfa and red clover.
' ' 18. Ten inches of rain furnishes enough moisture to mature more than twice
that number of bushels of wheat per acre.
"19. The amount of rainfall, together with the selection of drouth-resistant
crops, must be considered under any system of soil culture â€” under semi-arid condi-
"20. The total area of land which can be successfully farmed within Colo-
rado's semi-arid belt is yet to be determined.
But there must be a resourceful and painstaking farmer â€” a man who
"mixes brains with the soil" â€” back of any effective system of agriculture.
He is the first and greatest factor among the causes that assure success.
To save expense and loss of time on the part of the new settler upon
Colorado's non-irrigated land, the United States Department of Agricul-
ture has established two demonstration-farms in the eastern part of the
State, wjiere, as I have said, the great body of our semi-arid soil lies. One
is situated adjacent to the town of Akron, and is managed by the Dry
Farming Investigations OfBce; tlie other, which is supervised by the Irri-
gation Investigations Office, adjoins the town of Eads. These farms are
being used to determine what can and what cannot be profitably cultivated,
without artificial irrigation, upon the drier of the lands in that section of
Colorado, and also to develop the most successful system of agriculture
adapted to such farming. Let us trust that with these forces thus co-
operating with the man behind the plow the interests of the settler in
eastern Colorado will be safeguarded, and that he shall speedily find him-
self upon a highway to prosperity. While he may not gain from his acres
a revenue such as that which the farmer of irrigated land receives, he may
be enabled to produce a high percentage of profit on his capital, which
needs be but a moiety of that that the other must invest.
In no division of agriculture (using this term in its broad sense) in
our State has greater advancement been made than in fruit-growing; and,
although some fruit was produced in Colorado in the Territorial period,
tlie present striking development of the industry practically has been
566 HISTOEY OF COLOEADO
accomplished within the last twenty years. While all but a few of our
pioneers of 1859 and "60 were very doubtful as to the worth of the soil in
the Pike's Peak region for continuous cultivation for grain and vegetables,
they were even more incredulous as to its adaptability to fruit-raising.
However, there was one of their number who, in 1860, thought it worth
while to make a trial with fruit trees, as we learn from the following item
of local news that appeared in the issue of a Denver newspaper on May 2d,
of that year :
"We noticed a small parcel of fruit trees unloaded from the express coach a
few days since. They were consigned to S. Howe, and are, no doubt, the first orchard
trees ever brought to this region. ' '
The present writer regrets that he has been tmable to gain any infor-
mation as to the place in which these trees were planted and of the results
of the experiment.
Shortly after the Civil War, fruit-growing began to receive a consider-
able measure of attention in Colorado. While some small fruit, mostly
of the berry family, was produced in the meantime, it was not until the
fore part of the next decade that home-grown tree-fruit began to appear
in the markets of the towns in quantities sufficient to remove it from the
category of novelties.
Prominent among Colorado's fruit-growers in that period was Jesse
Frazier, a pioneer of 1859, and who, in April, 1860, laid claim to and took
possession of a tract of fine land that abutted the Arkansas Eiver in a
locality about eight miles below Caiion City. In after j-ears he turned
his attention to tree-borne fruit, and at length found himself in possession
of the finest and most valuable orchard in the Territory. The neighbor-
hood continues to this day to be a highly productive fruit district.
A substantial and encouraging beginning having been made, the fur-
ther development of fruit-growing was continued by an increasing number
of land-owners. Yet these efforts were beset by difficulties due to various
causes arising from the lack of experience and also from faulty judgment,
and which entailed frequent disappointments and failures. However, the
work was prosecuted without intermission by men of strong faith and will ;
and each succeeding year brought them better and better results. But the
home-production of a full supply of fruit for Colorado still was to be an
event of the future. Concerning this and other conditions in times near
the end of the decade of the '80s, General Frank Hall, writing in the year
"Though the people of the State are now, and for yearsâ€” indeed, ever since tlie
completion of the Union Pacific Railway â€” have been largely dependent upon Salt Lake
City and California for their supplies of domestic fruits, the progress made and
making by our own horticulturists, will, in the procession of the cycles, render us
comparatively independent of foreign sources, in the matter of apples, grapes, pears
and plums. The quality of the fruits raised here is equal to the best produced else-
where, and while we may forever lack some of the varieties which are so lavishly
furnished by our neighbors of the Pacific slope, and by the well-matured orchards of
southern Kansas, there is reason to hope that we may be able to reduce the annual
outflow of money for these staples when the industry shall have been further
developed. ' '
At the time the foregoing quotation was written nearly all the fruit
produced in the State was grown in that part of Colorado which lies at and
near the eastern base of the mountains. Horticulture upou the Western
HISTORY OF COLORADO 567
Slope then was in its infancy, and there were but few men in the State
who anticipated that it ever would outgrow the needs of the local markets
and those of mining towns within short and easy reach. The possibilities
of fruit-culture in the Western Slope section became more evident in the
iirst half of the next decade, since which period the great development of
the industry and the consequent prosperous conditions in western Colorado
have come to pass.
While peaches and the smaller of tree-fruits are grown in great abun-
dance, the principal fruit crop of the Western Slope is that of apples,
which are produced in vast quantities, and are of excellent quality and
bring the highest market prices, which likewise is the case with all its
other orchard products. The yield of these orchards, together with that of
those in other parts of the State, now supply not only the home demand,
but provides a large surplus that is sent to distant markets. Colorado
fruit now is familiar to and favored by thousands of consumers in the
eastern States, as well as by other thousands in Utah, Nevada, and Cali-
fornia. The southern part of the last-named State aifords an eager market
for many car-loads of Western Slope apples every year.
The remarkable profits realized by the fruit-growers in western Colo-
rado have caused the values of all lands in their section of the State, that
are adapted to the purposes of orchards, to advance by leaps and bounds;
and. as I have already remarked, producing land in the Palisades district
recently sold at the record-breaking price of $4,000 per acre. Yet, even
with the soaring valuations and consequent greater investment of capital,
lavish prosperity attends the industry. With but few exceptions, the title
to the orchard-farms is vested in those who occupy and conduct them.
Many of these went more or less into debt for their land; but the fore-
closure of a mortgage has been a rare event.
During the season of picking and packing the fruit, much assistance
is hired. Most of the picking is done by transient laborers, who flock in
at the beginning of the season. But nearly all the packing is the handi-
craft of resident women and girls, who receive good pay for their services.
The routine work of the orchard-farms usually is done by their owners,
with occasional help hired by the week or month.
In former times the marketing of the fruit was done independently
and in rather a hit-or-miss fashion by its growers, not many of whom
attempted to ship it to any great distance, but depended largely on the
town-communities of the State for its consumption. But in recent years
the distribution and sale of the great bulk of the Colorado fruit crop has
been in the hands of associations, the membership of which consists of
fruit-producers. These organizations are corporations, their stock being
owned by fruit-growers; and their object is not only to market the crop
with greater ease, in wholesale quantities, and to better financial advan-
tage, but also to furnish general supplies to their members at a price lower
than that which these otherwise would have to pay. After deducting a
small commission to cover the expense of warehousing, freight, and inci-
dentals, the remainder of the proceeds of the crop is paid to the growers.
As the fruit is required to be graded carefully, according to quality and
size, and attractively packed in neat boxes, tliese as'sociations have estab-
lished a high and far-reaching reputation for the products of Colorado
668 HISTORY OF COLORADO
The Colorado farmer has been and continues to be a winner of pre-
miums at gTeat expositions, as well as at State and district fairs, for the
Eiiperior quality of his products of the soil. At the Columbian Exposition,
at Chicago, in the year 1893, eighty-one of the 371 Colorado exhibits were
awarded special premiums. Although the United States Department of
Agriculture does not, because of the comparatively small area that we
devote to wheat, class our State as one of the "Wheat States" of the Union,
the Colorado exhibits of this grain at the Columbian Exposition surpassed
those of any other State, and won twenty-five medals. At the Louisiana
Purchase Exposition, at St. Louis, in 1904, our farmers received three
grand prizes, nineteen gojd medals, and 282 other awards, for orchard and
apiary products; and for grain, forage-plants, potatoes and other vegetables,
they were given four grand prizes, eighty-four gold medals, and 285 silver
and bronze medals. Of the 767 prizes won by Colorado exhibits at that
exposition, 626 were awarded to agriculturists of our State. At the Lewis
and Clark Exposition, at Portland, Oregon, in 1905, Colorado displays of
fruit, grain, forage, and vegetables, were accorded 248 gold medals, 145
of silver, and sixty-nine of bronze, beside fortv'-four special awards â€” a
total of 506 out of the 811 premiums that were awarded to the whole of
the agricultural exhibits that were entered at that exposition.
These successes and those that have been achieved at minor exhibitions
of the results of agriculture have spurred the Colorado fanner still further
to enhance the quality and increase the quantity of his direct and indirect
products of the soil. He will not be content until he has made his grain,
forage, vegetables, and fruit, his beef and dairy cattle, his horses, hogs,
sheep and lambs, the best and most profitable that experience and close
attention can enable men to accomplish. For all that he has to sell he has
a cash market which is very largely his own.
While we have in our State a variety of gainful occupations, the eco-
nomic relations of each of these to all the others is close; and we rejoice
in this interdependency of the farmer, miner, ranchman, capitalist, manu-
facturer and merchant, each of whom derives support from and gives
strength to the rest, and thus maintaining a community of interests that
cooperates for the general welfare of our Commonwealth.
IKRIGATIOX. â€” ANTIQUITY OF THE PRACTICE. â€” lEEIGATED AGEICULTURE BY
THE CLIFF DWELLERS. â€” EARLY IRRIGATING DITCHES IN NEW MEXICO.
BEGINNING OF THEIR USE UPON COLORADO SOIL. â€” DITCH-CONSTRUC-
TION BY OUR AMERICAN PIONEERS. THEIR DEVELOPMENT OF THE
MEANS OF WATERING ARID LAND DURING THE TERRITORIAL PERIOD. â€”
THEIR FIRST DITCHES OF GREAT LENGTH. â€” GOVERNOR ELBERT's IRRI-
gation congress. â€” president grant's vast project for irrigation.
extravagant estimates of the supply of water available for
reclamation purposes. â€” the greeley colonl^'s main ditches.
other constructions in northern colorado in the decade of
the seventies. present great water-systems for reclaiming
land in that quarter of the state. â€” the district-irrigation law
and its effects. â€” modern irrigation systems in the arkansas
valley, in colorado. work of the builders of reservoirs and
canals in the san luis valley. â€” development of irrigation
upon the western slope. operations in the uncompahgre val-
ley. the gunnison tunnel project. irrigating canals in the
valley of the grand river. â€” reclamation in the montezuma
valley and other parts of southwestern colorado. possibili-
ties of irrigation in routt and rio blanco counties. â€” construc-
tion work now in progress in that section of the state.
colorado legislation on the subject of irrigation. â€” develop-
ment of an independent system of laws and customs. â€” statu-
tory regulation of the distribution of water. division of the
state into water-districts. â€” areas of these districts. future
of irrigation in colorado. value of the state's agricultural
products. operations of the federal reclamation service.
By Frank C. CtOUDy, of the Colorado Bar.
The process of rendering naturally arid land productive by artificial
means of supplying it with water, usually by ditches into which is diverted
more or less of the flow of a stream traversing the district, but sometimes
by other though less eilective contrivances, is of prehistoric origin. Such
expedients for converting dry and barren ground into fruitful fields were
well developed in Egjpt some six thousand years ago, and are known to
have been in use in Babylonia in times almost as remote. In each of these
countries, the practice of irrigation had become the subject of legislation
in a very early era. We may read provisions of Egyptian rules and regu-
lations that governed it in a period between which and ours stretches
nearly sixty centuries, and even yet without the impress of innovation. We
may also read Babylonian laws of like tenor that were in force in the
forty-second century back of the present. Yet these were not then new,
but were legal promulgations that appear long to have been familiar to
the inhabitants of the valleys of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.
The processes of irrigation are not modern even in the territory of our
own country. They were employed by the people upon whom we have
bestowed the name of "Cliff Dwellers,'' who constructed the great and
numerous community-habitations that now exist in a ruined condition in
southwestern Colorado and in adjacent large areas of Xew Mexico, Arizona,
570 HISTOEY OF COLORADO
and Utah. In the vicinity of many of these tlie remains of ancient irri-
gating ditches, which, beyond all doubt, were the work of these tribes of
builders, still may be seen and the courses of the channels traced. As no
one has any knowledge whatever of the length of time that has elapsed
since these people began their occupation of the Southwest, we have no
substantial basis upon which to found an estimate of the antiquity of
their initiation of irrigation. It is plainly apparent that the aggregate of
their numbers in some localities would have been represented by figures
running well into the thousands, and that the cliase could have yielded
only a minor portion of the food they consumed. Therefore, agriculture
must have been their main dependence for sustenance. But it is also
apparent that the soil of the localities in which these larger communities
dwelt in neighborship could not now be made by people in the barbarous
stage of culture to afford such means of living for more than a moderate
moiety of a population of such magnitude.
There is eminent scientific authority for the assumption that the cli-
mate of the cuff Dwellers' country underwent a great change during the
era in which they occupied it, and that the consequences thereof eventually
caused them to abandon their capacious communit3'-houses and to migrate
into some more favorable region. But as changes of climate are exceed-
ingly slow, requiring, so far as human knowledge goes, ages for the evolu-
tion of any marked modification, this theory throws open a wide field for
conjecture as to the antiquity of the use of inigation by these people.
When the first of the Spanish pioneers of what are now our Territories
of Arizona and New Mexico entered that part of the Southwest, not far
from four hundred years ago, the Pueblo Indians, some of whom possibly
may have been descendants of the Cliff Dwellers, were cultivating irrigated
patches of land near their dreary homes, and of which the produce appears
to have formed their principal supply of food.
The Spanish settlers of New Mexico resorted to irrigation at the time
in which they established permanent communities in the Eio Grande
Valley, and which ever since has been in constant use in various localities
along the course of that river within the present boundaries of that Terri-
tory. While these pioneers had before them the small examples of the
Pueblo Indians, it is not unlikely that they had brought with them from
Old Mexico some knowledge of a practice of watering arid land by means
of ditches, which were obvious methods of accomplishing such a purpose.
By the close of the eighteenth century, the Mexican people then dwelling
in the valley of the Eio Grande, between Santa Fe and El Paso, had devel-
oped local systems of irrigating ditches. Lieutenant Zebulon M. Pike,
when he was being escorted as a semiprisoner from Santa Fe to Chihuahua,
in the month of March, 1807, noticed and noted some of these. In his
Journal of a Tour Through the Inteiior Provinces of New Spain, he says,
under the date of ilarch 7th :
' ' Both above and below Albuquerque the citizens were beginning to open the
canals, to let in the water of the river to fertilize the plains and fields which border
its banks on both sides: we saw men, women, and children of all ages and both sexes,
at the joyful labor, which was to crown with rich abundance their future harvest,
and ensure them plenty for the ensuing year. These scenes brought to my recollection
the bright descriptions given by Savary, of the opening of the canals of Egypt.
The cultivation of the fields was now commencing, and everything appeared to give
life and gaietv to the surrounding scenery."
HISTORY OF COLORADO ^?1
There seems to be no means of determining when and by whom irri-
gation first was practiced on Colorado soil in modern times. It is probable
that something of the kind was done at the early trading-posts that were
built on onr part of the Arkansas River between the years 1835 and 1840 ;
but if so, it must have been limited to the watering of small garden-
patches. There also may have been, prior to 1840, some cultivation of the
soil by irrigation at the trading-posts of Fort Lupton (erected in 1837)
and Fort St. Vrain (1838), on the South Platte River, in what now is the
southwestern section of our Weld County. We learn from Fremont that
the proprietor of Fort Lupton was a planter in a small way in 1843; and
it is likely that the land then tilled at that post was under irrigation.
It is known that for several years before the war between the United
States and Mexico some citizens of New Mexico were engaged in irrigated
agriculture, though not upon a large scale, on the Arkansas River, in what
now is Pueblo County and the eastern border of Fremont County, as well
as upon some of the right-hand tributaries of the Arkansas in that district ;
but to the greater extent at and in the near neighborhood of the site of our
city of Pueblo, where the historic trading-post that was called "the Pueblo,"
and which was the successor to one or two lesser and less famous estab-
lishments of the same sort that already had had their day in that locality,
was built in 1842. The ditches used for irrigation by these pioneer tillers
of the soil in our section of the Arkansas Valley were simple affairs, made
with such engineering skill as that which was possessed by those whose
purposes they served. The existence of traces of several ditches that had
been constructed and used by the earlier of these Mexican agriculturists
gave rise to a belief among some of the American pioneers of Colorado
that they were the work of a "prehistoric" people, who at some time in the
far past had occupied that part of our State.
An attempt was made about the middle of the decade of the '40s to
found a Mexican settlement in the lower section of Colorado's portion of
the Rio Grande Valley, but which was defeated by the hostility of the
Ute Indians, who did not approve white occupation of the southern border
of their dominion. These colonists may have made a beginning of means
of irrigating their land, but it apjDears that they did not remain on the
ground long enough to have put them into considerable practical use.
John Hatcher, who claimed to have been the first American settler
in that district of Colorado which forms our present county of Las Animas,
is said to have located upon bottom laud that lies on the Purgatoire River,
about eighteen miles northeasterly of the city of Trinidad, shortly before
the Mexican War, and there to have constructed, in 1846, an irrigating
ditch of between one and two miles in length to water his land. It is
further said that in that year he planted and cultivated a crop of corn on
a tract containing some forty acres, but which at its maturity was destroyed
by Indians, who drove Hatcher from his primitive farm and made his
return to it too hazardous for him to attempt.
Xear the close of that decade, Charles Autubeas, an old froutierman
and trapper in the West, and who was of French extraction, "settled down"
on the Huerfano River, at its confluence with the Arkansas, and there
engaged in agriculture, which doiabtless was under irrigation, as it would
otherwise have been impracticable in that part of the Arkansas Valley.
Within the next two years he was Joined by a number of Mexican pioneers
Si? HISTORY OF COLOEADO
sufficient to form a small colony. Fremont, in his Memoirs, tells that he
halted at Autobeas' settlement when outward bound on his iifth explora-
tion of the Far West, in 1853; and from what he says the inference is
that the little community then was in an inviting condition. According
to a statement made iii General E. B. Marcy's Armi/ Life on the Border.
Autobeas was "living upon the Arkansas"' as late as the spring of 185S;
but it appears that his fellow-settlers had dispersed before that time, prob-
ably because of Indian objections to their presence.
When, in 1853, Captain John W. Gunnison, of the United States
Army, was making his survey of a central route for a railroad from the
Mississippi Eiver to the Pacific Coast, he found a community consisting
of several Mexican families situated high up on the Huerfano Eiver and
living in comfort. These people, beside possessing livestock, were irri-
gating and cultivating the soil in the locality of their hamlet. I do not
know of any further record of this diminutive colony, which seems to have
disappeared prior to the American settlement of the Colorado country.
In the year 1852, when the United States military post, Fort Massa-
chusetts, the first establishment of the kind within the area of our State,
was constructed, near the western end of the Sangre de Cristo Pass, and
which gave protection against depredations by the Ute Indians, a small
number of Mexicans, who are also mentioned by Gunnison, settled in the
neighborhood of the fort, where they employed themselves in stock-raising
and some irrigated agriculture. When Fort Massachusetts was superseded
by Fort Garland, built in 1858, a few miles farther down the slope, other
Mexicans of like pursuits settled in that section of the Rio Grande Valley.
In 1851 or early in 1852 some Mexicans settled in the lower part of the