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November 20, 2012     The Adams County Record
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November 20, 2012
 

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The Adams County Record Tuesday, November 20, 2012 Page 7 The History Corner Mesa documents uncovered By Dale Fisk -- 253-4582 It's getting toward the end of the year, and time to remind folks that Idaho has a generous tax break for donations to institu- tions such as the museum. The museum is paying its own electric bills these days, plus we are going to be undertaking some remodeling of our down- stairs storage area to make it more secure and usable. Part of that project will be funded from a small grant we got from the Idaho Historical Society that we have to match, and we can sure use some help. If any of you are thinking about a 2012 tax credit, please keep the museum in mind for a donation. A few weeks ago I spent a couple days with Delvin Watkins who now lives near Lewiston, Idaho. The guy is a collector's collector, and has been acquiring items related to Council and New Meadows history since he was young. He salvaged a pile of papers and miscellaneous things from old buildings at Mesa years ago, and he donated them to the Council Valley Museum. The papers shed some light on the inner workings of that project. First a little background. John J. Allison George Weise and Oberlin M. Carter, organized the Weiser Valley Land & Water Company about 1908. Using money from investors from all over the country, they purchased several thousand .acres from the homesteaders on the hills around what would later be known as Mesa. -heir goal was to sell lots on which they would plant fruit trees. The diversion dam on the Middle Fork of the Weiser River where the Mesa flume took water out. Some of the concrete part of the dam (about where the men are standing) is still visible at this spot, but the recent flooding destroyed quite a bit of what had been there. At that time, fruit growing was becoming the big thing to do in the Northwest. The Mesa project was only one of many similar efforts in the region. The Northern Pacific Railroad helped promote the industry, as much of the fruitgrowing area was within their service area - from Montana to Washington. In their 1910 promotional booklet, "q-he King of The Land of Fortune" the king they were talking about was the apple. Their said, "We know that orchard in the East and Middle West have for some reason been growing less and less productive. In respect to the care and attention given to orchard, and particularly the apple orchards, the orchardist of the Northwest excds." The railroad company continued, saying that 50 years ago, "not more than one-tenth as many apples were raised for commercial purposes in the United States as are raised today y One of the first hurdles to be overcome at Mesa was getting irrigation water to the young trees. An ambitious scheme was devised whereby the company Would take water out of the Middle Fork of the Weiser Riven The only problem was that all the water rights to this river had already been claimed. Their solution was to build a $50,000 dam on Lost Creek, about 25 miles to the north, creating a reservoir (Lost Lake). They would then trade this reservoir water for water they would take from the Middle Fork. Getting the water from the Middle Fork to Mesa required a seven-mile-long flume. Construction of the dam at Lost Valley started in September of 1909 and took just over a month to complete. By June of 1910, over 72,000 trees had been planted at Mesa. The water to irrigate them would come soon. At least that was the plan. One of the papers from Delvin's collection was a letter written by C. K. Macey, on June 18, 1910. By this time, Mace}, was the General Manager of the Weiser Valley Land & Water Company that operated the 'Council- Mesa Orchards." The letterhead announced e other officers of the company: Elias Nelson, Horticulturalist; C,E. Miesse, President; Prof. J. J. Allison, Vice President; Fred Brown, Secretary; C.E Hatfield, Treasurer. In his letter, Macey said, "the flume will be finished Wednesday or Thursday next, and we will have eveDthing ready by then for irrigating the north part of the orchards which are under the open ditch." He referred to several carloads of irrigation pipe that arrived, .and about the ditches in which the pipe will be laid: "It will take four or five days yet to complete these ditches, and the pipe can be laid at the rate of at least half a mile a day when they start on it y (The The flume under construction. The old flume still clings to the hillsides above the Middle Fork, but it is about rotted away. Council newspaper said the ditches cost $300,000.) Reading between the lines,-one can tell that Macey and the investors were concerned about the fact that their tens of thousands of young trees had not been watered yet, aside from some water hauled in wagons. But, Macey said, " I have trampled all over the lands the last few days, and find the trees holding their own in good shape. We had quite a shower q-hursday afternoon, which freshened everything up considerably" Macey's letter contained details of $217,626.71 in expenses incurred by the company. Bear in mind that a dollar back then would buy what about $23 would buy today, so the above figure would be the equivalent of over $5 million today. Multiply the following figures by 23 to equate them to current values. Some of the major expenses were: Slick Bros. Construction of Boise - $5,691.37 for ditch line; Caldwell Nursery $2,536.46 for trees and plants; Allison & Gates of Council - $2,968 for clearing land; Payette Lumber & Mfg. Co. of Payette - $1,109.87 for "Log Scale, Saw Mill"; $1,156.95 for freight, lumber, ditch line, etc.; Seattle Coast Pipe Co., Seattle, Wash. $3,862.55 for "Stave Pipe to Ditch Line"; Boise City National Bank $2,273.60 for mortgage interest. I'll have more on Mesa next week. Somebody said the man on the left in last week's logging photo (sitting beside Frank Smith) might be Leland Wheeler. I haven't heard from anyone else on this one. I got an email from a guy who is looking for an old news story about an incident that occurred in Bear back around 1975, to maybe as late as 1980, but probably closer to 1975. It was the story of a man (Mel Huffman) who shot the headlights out of several snowmobiles that were making noise one night. If anyone can narrow down the time frame or tell me more details, it will help in finding the info. 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