Story draft: Fruitland company irrigation ditch

(Map pin at Daisy, WA, about 15 miles south of Kettle Falls.)

In 1908, Kettle Falls had 99 problems, but a ditch wasn’t one. Part of the landscape that lies under lake Roosevelt today is a series of “benchlands,” flat regions separated by steep drops. The volcanic soil is fertile and the nearby Columbia river provides excellent drainage, but the challenge was bringing the water uphill to the crops. The solution was an irrigation ditch.

ditch-crew

The channel, built by the Fruitland company around 1907, ran from the confluence of the Colville and Columbia rivers, near Kettle Falls, to the town of Daisy, 15 miles South on the Columbia. The result was a long strip of irrigated land, ideal for the orchards that still grow there today. These improvements to the land helped entice farmers to move to the area and built up the local economy.

 

 

irrigationpaper

Carrying water across the terrain took ingenuity. The finished “ditch” was actually a combination of ditches and flumes, wooden structures that carried water high above ground. Its path was close to the present-day shoreline, so most of the irrigation system was washed away by Lake Roosevelt, but portions of it can still be seen today.

flume