For many years numerous citizens of this community have dreamed of the day when White River could be harnessed and its great flood waters be turned into the natural reservoir, just a short distance west of the town of Whitney. They were pioneers in this country. They saw the possibilities of what that water would mean to the land around it, and wondered just how it could be worked so that the promised dream could be brought to pass. At the time most of them thot of the cost and considered it prohibitive for one or two men to undertake. Then they thot of a national government proposition, but that disheartened them because of the time it takes to get our government to act on such matters.
So time went on, and men dreamed their dreams and accomplished nothing in the way of having their dreams realized. Just about this time a new water commissioner was appointed for this district, the Hon. J. D. Heywood of Crawford, and when he became aware of the possibilities of this project he at once got action and together with help of John Rasmussen and Wm. Norman, they traveled the district and learned of the feeling among the land owners. Some of these men made a trip to Bridgeport to see the Honorable R. H. Willis, chief of the Bureau of Power, Irrigation and Drainage.
After a consultation, they prevailed upon Mr. Willis to come up and inspect the project and see if it would pass his judgment. In a few days this gentleman came up bringing with him W. F. Chaloupka, a civil engineer, who works in the office with Mr. Willis. Together with men from here and Crawford, the company of men made the rounds of the District and the sight of the proposed pipe line from the White River to the reservoir. Mr. Willis recommended a preliminary survey. Accordingly this was done and no time lost. A number of men from here, George Lawrence, Grant Spearman, B. D. Austin, Ray Hitchcock, T.L. Holding and others, assisted in the survey, which was done in record time and we leave it to the engineer, if it was not about as quick as he ever surveyed out a project. The last day of the survey the ladies of Whitney put on a reception for the two gentlemen from Bridgeport, and one of the largest crowds in the history of this town was in attendance. A fine dinner was served and numerous speeches made afterwards.
The result of the first survey showed that the project was a highly feasible one and was fully recommended by Mr. Willis. He advised going ahead and make a final survey. Get all maps of the pipe line reservoir and land to be watered, and then organize an irrigation district; float bonds and construct same. Mr. Chaloupka was employed to do the work and with the help of local assistance, made a very quick and accurate survey as desired. The district was organized, an election held and passed by a large majority. Then the matter of getting the district in divisions and electing a board of officers took some time and was finally accomplished.
After all this preliminary work was done, which took very nearly a year’s time, it was pushed just as fast as the law allowed, an election was called for floating bonds of the district, with which to construct the project. This bond election was held last spring and despite some opposition carried by quite a majority. The engineer had his plans and specifications drawn up by this time and recommended that a bond issue of nearly $400,000 be voted with which to build the project. This meant around $40 an acre would be needed to construct the works. From the time the bonds were voted till this fall a number of men spent a good deal of time and money in trying to sell the bonds on the market. A good many trips were made over the ground and a good many men saw the possibilities of the project, but for some unknown reason irrigation bonds are hard to sell, and no one knows it better than the men who have been associated with the District. However, by persistent work and great patience we have at last crowned our works with success. The State of Nebraska has promised to take on-third of the bond issue and a Construction Company have promised to take the others in at par for work. The work will be started in the spring, as soon as weather permits, and all going well with no mishaps, the Whitney Irrigation District will be an established fact this coming November, and water will be flowing into the reservoir storing up for the coming season, when the water will be available for land under the District.
Some of the main points of this system are as follows: Just a few miles below Crawford, a diversion dam will be constructed across White River and the water run thru a pipe line 36 inches in diameter, some six and a quarter miles long. This pipe line empties into the reservoir that will be constructed and it will hold about 10,000 acre feet of water. The reservoir will cover 900 acres of land. It is about one mile wide by two miles long. Some places in the reservoir the water will be sixteen feet deep. This reservoir is located just a little over a mile west of the town of Whitney, and is almost in the heart of the land that is to be watered. Two main canals will lead out of the reservoir carrying water to the land. One canal goes north and west and across Cottonwood creek and thence east. The other comes east along by Whitney and down along the river bottom. These two canals will water around 10,000 acres of land as surveyed and plotted. Some land has been cut out and other land may be included at a future date.
The following persons are interested in this Irrigation District and will be Benefitted Materially by its Construction
Mrs. Minnie Hebbert
C. L. Wilson
W. D. & C. F. Connell
R. L. Nance
T. L. Holding
B. D. Austin
J. L. Jensen
L. N. Cartwright
Mrs. Rosena Blust
R. R. Cunningham
M. L. Perks
J. E. Porter
O. R. Ivins
R. L. Ivins
Arah L. Hungerford
Iowa Land Co.
Practically all of the townsite land around town is under the project. There will be anumber of fine acre lots to be had under the ditch. Also some town lots are included. All the acres in the south part of town are included and this will be of great benefit to the holders for garden purposes alone.
We feel that this Irrigation District will mean a lot to Whitney and this territory. It can’t help but advance all things, for wherever irrigation came, there was something doing and a general advance in progress along material lines.
Certainly a lot of credit should be given the few men who have worked on this proposition faithfully and have given their time and money to make it a sure go. Their names will certainly go down in history, and when a write up of this town and country is made in a few years or any time in the future, they will surely be given credit for putting forth such a great enterprise.