Page images



ing settler will be required to go there and live, and to pay at the rate of twenty-six dollars an acre for the water supply. This demand he must liquidate in ten annual instalments; and not until the end of the tenth year will he receive from the Government a patent of ownership

—that is to say, a clear title-deed to the property—the object of the law governing such matters being to provide for bona fide home-makers and to shut out speculators.

Not for a quarter of a century has such an opportunity offered itself. For, although there are in various parts of the United States immense areas of unoccupied public lands, they are mostly undesirable for one reason or another—usually for lack of water. Eventuallyprobably within the next fifty years, about 60,000,000 acres of now arid territory will be made available for settlement by irrigation works which the Government is starting in to construct; but this is only a small fraction of the total lands at present untenanted, unfarmed, and unutilized for any purpose whatsoever.

The free lands open to settlement as

late as last year, were enumerated by the government Land Office as follows: Alabama ...

183,480 acres
Alaska ..............368,035,975 "
Arizona ....... .... 47,082,321 “
Arkansas .....
California ....

Colorado ....

30,110,586 " Florida

1,121,173 Idaho ........

33,485,389 Kansas .......

942,483 Louisiana ........

156,390 Michigan .........

323,947 Minnesota

2,822,838 Mississippi

60,440 “ Missouri .....

149,039 Montana ..... 55,748,400 " Nebraska ......

4,481,958 “ Nevada ......

61,226,774 New Mexico

52,095,312 " North Dakota

7,050,306 " Oklahoma ...

1983,249" Oregon ........ 20,180,261 South Dakota ... 9,932,113

38,847,341" Washington .......... 0,300,

.... 8,566,563 “ Wisconsin .......

51.149 Wyoming ...........

..... 37,623,329 Total ............817,527,157 acres In addition to this enormous area, there were 183,717,208 acres of public lands reserved from settlement for the

Utah ......


SELECTED SITE OF GREAT SHOSHONE DAM IN NORTHERN WYOMING. An immense artificial lake is to be created by putting a dam across the opening seen in middle of picture,


LOST RIVER, IN SOUTHERN OREGON. This remarkable stream meanders for sixty miles as if it did not know which way to flow.' by the Reclamation Service, which to-day has on hand for the purpose $34,000,000, thanks to the liberality of Congress, and which, notwithstanding the great rate of current expenditure, will have in June, 1908, $41,500,000. Twenty-two "projects” have been begun, and contracts already let involve the spending of $25,000,000; in addition to which plans that will cost $15,000,000 more are contemplated for the imme

diate future. APACHE LABORERS AT Roosevelt Dam SITE, ARIZONA.

For example, take the

so-called North Platte time being by the Government. Most of project, the object of which is the storthis territory will eventually be thrown age of the flood and surplus waters open.

of the North Platte river by a dam 210 It is impossible to state what kinds of feet high, built across a narrow canyon. lands these are which are above enumer- During the dry season the water thus ated, because the Government possesses conserved will be turned into canals, and no such data. Furthermore, it is not the distributed over an area of hundreds of policy of the Land Office to give out in- thousands of acres in Nebraska and Wyformation about the character of soil, oming. climate, water, or timber.

This project is now finished, and apAt the present time, however, the Gov- plication for land should be addressed ernment is engaged in carrying out a to the Land Office at Cheyenne, Wyo., or number of gigantic irrigation projects, at Sidney, Neb. Information about soil the object of which is to make available and climate, with other details, will be for settlement vast areas of arid lands in furnished to anybody who wants it, by the various parts of the West. These lands are among the richest in all the world, and only need a water supply in order to produce crops such as are undreamed of in the East. One of the enterprises in question, by tapping Lake Tahoe, has. rendered suitable for farming purposes the immense tract already referred to, in north-central Nevada.

It is these irrigable lands that now afford a really attractive invitation to home - makers. Immense areas of them are being made available WIVES OF APACHE INDIAN LABORERS AT SITE OF Roosevelt Dam, ARIZONA,


means of a canal thirtyone miles long and carrying it over bodily into another valley—that of the Carson river. This is in its way the most remarkable engineering achievement ever known. It will cost nine millions of dollars, which the settlers will pay by handing over to Uncle Sam $2.60 for each acre of land every year for ten years.

These are not charitable enterprises in which the Government is engaged. Uncle Sam pays the entire cost of irrigation projects, to start with; and the money

paid back to him, as fast as it comes in, will be used to liquidate the expense of further operations in the same line. As soon as he turns the water on, he begins to get returns; and already he is beginning to recover some of his money, the first payments being made this autumn.

It is understood, then, that the Gov



North Platte Valley Water Users' Association.

In Nevada, the wonderful TruckeeCarson project, which will irrigate 350,000 acres of arid territory in the western part of that State, is already approaching completion. It has involved the taking of the Truckee river out of its bed by




[graphic][merged small]

ernment gives the land, and the settler up every foot of land. But there was pays only for the water. For ten years not enough water to go round; crops he must live on the land, in order to ac failed in consequence, and the people quire his final title, and he is not allowed were threatened with the loss of their to complete his payments before the end homes. They appealed to Uncle Sam of that time. Nor can he sell the prop- for help, calling attention to the fact that erty—which, by the way, may be in area the Gunnison river, with an unlimited anywhere from 10 to 160 acres. It is supply of water, flowed only a few miles the Secretary of the Interior who de- away—the only trouble being that a termines what in any given locality shall mountain range six miles thick and more be a "farm unit"—that is, the amount of than half a mile high intervened. land that can be acquired by any one en- Yes, there was plenty of water, if they try-man. This depends upon the area could only get at it. It could not be that seems to be required to afford a de- fetched over the mountain range; so, obcent living for a family. If the soil is extremely rich, and the water supply is unlimited, it may be as small as ten acres ; most commonly it is either forty or eighty acres.

The Reclamation Act, under which these regulations are made, was passed, and was signed by President Roosevelt, in June, 1902. It is the wisest and best land law we have ever had, providing, as it does, for home-makers exclusively, and eliminating all possibility of speculation. Before being entitled to a patent of ownership, the entry-man is required to pay the entire charges for water; and he must show that he has reclaimed for farming purposes at least one-half of the total irrigable area assigned to him.

Some of the tasks undertaken by the government experts have been so extraordinary as to approach the spectacular. For instance, a few years ago, large numbers of settlers rushed into the Uncompahgre valley, in Colorado/a veritable Paradise on earth and took TUNNEL THROUGH WHICH THE Diverted TruckEE RIVER



« PreviousContinue »