Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/159

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147
IRRIGATION IN THE ARID STATES.

has many and greater valleys of the Nile waiting to pour forth enormous harvests whenever the legislative and executive work of the irrigator has been accomplished.

If I were writing a history of irrigation in America—and a wonderful story it is—I should have to devote a chapter to the Spanish influence in all the lands from Texas to southern California, where men, whose mountaineer ancestors had learned the value of water in arid districts from the builders of the Alhambra, made reservoirs and led many a fertilizing stream to acres of vines and oranges on the high plains about old missions, or in the adobe-walled gardens of newly founded towns, such as San Antonio, Santa Fé, and Los Angeles. I should have to tell about the ruined irrigation canals of forgotten tribes in Arizona, southern Utah, and other regions of the Southwest where hundreds of square miles were covered with a network of water ditches, small and great. The modern irrigator often adopts the grades of these prehistoric channels for his enterprises, finding that no engineer can improve upon them. I should have to describe the fields under the red and yellow heights of Zuñi or Acoma, where the Pueblo Indians still raise their spotted corn by irrigation, as their ancestors did centuries ago, in the bottoms of narrow canons where the ruins of their fortressed cliff-dwellings still remain. But these things, except perhaps for a passing allusion, are foreign to the purpose of this investigation.

The arid States and Territories are beginning to organize as a group of communities that have common interests and a common purpose. Their respective areas and populations are shown in the following table:

Name. Area, square miles. Population in 1890.
Texas   265, 780 2,235, 523
New Mexico   122, 580 153, 593
Arizona   113, 020 59, 620
California   158, 360 1,208, 130
Colorado   103, 925 412, 198
Utah   84, 970 207, 905
Nevada   110, 700 45, 761
Kansas (west of 97°)   56, 000 807, 000
Nebraska   76, 855 1,058, 910
Wyoming   97, 890 60, 705
South Dakota 149, 100 328, 808
North Dakota 182, 719
Montana   146, 080 132, 159
Idaho   84, 800 84, 385
Oregon (eastern)   48, 000 113, 767
Washington (eastern)   35, 000 149, 390
Total   1,652, 060 7,480, 573