the
Juniper Berry

No Water for Grandview


copyright Guy Swanson

Rainfall in Grandview was plentiful a hundred years ago.  Houses, barns, corrals and fences went up, rocks were cleared and crops planted.  Fields of rye, wheat, timothy, clover and alfalfa grew.  Homesteader's gardens yielded potatoes, watermelon, corn, tomatoes and lettuce.

The project to bring water to Grandview was outlined in the Madras Pioneer in October of 1915 with the headline: “Grandview District will Irrigate the Land”.    Settlers voted a $680,000 bond by an overwhelming 64 to 2 to authorize the Suttle Lake Irrigation District of Grandview.

The plan called for digging a twenty-three mile canal from Suttle lake to the lower desert, south of Black Butte and down Stevens Canyon.    One hundred miles of lateral ditches would deliver the water to individual farms.

By the first of August in that year a crew of 335 men excavated a 400 foot long clearing for the dam and completed 500 feet of of the main canal.   They drove stakes to mark the ditches and laterals that would distribute water throughout Grandview.

The plan had problems from the beginning. A contract was awarded to the Henry J. Kaiser Construction company, but when they failed to produce the earnest money required the contract was severed. The State Banking Commission in Salem would not certify bonds that were based on wartime crop prices that were crashing by the early twenties.    No other underwriter came forward and the Grandview water rights to Suttle Lake expired in 1923.

Annual rainfall decreased as a drought set in and by 1924 farmers who couldn't grow any field crops began to leave. The Madras State Bank closed it's doors in 1926 and alot of farmers lost their savings. The pre-depression economy was booming in the cities and drew people away in search of work. At first they left for the winter but many just never came back. Abandoned farms attracted squatters who arrived to stay as long as they wanted, or could. Grandview was returning to open range.

 
 
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