A RECENT and notable addition to the work of the government in applied science is the creation of the corps of engineers known as the Reclamation Service, an organization under one of the branches of the U. S. Geological Survey. The operation of these engineers grows out of the passage of the Reclamation Act of June 17, 1902, setting aside the proceeds of the disposal of public lands to be used in survey and construction of irrigation works in the thirteen states and three territories of the arid region.
The development of this corps of engineers is a logical outcome of the work of the Geological Survey, and is the result of development along definite lines of research. The beginnings antedate the creation of the present Geological Survey, and are to be found in the reports of Major J. W. Powell, the pioneer in so many lines of research. His report on the lands of the arid region early attracted attention to the importance of irrigation, and when he became director of the Geological Survey he, through his strong interest in the subject, turned much of the work of the survey in directions which led to a larger knowledge of the opportunities of the creation of homes in the west.
In 1888 the director of the Geological Survey was authorized to investigate the extent to which the arid regions might be reclaimed, and appropriations were given with special reference to mapping the catchment areas of the principal rivers and obtaining a broad knowledge of the entire country.
In 1894 specific appropriations were had for stream measurements, and these were gradually increased, resulting in the operations of the