ONEof the most far reaching but little known works of the United States is that of the reclamation by irrigation of arid lands. These lands form about a third of the total area of the United States and although only < small proportion can be irrigated, yet the farms and homes which may be created have such great value as to become a notable addition to the wealth of the nation. It is not, however, the object merely to reclaim these lands and to add them to the productive capacity of the nation. Far beyond this is the higher object to be attained, that of rendering these areas capable of furnishing homes for thousands of citizens. The lands are not irrigated that they may add to the wealth of a few, but when reclaimed they are subdivided in tracts each sufficient for the support of a family, and are disposed of to persons who will live upon the land for five years, cultivate it and become self-supporting citizens and taxpayers. The public lands thus reclaimed are not sold but are given away to actual. homesteaders. The cost of the reclamation, however, must be returned in ten annual instaments. Thus, for example, if it has cost $30 an acre to bring the water to a given tract, and it is found that 40 acres is adequate for the support of a family, an individual is allowed to file upon this 40"acre tract; title is obtained after five years; residence and cultivation and payment to the government of the cost of reclamation, which in this case is $1,200, in annual payments of $120 each. He obtains an opportunity of acquiring a home and a piece of land which rapidly increases in value, because of the fact that as other people flock in and take up the adjacent lands, a relatively dense population is established, tOWIIH grow up, and there is an increment Cf value beyond the result of his own efforts-for these lands ultimately are worth $100 or more per acre. There has already been invested about $60,000,000 in this work, and this investment is being increased at the rate of approximately $1.000,000 a month. This money is not being paid directly by the tax-payers, as it is not” derived from domestic or foreign imports, but from the disposal of public lands. The moneys thus obtained “"ar( credited to a fund in the treasury, placed at ·the disposal of the Secretary of the Interior, and expended through what is known as the Reclamation Service, an organization composed of engineers with necessary technical and clerical assistants. The law authordzing this work, known as the Newlands Act, from Senator Francis G. Newlands of Nevada, was passed on June 17th, 1902. It is verv general in character, calling for certain results and laying down a few broad lines to be followed. All of the intricate detail had to be worked out. It was as though a great business enterprise had been authorized wHhout indicating dimensions, character of structure, or any facts, excepting that certain funds of unlmown amounts were to be expended to accomplish results in localities widely separated. The location of the works, for the most part in regions remote and without adequate transportation facilities, the magnitude and complex character of the engineering features and t'e dlifculties encountered in adjusting the diverse interests of private owners, furnished innumerable problems, the solution of which required a vast aWQunt of investigation and -study. The first thing after the passage of the act was to get the engineers. The natural thing to do was to continue in the work the men who had been stUdying the subject for many years, and then to select a few localities and begin the work. There were demands from all parts of the arid West that work should be undertaken at once, and the people were inclined to chafe at any delay in the beginning of actual construction_ It was difficult to make them understand the need of preliminary study and investigation, they wanted to see the dirt flying and the big dams rising in the canyons. It was known as the result of previous investigations that several projects undoubtedly were feasible, and that certain large structures must be built in connecNon therewith. Work was, therefore, begun on some of these befaTe all the plans could be elaborated. Those matters upon which there could be little question were at once entered upon, the connected details and plans for additional structures being worked out while building progressed. The result is that a large amount of work has been accomplished in a short time and a reputation established for prompt execution, as against the idea that “government officials could not move expeditiously." At the same time, every effort has been made to preserve accurate records of the cost of ihe work and to study all of the economies which were practicable under existing laws and regulations. Oash discounts were sought, as well as wholesale rates. Transportation of material was secured at the lowest obtainable terms, and the operations put upon a business basis. What thl3 means can never be appreciated by a man who has not worked for the government, and who has not run against the innumerable complications growing out of a century of corrective legislation and executive requirements. Transacting government business on business principles is like trying to drive di-'rectly across a settled valley, which is fenced in every direction by barbed wire. The old inhabitant knows the highways and byways, the gates and the openings, and can go across the country with considerable speed, but the newcomer, who does not know these, is constantly getting entangled in wire fences and in controversy with the people and is forced to back out and finally go by the most roundabout road. The Reclamation Service has been particularly fortunate in its ability to traverse rapidly and effectively the entanglements of legal obstacles, discovering the openings ,and short cuts which expedite work. Acting under a very general law in which results only are called for, It has been possible to avoid many of the embarrassments of the more elaborate enactments, of Congress, where the attempt has been made to describe in advance all sorts of remedies for every kind of emergency. Nevertheless, there are enough general laws and re,” ulations to necessitate the greatest skill and care in making expenditures without getting one's self into continual trouble. One of the methods adopted by the Reclamation Service for avoiding delay has been to have the disbursing of funds placed in the hands of a considerable number of bonded agents. These men are of the bank-clerk type lnd draw moderate salaries. The fo)ce of August 12, 1911 SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN 146 disbursing officer3 is large enough so that if the accounts of one are suspended on technicalities, another man can take charge, while the first devotes his time to satisfying requirements of the Treasury officials, thus avoiding delays. The business methods have been the subject of continued study and examination by experts and have been so perfected as to serve as a model for various contracting, or other corporations, which have practically adopted the general scheme of cost-keeping, modifying the details to suit private conditions. It is recognized, of course, that the government bureau cannot work as economically in some ways as a private corporation, because it is loaded with requirements of advertising for competition in all purchases, of elaborate preparation of all papers having to do with disbursements, with the attaching of numerous signatures, growing out of various laws, with almost innumerable restrictions imposed from time to time to meet special conditions and also others which were never anticipated when the regulations were drawn. Nevertheless, experience has shown that it is possible to prosecute business with reasonable economy and speed. As proof of this it may be stated that already nearly a million acres of lands have been furnished with water, and about 14.000 families are on these lands. These beneficiaries of the law are beginning to pay back into the Treasury their pro rata share of the cost of the work. The results attained are an example of what may be accomplished in the practical carrying out of the conservation ideas, so ably presented by The(-dore Roosevelt and Giff(rd Pinchot. In fact, the reclamation work may be considered as part of the great programme of national conservation, being joined with the protection and use of the forests, the saving of the water powers, and other natural resources and monopolies for the people. The outcome shows that it is possible for the National Government, through skill and competent officers, to grasp these .great opportunities and to develop for the common good the resources, which, up to the present time, have been turned over to the great corporations. on the ground that it is impossible for the people to help themselves through a popular form of government. In earrying out the objects of the Reclamation Ad, and . embodying the ideas therein containcd in feasible structures,, there .have . already. been built reservoirs for conserving the waste waters and having a capacity sueh as would ('over four and one-half million acres with water one foot in depth. To distribute this water to the lana, or take it from various strealIs, there have been constructed nearly 350 miles of canals of large size, that is to say, carrying over 800 cubic feet per second, while in smaller canals or distributaries, there are several thousand miles. The tunnels by which the water is carried under mountain masses or through obstaeles aggregate in number nearly 70, with a total length of 100,000 feet. There are literally thousands of smaller structures, such as gates, turnouts, flumes, and bridges, each of which has required more or less engineering skill and forethought. The material excavated in building the canal system has aggregated 60 million cubic yards of earth, and nearly 5,000,000 yard:, each of loose rock and of solid rock. In building the dams and other structures. there have been used over a million barrels of cement. These figures will give some idea of the gross magnitude of the work; but to the men interested in scientific or engineering facts, they are less instructive than a few details concerning some of the more interesting or typicsl Gf the works now built. The results accomplished, however, are far more important than those which can be shown in figures of quantity, size, or cost. They relate to those higher and larger objects of life which rank above mere material prosperity, in that they contribute to the development of a citizenship, of far greater importance to the nation than the possession of wealth. The object of the Reclamation Act, while directed imme(iately toward the construction and maintenance of irrigation works is reaIly more far reaching; for these works are the foundation for homes for its citizens and their use is conditional UpOll the ownership of the reclaimed latnds in small tracts sufficient for the support of a family. This means that there can be no land monopoly. Each farmer or bene.fciary of this law can obtain land or water sufficient only for his own use. He must be one of a group of independent landowners living in relatively thickly settled communities, where success is attained through intensive cultivation, and where there thus results the ability to enjoy the comforts or even luxuries which are incident to a carefully cultivated, densely populated, or suburban locality. The man who has been a mechanic or has pursued some trade in the city or has wandered about tbe face of the- earth is offered an opportunity to secure for himself a home, with reasonable expectation of competence in his old age. He must endure at first the privations of pioneering, and must have energy and use good jud:-ment; but there is no occupation in which a more substantial reward will come for efforts intelligently expende,l. From the standpoint of the commonwealth, the gain is great in transforming the indifferent citizen, who has been living in an apartment or wande.ing about from place to place, into a settled, taxpaying voter, interested in everything which concerns the locality, the county, the State, and the nation. Salt River project, Arizona. Roosevelt dar, upstream. Salt River project. Boating on lake formed by Rllseyelt dam. RECLAMATION AND HOME-MAKING
This article was originally published with the title "Reclamation and Home-making"