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With the election of 1901, the Modesto Irrigation
District was back in the control of those who
believed in it, but statistically the odds in
favor of its survival still were not high.
The Modesto district had not been alone in facing
adversity, but it was one of the few agencies
that survived. Of 49 irrigation districts formed
in California during the first decade after passage
of the Wright Act, only eight still existed in
1915 when Frank Adams of the U. S. Department
of Agriculture published a major study of irrigation
in California. Petitions for 10 other districts
had been filed. Five died even before reaching
the election stage; the others were defeated at
Eleven of the 49, mostly located in Southern
California, were classified by Adams as speculative,
but the remainder were serious attempts to bring
water to the land either through the creation
of new districts or acquisition and improvement
of existing private irrigation systems. Failing
districts died for a variety of reasons, including
poor engineering, lack of economic feasibility,
over-optimism about the availability of water
and inadequate management. Creating irrigation
districts under a new, untried law was difficult
and brought unexpected results.
While Adams said "the disastrous mistakes"
made under the original California Irrigation
Districts Act "brought a tremendous economic
loss to California," he maintained the "final
results (were) essentially constructive and forward."
For the Modesto district, the final results were
most satisfactory, although delays and doubts
caused by more than a decade of litigation greatly
depressed land values. Assessed valuations of
land in the district plunged from $4 million in
1888 to less than $2 million by 1900. Small farmers
suffered dearly, for they could not survive as
producers of wheat in a declining market. Without
water, however, there were few alternatives to
While statistically the odds were against success,
statistics are not people. The initial Modesto
Irrigation District directors and officers were
"men well fitted for the important offices
to which they were elected," according to
a Modesto Daily Evening News evaluation immediately
after the election.
Robert McHenry, the district’s first president,
was a native New Englander who inherited that
region’s habits of industry and economy.
President of the First National Bank of Modesto
and owner of the 4,000-acre Bald Eagle Ranch north
of Modesto, McHenry was the only one of the original
five directors not opposed in the 1887 election.
He represented much of the City of Modesto.
J. W. Davison, a native of Missouri, was an Empire
area grain farmer, one of the first to harvest
grain with a combine propelled by 32 mules and
horses. A former county supervisor, Davison was
elected on the anti-irrigation ticket to represent
an area which opposed the creation of the MID .
Davison was described by the News, however, as
"a man of first class ability and full of
push and energy…looked upon by the friends
of irrigation as a good man for the place, knowing
him to be possessed of sound judgement and very
progressive," a description which events
proved most accurate.
E. H. Gatlin, an east side grain producer farming
960 acres, was the other anti-irrigationist elected,
receiving the same 37-to-5 vote cast in the division
against the district.
A. G. Carver, the Maine sailor turned rancher,
had presided over the 1877 meeting at which Engineer
William Ham Hall had presented the basic concept
for irrigating Paradise Valley that ultimately
was adopted by the Modesto district. Carver was
to be the second president of the district, serving
until his death in 1891.
W. H. Finley, a Kentuckian who farmed 800 acres
near Modesto, was to serve on the board until
he retired in 1895, having been the third president
for the previous four years.
Isaac Perkins, the MID ’s first treasurer,
was the first hardware store owner in Modesto.
V. E. Bangs, a pioneer teacher and farmer who
was to be elected the following year to the California
State Assembly, was assessor. T. O. Owens, a young
farmer who had fought for irrigation, was the
district’s first collector whose later disappearance
revealed a shortage of funds.
Getting the Modesto Irrigation District under
way was a slow process, strictly a hand-to-mouth
Historian Sol Elias, who at the turn of the century
personally participated in some of the efforts
to make the operation successful, commented in
his Stories of Stanislaus:
The first directorates of the Modesto Irrigation
District undertook a great enterprise under a
new law, the provisions of which were untried,
and the validity of which was as yet unadjudicated…There
were no precedents to guide (them)…The first
directors groped for means and methods…The
colossal magnitude of the problem necessarily
impelled slow and deliberate action.
The process of getting water to the fields of
Paradise Valley started quickly enough, for it
was only two weeks after the initial organizational
meeting of the board of directors that C. E. Grunsky
of San Francisco was hired to prepare preliminary
plans and estimates for an irrigation system.
Both the Stanislaus and Tuolumne Rivers were to
be explored as sources of supply.
In mid-August of 1887 Director Davison, who was
serving as secretary to the board, filed in behalf
of the Modesto district notices of appropriation
on both rivers. For the next few months, Davison
devoted all his time and energies to work with
Grunsky in determining the feasibility of various
reservoir sites on both rivers.
Although a year later the Modesto board was to
opt for the Stanislaus River as its source, Directors
McHenry, Carver and Davison had been authorized
in September 1887 to meet with the Turlock directors
concerning use of the Tuolumne. In the following
month, Davison was named a committee of one to
contact the Turlock district about possible joint
canal operations. Both appointments were made
before Grunsky had completed his report. Although
MID board minutes fail to show any report on the
MID -TID discussions, the idea of the two districts
working together existed virtually from their
It was to be three years before the two districts
got together, however. The subsequent marriage
has lasted for nearly a century, but not without
Today, preliminary planning of water resource
development projects is measured in terms of years.
Grunsky, however, made his report to the board
in just 10 weeks.
He offered four distinct proposals:
- Irrigate the entire district from the Tuolumne
River, using Dry Creek as a canal for several
miles; estimated cost, $1,117,800.
- Construct a 90-foot-high dam on the Stanislaus
River two miles above Knights Ferry and irrigate
all the district from this source; estimated
- Irrigate only 90,000 of the 108,000 acres
then in the district by utilizing a Turlock
Irrigation District canal down the south side
of the Tuolumne River and then a pipeline across
the river to the Modesto side; estimated cost,
- Irrigate 90,000 acres through the joint TID-MID
canal and pipeline across the Tuolumne and irrigate
the rest of the district from the Stanislaus
River; estimated cost, $788,950.
Today, the concept of irrigating all of the district
– which was reduced in size to 80,000 acres
in 1889 by an exclusion of much high ground on
the east side – by gravity flow via a main
canal running through the rolling hills seems
quite logical. That ultimately is what was done.
In 1887, however, the Modesto Herald editorially
wrote off the idea as "utterly impracticable"
which "will receive no consideration"
from the board of directors because of cost.
Grunsky leaned toward the Stanislaus as a source
of supply, although its 1,050 square miles of
watershed would yield less runoff than the Tuolumne’s
1,501 square-mile watershed, which also included
glaciers at much higher elevations.
He outlined his Stanislaus River proposal in
great detail, even indicating whose ranches the
various canals would cross. The engineer’s
concern about the Tuolumne as a source was whether
there would be enough water to go around if the
MID had to share with the Turlock district.
Even before making a final selection as to which
river to tap, it was obvious that any solution
would be costly, so on November 19, 1887, the
board ordered a special election for passage of
an $800,000 bond issue. The December 19th vote
overwhelmingly favorable, 439 to 76.
After traveling to Knights Ferry to inspect the
proposed dam site personally, the board on June
16, 1888, voted to proceed with the development
on the Stanislaus River. East side Director E.
R. Crawford, who had succeeded Gatlin earlier
that year, dissented.
Grunsky was authorized to hire whatever personnel
he needed to prepare plans. Three months later,
after two unsuccessful attempts to sell bonds,
the fiscal plight of the district was such that
Grunsky and his crew were dismissed.
There was no market for irrigation district bonds,
for no one was willing to risk cash to invest
in an unknown quantity that lacked a fiscal history.
By October district finances were so grim that
the board of directors terminated the services
of all employees, except James Rector, who was
identified in the board minutes sometimes as a
laborer and sometimes as "the construction
department," and recently-appointed Secretary
W. W. Granger. Davison, elected on the anti-irrigation
ticket, had served as a volunteer secretary during
the MID ’s first year of existence.
The Modesto Irrigation District survived strictly
on credit until June 1888, when the district issued
warrants to pay its bills for the first time in
a year. Local merchants apparently accepted the
warrants as negotiable. Until the first assessment
could be levied, there was no money in the treasury.
Based on a $13,000 operating budget for 1889,
a 33 1/3 cents per $100 valuation assessment was
levied in September 1988 with payment due by December.
In spite of payments made under protest, the district
had money on which to operate. In January 1889,
the year-and-a-half-old district was able for
the first time to pay its bills with cash and
start to redeem the warrants.
Engineer Grunsky was rehired and then refired.
The bay area engineer’s telegram accepting
reappointment said he would finish the work for
$150. When he got off the train in Modesto, he
said that figure was a mistake and he wanted $750.
He was sent packing back to San Francisco.
Things began to seem brighter in March 1889 when
the California Legislature amended the Wright
Act to permit irrigation districts to file Superior
Court proceedings to authenticate their creation
and validate the issuance of their bonds.
The Modesto Irrigation District initiated these
proceedings in its own behalf July 31st. The move
sparked the celebrated Tregea vs. the MID suit,
which finally was resolved by the Supreme Court
of the United States.
As soon as Stanislaus County Superior Judge W.
O. Minor upheld the validity of the district and
its bonds, the Modesto district tried once again,
seeking bids on $400,000 in bonds, just half of
those authorized by the 1887 election.
On January 28, 1890, San Francisco financier
I. W. Wilbur purchased the bonds at 90 cents on
the $1. Two-and-a-half years after formation of
the Modesto Irrigation District, construction
finally could start on an irrigation system.
Stanislaus County still was wheat country –
the Stanislaus County News in June 1890 described
the county as "almost one solid wheat field
as far as the eye could see" – producing
90,000 tons of wheat a year, but there was hope
for something better.
All was not fiscal roses, however. In April 1891
when Owens, the district’s first tax collector,
disappeared from his job, family and town, a shortage
of funds was discovered. He had not been paid
for 14 months, however, and when the salary he
was owed was deducted from the shortage, it turned
out to be less than $1,000. When he turned years
later and the shortage was repaid, all charges
But as the new decade of the 1890s progressed,
there was renewed hope for irrigation and within
a year grain farmers would be planting orchards
in anticipation of the arrival of water.
Oramil McHenry, son of the MID ’s first
board president, for instance, planted several
hundred acres of tree fruit at the Bald Eagle
Ranch, later expanded to 6,000 acres along McHenry
Avenue north of Modesto. He provided interim water
from nine 170-foot deep wells. Several nurseries
were started that year in anticipation of the
transition from wheat to tree crops.
But before water could be delivered, a system
had to be designed and built. The first step was
to make a final choice as to where to get the
In spite of an earlier vote to go with the Stanislaus,
the district’s third engineer in two years,
Luther Wagoner, joined his immediate predecessor,
P. Y. Baker, in recommending the Tuolumne River
as a more dependable source. His decision was
based on the Tuolumne’s larger watershed:
Its average annual runoff of more than 2 million
acre feet far exceeded that of the Stanislaus,
averaging 1.4 million acre feet per year. This
convinced the directors, who elected to build
on the Tuolumne.
M. A. Wheaton, who earlier had tried unsuccessfully
to use his dam and water rights as the basis for
a semi-public irrigation system, still was willing
to sell. On June 18, 1890, the Modesto district
bought the Wheaton Dam and water rights "at
cost." The agreement provided the MID would
pay Wheaton $10,000 in cash and $21,000 in bonds.
Wheaton’s site was the most desirable on
the Tuolumne River, a steep-walled canyon only
80 feet wide at the bottom. It had been used as
a dam site since 1855 when a dam was built there
to divert water for a flour mill. The mill dam
had washed away during the Christmas Eve floods
of 1867 and Wheaton replaced it with a sturdy
structure built of 12-by-12-inch timbers held
together with 16 tons of bolts. Wheaton Dam had
withstood substantial floods. It was not high
enough, however, to divert water to serve the
Modesto district by gravity flow. A new, higher
dam must be built a short distance above it.
The Modesto board was hesitant to proceed alone
in building a bigger dam. So in August the Modesto
and Turlock boards met and agreed to join in building
a new La Grange Dam.
At the time Modesto purchased the dam and water
rights, Wheaton was having a dispute with the
Turlock district over rights-of-ways for its canal.
In an apparently unwritten understanding between
Wheaton and the MID , it had been agreed that the
Turlock district was not to become involved in
the use of Wheaton’s dam or water rights.
Enraged at the joint MID -TID agreement, Wheaton
brought suit against both districts for an additional
$135,000. A Stanislaus County jury awarded him
$475. Since some of the property and water rights
involved were in Tuolumne County, Wheaton sued
again in Tuolumne and was more successful. The
mountain county jury awarded him an additional
$35,000, of which the TID paid $32,500 and the
Modesto district the balance.
The two districts split the cost of construction
of La Grange Dam, but 20 years later they divided
costs and benefits generally in proportion to
the respective acreage in the two districts: one-third
for the MID and two-thirds for the TID.
Each district was to construct its own main canals
and distribution systems.
On the last day of 1890, the Modesto District
awarded J. R. McDougald of Stockton a contract
to build a 9,640-foot section of the main canal
from a point across the river from La Grange to
Gasburg Creek. Construction soon would be under
way, but it would be a long 13 years before the
canal system was ready to deliver water to the
farms of Paradise Valley.
In April 1891, in the same week that work was
started on the main canal, a contract was awarded
for the construction of La Grange Dam. It was
the second bid attempt. In the previous September
the best offer for placement of an estimated 32,000
cubic yards of material was $10.45 per yard. Those
bids were rejected as too high.
On the second round, on June 23,1891, R. W. Gorrill
was the successful bidder with an offer of $10.39
per yard. The 6-cent difference in the bids amounted
to less than $2,000 on the total cost. The determining
factor in accepting Gorrill’s offer was
his agreement to proceed with whatever cash the
districts had on hand plus the balance in bonds
at 90 cents on the dollar.
Under the agreement, the districts were to supply
the cement, which it expected to purchase for
$3.45 per barrel. Anticipating the use of 10,000
barrels of cement and the placement of 32,000
yards of rock, the estimated cost of the dam was
$332,480. Actual cost was $550,000, with 39,500
cubic yards of rubble masonry held in place by
31,500 barrels of cement which cost $4.50 each.
Construction cost overruns are not a new phenomenon.
La Grange Dam, which still is the diversion point
for the Modesto and Turlock Irrigation Districts
94 years after its completion, is a "Cyclopean
rubble masonry" dam – huge boulders
set in or surrounded by concrete. It is faced
with rough dressed stone in cement mortar.
With no provisions for storage, it is strictly
an overflow dam, 320 feet long, curved on a radius
of 300 feet. At the base it is 91 feet, 6 inches
thick, tapering to 12 feet thick at the top. When
completed in 1894 La Grange Dam at 128 feet, 6
inches tall was the highest overflow dam in the
world. It was designed to withstand flows of up
to 17 feet deep over its crest. In the floods
of 1911 and 1950, up to 16 ½ feet floodwater
– an estimated 65,000 cubic feet per second
– was measured pouring over its crest.
Construction started with the movement of material
and equipment to La Grange in May 1891. The next
three months were consumed in establishing a camp
to house up to 200 workers and setting up rock-crushing
and cement-mixing plants and other heavy equipment.
All of this was moved by railroad to Waterford
and hauled the remaining 15 miles by wagon.
Educator-historian Herbert C. Florcken recalls
the wagon trains which moved the heavy freight
and cement to the site:
The ordinary wagon held from five
to ten tons and had attached to it two smaller
wagons as trailers. Such a rig, if hauled by 16
mules, could transport about 16 tons of freight.
The lead mules, just as in the case of pack-train
leaders, carried a set of bells riveted to an
iron band made in the form of an arch and fastened
to both sides of the hames, Which were in turn
buckled onto the collars. The bells warned persons
or teams about to start down a steep grade that
a heavily loaded team was coming uphill. They
also drowned out the clamor and creaking and groaning
of the freight wagons and kept the eyes and ears
of the following mules attracted to their leaders.
By October 1891, 25 feet of sand and gravel had
been excavated from the riverbed, leaving a solid
rock foundation for the dam footing.
By May the following year the dam stood 60 feet
tall. Two of the three 4-by-5 foot diversion tunnels
which carried the river around the dam site during
construction were filled with concrete and closed
off in 1893.
In 1893 when there were more than 150 men on
the job, the Modesto district ran out of money.
Twenty-seven people, including irrigation district
law author Wright, several officers of district
and private citizens purchased bonds at 90 cents
on the dollar to raise by subscription the $25,000
to buy needed cement.
The gates on the third tunnel were closed December
12, 1893, and the dam was completed officially
the next morning. Three days later, heavy floodwaters
poured six feet of water over the top of the new
dam and throughout the rest of the winter the
flow was never less than three feet over the crest.
Even before the dam was completed and with the
canal system a long way from being finished, Irrigation
Age, a monthly publication, featured, the Modesto
and Turlock Irrigation District in a four-page
article describing the systems as "the best
in the country."
It is ironic that the two directors who took
the most active on-the-site roles in construction
of La Grange Dam represented divisions which had
opposed the initial creation of the Modesto district
and which consistently had voted against construction
bonds. George D. Wootten of Division 1 and Frank
A. Cressey, Sr., of Division 2 were the committee
named to represent the MID in dealing with contractor
Gorrill and others involved in the project, including
the Turlock Irrigation District. Both devoted
full time to overseeing the dam project in behalf
of the Modesto board.
Wootten left behind a small pocket notebook in
which he had recorded notes about the progress
of the project. Although most of the entries are
accounts of quantities of cement used and on hand,
how many yards of concrete were produced from
a barrel – the quantity ran from about one-and-a-quarter
to one-and-three-quarter yards – some notes
shed light on the operations and life at the time.
Modesto district directors were paid $4 a day
when working for the district – at the dam
site, at meetings or in court – and $5.50
a day if they drove their own team. The mileage
rate for attending board meetings was 20 cents
per mile. Directors did not get paid mileage for
court appearances. The railroad fare from Modesto
to Folsom, where Wootten spent three days investigating
sand sluices, was $7.10. His board and room for
the entire three days was $3.25.
Stage fare from Modesto to La Grange was $1.75.
When Wootten drove his own team to the dam site,
his food bill for two meals was 50 cents, but
it cost $2.25 to feed his team.
Wootten’s only reference to a disastrous
cement warehouse fire during the summer of 1893
is found in his recapitulation of the cement inventory.
Warehouseman W. H. Finley’s report to Wooten
for the month of July showed 21,091 barrels had
been delivered to the contractor, 3,100 had "burned
in warehouse," 25 had been "sold,"
201 had been rejected, 284 remained in storage.
One of Wootten’s responsibilities was to
keep an adequate flow of cement moving to the
project. This did not always happen, as is noted
in a December 5, 1893, entry eight days before
completion of the dam: "Used all the cement
there was in the warehouse yesterday evening.
Expect the teams up by noon today. No work done
on the dam this morning on account of not having
Among his final entries were December 13, 1893,
"Completed the dam today," and January
30, 1894, "I, G. D. Wootten, received from
C. F. McCarthy, representing R. W. Gorrill, possession
of La Grange Joint Dam on behalf of Modesto Irrigation
District. The following persons were present at
the time delivery, to wit: W. H. Finley, J. S.
Alexander. C. S. Abbott, H. S. Crowe. I put H.
S. Crowe (then the Modesto district’s engineer)
in charge of La Grange Dam on behalf of Modesto
Completion of the dam, whose spectacular overflow
was to be described as "the Pacific Coast’s
answer to Niagara Falls," was followed by
local people with great interest.
During construction, regular reports were published
in the local papers, although notes of Don Pedro
social events preceded progress reports on the
dam. After its completion, the Modesto Morning
Herald reported large parties of Modestans were
visiting "the mammoth irrigation dam"
at La Grange nearly ever day, but commented: "They
were all delighted with the sight, but regretful
that the water was going to waste because of the
still uncompleted canals."
Today, La Grange Dam is an historic engineering
landmark, unique in design which probably never
will be duplicated.
The late Roy V. Meikle, who from 1912 was chief
engineer of the Turlock Irrigation District, noted
in 1955 that the type of construction then used
is not possible now because of today’s high
cost of labor and the fact today’s arch-type
concrete dams can be built more efficiently and
Thus, by early 1894 the Modesto Irrigation District
had a means of diverting its water from the Tuolumne
River, but no place for it to go. Canal construction
had been plagued with problems.
Work on the main canal, which was to carry Tuolumne
River water by gravity-flow some 25 miles through
the foothills to the district, had begun in April
1890. Even as the work progressed, the idea of
serving the district solely through a gravity
flow main canal was ridiculed as it had been earlier
by the Modesto Evening News which still maintained
it was "utterly impracticable."
By 1892 Stockton contractor McDougald, who was
building two sections of the canal totaling 36,400
feet, probably agreed with the News for he faced
many problems. McDougald finished one 9,640-foot
section in January 1892, but the work was not
accepted because of a dispute over whether the
job had conformed to specifications. An engineer
for the district maintained it had not and even
if it had met specifications, it should not be
Yesterday the (MID ) Board and Contractor
McDougald smoked the pipe of peace and buried
their glistening tomahawks in the bed of the Tuolumne
River. The tobacco for said pipe of peace will
cost Mr. McDougald $3,200 in the form of a rebate
on his bill.
The district decided to repair the work itself,
borrowing McDougald’s equipment, including
his "pumps, piping, implements and camping
equipment," according to the press report.
The contractor withdrew the lawsuits he had filed
against the district and purchased district bonds
in accordance with a prior agreement.
In the section between Gasburg Creek and Rairden’s
Gulch, a distance of 26,760 feet, McDougald faced
more difficult problems: digging a 1,150-foot
tunnel and coping with everything from hard rock
and hardpan to sand.
Tools and earth-moving equipment were primitive.
A few early Caterpillar tractors, developed by
Holt Brothers of Stockton, were used, but they
were bulky and balky, underpowered, hard to maneuver
and slow. Most of the canal work was done by "Fresno
scrapers" pulled by horses or mules and operated
manually by a man on foot. A man and team working
an 8-foot scraper all day could move about as
much dirt as a medium-sized earth mover can carry
in a single load today.
In quick succession, the rest of the main canal
contracts were awarded to other contractors in
1892. All were completed in 1893 and early 1894,
but before the water could flow, gullies had to
be spanned, headworks and gates installed at the
dam and lateral canals dug.
San Francisco engineer Otto Von Geldern, who
had assisted in the engineering of La Grange Dam,
was hired to design the rest of the system.
In a letter dated April 2, 1894, Von Geldern
condemned the first 4,000 feet of canal below
the dam. In hardly more than a year after completion,
he had found the "soft and rotten slate"
walls of the canal disintegrating, allowing "water
a free escape through the bank."
To provide a safe and satisfactory flow of 640
cubic second feet of water through the canal,
Von Geldern offered three solutions: 1) a concrete
canal, 2) a wooden flume, 3) a tunnel.
The engineer recommended the flume because of
cost and ease of construction, outlining a 16-foot
wide, 6-foot deep flume built primarily of redwood.
His plan called for a flooring of 4 x 10-inch
beams 24 feet long placed laterally across the
flume on 8 x 8-inch longitudinal stringers. The
sides would be 4 x 6-inch posts, braced by double
2 x 6-inch planking spiked to each side of the
post and the main timber. The whole interior would
be lined by 2-inch redwood planking, battened
at the sides to reduce leakage.
Figuring the redwood lumber cost $30 per 1,000
board feet delivered at Waterford, $7 per 1,000
board feet in hauling costs for the last 15 miles
to the construction site and $7 per 1,000 board
feet in labor costs for construction, plus excavation
work, Von Geldern computed the total cost of building
3,850 feet of flume at $34,100. This cost did
not include six trestle flumes which had to be
erected over gullies in other sections.
Von Geldern subsequently designed the headgates
and sluices to capture sand before the diverted
water entered the flume. The headgates, it should
be noted, would be made of 5 by 8-inch tongue-and-groove
planking and would be 8 feet, 6 inches high by
18 feet wide. It would require two men operating
hand cranks geared to a 12-inch worm gear to raise
the gate. The engineer estimated that two men
turning the cranks at the rate of 16 turns per
minute could raise them 4.4 feet in 10 minutes.
Von Geldern underestimated the strength of Stanislaus
County men and the speed at which they could crank
up the 2,200-pound gate.
While the Modesto directors were inspecting the
flume in April 1985 prior to acceptance of the
work, the gates were raised too rapidly and the
rushing water washed away 100 feet of the flume.
It was replaced by July, but that was the last
development to take place until the turn of the
In mid-1895 the MID board, on a 4-1 vote with
irrigation opponent W. W. Carter dissenting, called
for an election on a $350,000 bond issue to finance
completion of a system of laterals to serve farms
from the now nearly completed main canal. The
bonds were approved 282-136, just barely the required
two-thirds margin and so much narrower than the
overwhelming 439-78 tally eight years earlier.
Delays caused almost continuous litigation brought
by opponents were breeding disillusionment over
ever getting water to the fields. The bonds went
unsold and the Modesto Irrigation District entered
a long period of inaction as the opponents took
control of the board.
About all that happened from 1896 through 1900
was that the canal work completed during the first
half of the decade deteriorated.