Cache County, Historic Markers, Irrigation, Logan, SUP, utah
Major Irrigation Canals Constructed in Cache Valley
Before canals existed in Cache County, the agriculture was limited to dry farms and grazing. To pioneer settlements, water was not only the source of wealth, but of human existence. Construction of the Logan
and Hyde Park canal (9) was started in 1860. Work on four more Logan River canals (8,10, 11, and 12) began in 1864. The highest canal (7) was begun in 1881.
Tools for canal construction included shovels, picks, spades, wooden plows, and go-devils. Go-devil ditchers were constructed of two large logs fastened together in the shape of an A, like a snow plow. Loaded with men and pulled with several yoke of oxen or teams of horses, this machine pushed the loose dirt to the sides to make the bank for the canal. It was estimated that up to 32 teams of horses were simultaneously working in the valley at one time. Blasting was used in the last Logan River canal (7) to provide channeling in rocky areas along the canyon walls. Concrete reinforcement was also required.
For the early canals, proper grade for water flow was established with homemade devices consisting of a horizontal 16 to 20 foot board with a vertical plumb bob hanging from a vertical frame in the middle and a vertical stake at each end. One stake was longer than the other so as to determine the amount of fall required to assure the water could flow downhill. On one canal the plumb bob level was accidentally reversed so the water was expected to run uphill and the project had to be resurveyed.
When cash was unavailable, canal workers were paid with deeds for acreages to be irrigated. Food and tents were provided as workers lived on the job. Bank loans could not always be repaid and one project went bankrupt and remained idle for seven years. Completed canals were often breached and maintenance was a continuing activity. Despite numerous difficulties, using homemade devices and working in close cooperation, the pioneers brought some 50,000 irrigated acres into production by 1880 and more than 90,000 acres by 1900. This represented 1,255 farms in 1880 and 2,506 in 1900. By 1900 there were 118 separate cooperative canal systems in the valley. Most of these early cooperatives never incorporated and in 1956 remained mutual companies managed by and belonging to the farmers they
This historic marker is #184 of the historic markers erected by the Sons of Utah Pioneers, it was erected in 2014 and is in Canyon Entrance Park in Logan, Utah.