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The Adams County Record
Council, Idaho
December 5, 2012     The Adams County Record
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December 5, 2012

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The Adams County Record The History Corner Wednesday, December 5, 2012 A mass of ruins Page 7 By Dale Hsk -- 253-4582 I'm continuing this week with the story of Mesa, using documents found and donated to the muse- um by Delvin Watkins. People at the beginning of the 20th century always painted a rosy picture of the prospects for a town or a business enterprise. 2-he orchard land at Mesa was touted in glowing terms as a wonderful investment. Behind the curtain of the operation, however, things looked different. A letter with no signature to who wrote it, and no salutation to indicate to wlom it was written spells out some of what was going on. It isn't clear to me just who the "present owners" referred to here were; the land was still owned by the Weiser Valley Land and Water Company: "When the present owners took over the project in the fall of 1910, there had been issued and was then outstanding $175,800 of first mortgage bonds...." "They were in form of a first lien upon a large tract of orchard land and upon the water supply and irrigation system therefore. "Ihat land was supposed to havebeen planted with apple trees and to have been sold to bona fide purchasers at not less than $500 per acre" "There had been so deposited against the bonds then outstanding about $220,000 of mortgages, apparently covering nearly 600 acres of growing orchard:' The present owners soon development on different lines - discontinuing .the plan of getting rich quick by unloading the proposition upon some one else for a profit. They acquired additional land until they owned about 4,000 acres in all and laid out and installed an extensive and expensive underground water system and started found: "Instead of being in, m good faith, to make a flourishing enterprise, it more nearly resembled a mass of ruins. The flume line and irrigation system were only partially constructed and the contractors had not been paid and liens had been filed for large amounts. The few trees that were planted had died for want of water and had to be replaced in the spring of 1911. MI work had been stopped for lack of funds and the whole proposition seemed to be headed for the rocks:' Some water was hauled m barrels on wagons to irrigate the trees until the irrigation system was finally compl6ted in 1911. "The new owners were compelled practically to begin all over again, only they planned a larger the orchards the best in the country. They discontinued the issue of first bonds; but put out instead a new issue of $600,000 of 6% bonds, known as "Refunding Bonds..." "...making the bonds a direct lien upon all the land and other property... should be applied to the payment of the bonds. The stockholders of the Company took those bonds as issued...and used the proceeds in developing the property. They have besides put in nearly half a million dollars of their own money and the whole project is today one of the bet in the Northwest and the orchards are making good in every way and are really becoming famous. The planted land is now selling readily for $600 per acre and the problem is to get it planted fast enough: "...everything went along nicely until the first installment of old bonds became due. It was then discovered that the greater portion of the $220,000 of mortgages against which the first bonds were issued were accommodation mortgages merely, made by members of the Company and clerks and stenographers without any intention of paying them and for the sole purpose of getting bonds certified and issued against them: I take the insiders in the company claiming accommodation mortgages" as their saying, "I'm good for the money; trust me" They made it look like they had invested in the company's bonds, but it was just on paper to make it look like the company had enough money. I may be wrong. "The first bonds were thus left unprovided for and could not be met When due and the somewhat anomalous situation occurred of a refunding bond, being better secured than a first bond and more certain of being paid? "This whole situation was, of course, a keen disappointment to every one concerned, although it was not the fault of any one now connected with the Company and the Trustee is in no way to be blamed therefore. The new management at once decided to make the old bonds good by reselling the land and putting up bona fide mortgages in place of the fictitious ones - but that process necessarily postpones the payments so that the first bonds are becoming due before the money is ready to meet them:' I'll have more on the Mesa story next week. Don't forget to consider a donation to the Council Valley Museum. You can donate up to $100 and get half of that back from the state (taken off of your state income tax). Checks can be mailed to PO Box 252, Council, ID 83612, Corner Orchard Bouleoard and Mesa Ave., Mgaa, ldah. Big wooden pipes were used as "siphons" to cross low places and canyons such as Fall Creek. Water entering one end of these pipes would rise to the same level at the other end. The end closer to Mesa would be slightly lower, and the water would spill into another section of flume. There is a section of one of these 3-foot diameter pipes in the Council museum. A company store, with a post office in it, was an early element of the Mesa project. It would be replaced around 1920 by a more modem building. A homeowner sits in front of her tarpaper-sided house at Mesa. Lots were sold to a number of people who actually lived on them in addition to grow- ing fruit or other crops. On the back of this photo was written, "The crew that laid out Council orchards at Mesa." Also, "Carl Twitchel?" Maybe Carl Twitchel is the man with an X above him. This crew would have been the ones who planned the layout of miles of pipes and ditches that irrigated the trees.