The Making of an Agricultural Landscape in the American West
Publication Year: 1999
Published by: University of Washington Press
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Foreword: Paradise Lost or Gained?
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Ordinarily, a book on the history of irrigation in Idaho might seem like pretty dull stuff to readers encountering it for the first time, an all-tootypical academic monograph on a narrow subject likely to be of interest only to scholars with decidedly eccentric tastes for obscure topics in remote places. ...
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Numerous institutions and people assisted me in my effort to research and write this history. The Idaho Historical Society, the Idaho Department of Water Resources, the Idaho Falls and Twin Falls public libraries, the Aberdeen-Springfield Canal Company, the Enterprise Irrigation District, and the Twin Falls Canal Company ...
Introduction: Discovering the Irrigated Landscape
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My understanding of Idaho’s irrigated landscape began to take shape on a summer day in 1990. I was traveling over country roads, heading west from the town of Twin Falls through the heart of a 200,000- acre tract of farms, itself located within the vast arid basin sometimes called the Snake River valley ...
1. Genesis: Water, Earth, and Irrigation Systems
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Idaho’s irrigated landscape developed during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries from the interaction of agriculture with the Snake River valley environment. At the heart of this agriculture was a vision, shared by many people, of the human relationship to nature. Engineers, farmers, journalists, and social reformers ...
2. Habitat: The Irrigated Landscape and Its Biota
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With dams and canals, irrigators had begun the transformation of the Snake River valley into an irrigated landscape. They moved the process another step forward when they stripped the earth of its preexisting flora and fauna and supplanted them with crops and livestock. Sagebrush, greasewood, rabbitbrush, bunchgrass ...
3. Dividing Water: Conflict, Cooperation, and Allocation on the Upper Snake River
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Fundamental to the irrigated landscape’s unfolding history were the laws and conventions that irrigators adopted to govern the allocation of water. Irrigators sought to divide the flow of rivers and canals among themselves; accomplishing this division in a just, cooperative, and, within limits, equitable fashion required ...
4. Labor and Landscape: Irrigated Agriculture and Work
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In May 1877, journalist W. A. Goulder traveled through the Boise Valley to survey its agricultural development. His dispatches mostly depicted small family farms in a landscape of irrigation ditches, hay and wheat fields, verdant pastures, and groves of willows and Lombardy poplars. According to Goulder, cultivated acreages ...
5. From Field to Market: Agricultural Production in the Irrigated Landscape
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When inhabitants of Idaho’s Snake River valley worked, they both defined themselves socially and shaped the irrigated landscape. But their labor resulted in something more: it involved these people in a productive process that merged nature with yet another human system, the market. Farmers and agricultural workers ...
6. Industrial Eden: Myth, Metaphor, and the Irrigated Landscape
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Idaho’s irrigated landscape was a world made from many things: water, earth, and concrete, plants and animals, laws, policies, and social institutions, sweat, and economic relationships. But it was also a world that was inseparable from the activity of the mind, a world made from the imagination. It was here, ...
Conclusion: A World in the Making
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When I began my exploration of the irrigated landscape and its history—when I first stood and looked at Lateral L—I did not realize that I would eventually travel so far into mythic terrain. I had anticipated that my journey would keep me squarely in the realm of the physical landscape and the laws, policies, ...
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Publication Year: 1999
Series Title: Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books
Series Editor Byline: Edited by William Cronon