From Desert to Farmland
by Johnny Hester
As the gold played out in the nearby mountains, Boise citizens looked for new ways to make the budding town a viable place to live. People started to look at the dry arid desert and envision lush fertile farmlands, and reclamation became the wave of the future. An irrigation system, later dubbed the Boise Project, took hold in the Boise valley. Although not always a smooth venture, development of the project eventually led to the valley’s transformation to a leading agricultural region.
Constructing the New York Canal.
1884–A. D. Foote surveys a main canal and several lateral ditches.
1890–Foote and C. H. Tompkins contract W. C. Bradbury to work on the canal.
1891–Bradbury leaves the project due to insufficient funds.
1892–Foote pulls out of the canal project.
1896–Tompkins loses the water claim and leaves the project.
1899–The New York Canal Company formed to finish the canal.
1900–Water first runs through canal on June 20.
1902–Congress passes the Reclamation Act on June 17.
Surveying and planning begins for a project to irrigate the Boise Valley.
1904–U. S. Reclamation Service launches the Boise Project.
1905–Congress approves the Boise Project on March 27.
Town of Diversion Dam is established.
1906–Bidding opens for the Boise Project on February 1.
Construction on canal section from Indian Creek to Deer Flat begins in February.
Construction on canal section above Indian Creek begins in May.
Construction on Boise Diversion Dam begins in March.
Construction on Deer Flat begins.
Atlantic steam shovels arrive at Deer Flat in September.
1907–Contractors pronounce 41% of diversion dam completed on April 1.
1908–Boise Diversion Dam completed in October.
1909–Government again enlarges New York Canal.
1911–Deer Flat Reservoir completed.
1912–New York Canal completed.