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what a celebration it was! Starting upon the arrival
of Governor and Mrs. George C. Pardee at 8 o?clock
the evening of Friday, April 21, 1904, and the
lighting of hundreds of electric lights strung
through the streets to make the City of Modesto
as bright as day, the three-day celebration included
speeches, concerts, grand balls, athletic contests
and excursions. The entire city was decked out
in flags and bunting of green, orange and purple,
the jubilee?s official colors.
Sixty newspapers from throughout the state and
nation sent reporters to cover the event that
drew national attention. Excerpts from the two
special dispatches sent by the reporter from the
San Francisco Chronicle give a first hand,
on-the-scene account of the festivities:
MODESTO, April 22 (1904)- "The wedding of the
land and the water," that is the way Lincoln L.
Dennett gave terse expression to the keynote of
the jubilee in this little city when the formal
functions were initiated this afternoon. The Governor
emphasized the happy expression when he came to
speak officially for California, and tonight several
thousand visitors joined with residents of Modesto
and Turlock Irrigation Districts in toasting the
union and prophesying that it will be a long and
When the town retired at midnight last night,
heavy clouds threatened, but the morning broke
fair and cool, with a sunny sky above and no rain
to mar the festivities and set the color running
in the tri-color bunting which covers stores and
houses ? the orange for citrus products, the purple
for the Smyrna figs and the green for the alfalfa
crops which come five times a year.
The town was never more noisier, never more crowded
and never before joyous. By trains, regular and
special, automobiles and teams, new delegations
to the festival have been pouring in since early
morning from many counties. When the special cars
from San Francisco arrived with the State Board
of Trade and the California Production Committee,
the scene of animation reached its height and
this first successful large irrigation district
realized in a wink how fully its own joy is shared
by the great promotive organizations of California?
The formal opening of the jubilee was in a sylvan
setting. Thousands of men and women filled benches
which had been erected on the grass under the
monstrous trees in the courthouse park. The Third
Artillery Band played for an hour and then Governor
Pardee arrived from a drive with his wife and
others in the carriage of state festooned with
the official festival colors.
L. L. Dennett said that this was the celebration
of the wedding of the land and water, just as
Venice used to celebrate it. Governor Pardee emphasized
the truth of Dennett?s words and expressed officially
the pleasure of the citizens of California at
what has been accomplished in the Modesto-Turlock
joint irrigation districts.
Then the jubilee was on as per the card. While
people crowded forward to shake hands with the
Executive, a salute was fired and rockets burst
into clouds of color in the sky. Adjutant General
Lauck reviewed the battalion of National Guardsmen
in camp here, under the command of Major Edward
James of Fresno. Company A of Stockton, under
Lieutenant F. A. Spencer; Company B of Stockton,
under Lieutenant Charles E. Hill; Company H of
Merced, under Captain J. R. Graham, and Company
D of Modesto, under Captain W. C. Grove, maneuvered
in fine order.
Illumination of the City
At 8 o?clock came the grand illumination of the
city. Thousands of lights, which were strung today
to add to the effect, blazed across streets and
over buildings. The grim outline of the big courthouse
was marked with yellow lines. On the lawns and
at the doors of residences soft Oriental lanterns
swung in the breeze. The heavens blazed with the
rockets and bombs. This day has been something
of a triumph for certain men who have fought the
battle for systematic irrigation in Northern California
Upon the streets today was C. C. Wright, author
of the law under which the Modesto-Turlock district
has developed, the first thoroughly successful
of its kind. Another visitor was Henry W. Cowell
of Manteca, who with the late N. M. Harrold, sunk
$400,000 in constructing the Stanislaus irrigation
canal in the southeastern part of San Joaquin
County, the brinking of the money market leaving
both men bankrupt just as the canal was completed.
Harrold died in penury and Cowell is just beginning
to recoup. His faith has never wavered.
Will S. Green of Colusa, the veteran irrigation
expert of the Sacramento Valley, is here, prophesying
a similar public rejoicing within his own section
within five years. Judge J. A. Waymire who, has
spent his private fortune to save the Modesto-Turlock
district at a critical moment, says he is repaid
in results, if not yet in coin.
Fine Lesson For Visitors
The visitor is met with the facts. He is told
how the diverting of water down the south side
of the Tuolumne River from La Grange to the Turlock
canal has brought salvation to 176,000 acres and
how the Modesto canal down the north side of the
river has brought new life to 81,183 acres. Land
has increased in value from $60 to $70 per acre
and productiveness has increased a hundredfold?
At the park tonight, T. C. Hocking gave the substantial
reason for the jubilee in a neat speech. P. H.
Griffin spoke on behalf of Stanislaus County.
Governor Pardee delivered an address upon the
great work of irrigation which the state has before
it and declared that other districts will profit
immensely by the example of this one. Will S.
Green, Elwood Mead, Ed E. Leake and C. C. Wright
also made brief addresses. The evening closed
with grand balls in the Armory and Rogers Hall.
Stanislaus Treats Her
Guests to an Excursion
Through the Great Canal Districts
MODESTO, April 23 (1904) ? That
water is wealth was the principle which the visiting
participants in the Modesto-Turlock irrigation
jubilee had expounded to them yesterday from a
rostrum by men who knew, but it was the ocular
demonstration furnished the visitors today which
captivated their reason and aroused their enthusiasm.
By far the most impressive feature of this gay
celebration and flow of oratory was the excursion
which this morning carried 30 railroad cars filled
with visitors from other portions of the state
over the twin districts which are divided by the
two main canals and their laterals into great
rectangles of Eden-like fertility. The very appearance
of water-dependent orchards and alfalfa patches,
whose crops come only with a flooding miles from
any natural stream, was an eloquent tribute to
the accomplishments of money, faith and dauntless
"It is like a dream fulfilled," said General
N. P. Chipman, president of the State Board of
Trade. "It is amazing and wonderful," said Ed
E. Leake of Woodland. "It is the clean-cut, successful
example for the Sacramento Valley to follow,"
said General Will S. Green, president of the Sacramento
Valley Development Association. "It is not new
to me," said Judge J. A. Waymire, "for it has
been my hope and my gospel for years."
Others added for him that it had been so thoroughly
his dream that he had cheerfully put it everything
he possessed to make the scheme a success. In
town the crowds enjoyed the military parade, concerts,
fireworks, a review of the troops, an athletic
field-day, addressed by distinguished speakers
and two grand balls at night; but it was the visit
to the cause of all of this rejoicing that won
the praise and hearts of all for Stanislaus County
and its enterprise.
the town retired late last night, more people
than could be accommodated were on hand when the
two special trains prepared to leave the depot
this morning at 8:30. The visitors were first
carried northward across the Modesto Irrigation
District to the San Joaquin line. In the laterals
which were crossed, the water had been running
for only three months, and yet the first fruits
of irrigation are already apparent. Wherever a
strip of wheat has been reached, the grain shows
a darker green, denoting its superior quantity
and quality. Whole farms divided by the check
levees into alfalfa patches are already producing
the valuable fodder. In a hundred fields, the
visitors saw men with scrapers throwing up the
low dikes about the land which has borne a crop
of wheat for the last time.
The fresh paint of new homes glistened everywhere.
Ripon and Salida, which have been towns in hardly
more than name, are being converted by carpenters
and masons into extensive centers. The trains
traversed the distance back to Modesto and moved
on southward through the Turlock district. Three
years of canals and laterals have given this district
a great lead. Some of the water-born orchards
are already beginning to bear. The alfalfa flourishes
from a deep root. Whole tracts of Calimyrna fig
trees are shooting out branches.
Vegetable gardens and flower gardens surround
the comfortable country homes. In the shade of
oak, sleek herds of dairy cows chew the cud and
dream of pasture aplenty. Two large creameries
are to be seen and the visitors learned that the
twin districts, which five years ago imported
all their butter from San Francisco, passed the
million-pound mark with their dairy products export
in 1903, while this year?s gain is estimated at
Some of the excursionists left the train at Ceres,
four miles south of Modesto, for a drive through
the tracts given over wholly to figs. Those who
went to Turlock with the train saw a town which
is having a phenomenal growth and a great area
which is coming under a new sort of cultivation
through the work of the Swedish Colony. In 1902
the first Swedish family arrived from Iowa. Now
200 Swedish families comprising, 1,100 industrious
people till farms of from 20 to 40 acres, which
they purchased at $25 an acre and which are now
worth twice as much.
The citizens of Turlock had decorated the town
in honor of the visit. Secretary L. M. Fletcher
of the State Board of Trade, who had been placed
in charge of the excursion, was escorted to the
place of public gathering and crowned with the
identical silk hat which Bob Fitzsimmons wore
upon arrival in this country from Australia. Secretary
Fletcher proudly bore away the tall tile, which
had been appropriately draped with the national
colors. W. J. Higgins, assistant trainmaster of
the division, catered to the wishes of his passengers
in halting the trains wherever requested so that
points of construction in the laterals and diversion
ditches could be studied.
The return to Modesto was made in time for lunch,
and on the way through town the visitors stopped
to watch the water flowing through the model of
the La Grange Dam and canals, which gives a fine
idea of the big engineering achievement and shows
how 1,920 cubic inches of water per second is
started out for distribution over the two districts.
The military parade drew the throngs to the sidewalk
again and a review of the battalion by Governor
Pardee followed, before the departure of the executive
and his wife for Sacramento on the afternoon train.
General Lauck, Colonel Handy, Colonel Weineker,
Colonel Whitmore, and other officers in showy
uniforms lent dignity to the review. W. H. Hatton
presided over the exercises under the trees in
the park. A children?s chorus, the splendidly
drilled adult chorus of Modesto and a double quartet
rendered appropriate songs.
Judge Waymire told of the struggle which had
been crowned with success at last, and also dwelt
upon the importance of the visit of the California
promotion committee and the State Board of Trade
to the districts at this time.
"They will help you in bringing here the people
to reap the harvests upon this rejuvenated soil,"
said the speaker. Colonel John P. Irish told how
C. C. Wright, then a young attorney of Modesto,
had come to him with his idea of a great system
of irrigation and his plan for the law, now known
as the Wright irrigation law, by which the formation
of successful irrigation districts would become
possible. He delineated the long struggle with
prejudice and hard times and eulogized its final
results. Mayor C. C. Williams of Stockton expressed
the pride which the Queen City of the San Joaquin
Valley feels in Modesto?s great accomplishment.
A re-illumination of the city with the new current
from Knights Ferry and another pyrotechnic display
ushered in the closing night of the jubilee. F.
A. Cressey presided over the exercises at the
brilliantly lighted park. General N. O. Chipman
spoke on behalf of the State Board of Trade and
President Benjamin Ide Wheeler of the University
of California made an address in which he prophesied
a sometime population of 10,000,000 for the San
Joaquin Valley. Other speakers were Dr. Washington
Dodge, assessor of San Francisco, Will S. Green,
Professor H. Morse Stephens of the University
of California and C. C. Wright, father of the
Wright irrigation law, who was warmly received.
Hamiliton Wright spoke for California promotion
committee, and the whole evening was marked with
enthusiasm, the visitors having come to share
the feelings of the residents to a marked degree.
The Third Artillery Band rendered music, supplemented
by local singers. Balls at Armory and Plato?s
The visitors began leaving this afternoon and
early trains tomorrow will convey away all of
them who do not remain to join the excursion to
the La Grange Dam. With one accord the visitors
are expressing in speeches and privately their
enthusiasm over irrigation as it is shown here
and the gratitude for the magnificent hospitality
of Modesto which has made their sojourn an uninterrupted
delight. The local committees are more than pleased
with the outcome of the jubilee.
The logistic problem faced by a community of
2,500 hosting an estimated 5,000 visitors for
two days did not dismay the people of Modesto
Working through a Modesto Board of Trade committee
headed by George McCabe, Modesto found ways to
solve all difficulties, building "short order
restaurants" on vacant lots, bringing in extra
Pullman cars and encouraging home owners to take
in guests to ease the burden on overloaded hotels.
The electricity for the street lighting display
was brought in especially from Knights Ferry.
A steam merry-go-round from Stockton was a favorite
with the children. Railroads provided round-trip
tickets for one-way fares and advertised the jubilee
from Bakersfield northward to the Oregon border.
Five thousand oranges were purchased at $15 per
1,000 from orchards in Knights Ferry to be given away as samples of the fruits of irrigated land.
A working model of La Grange Dam and the upper
works of the canal system was built and put on
It was quite a party. Nothing like it has been
seen since in the town which today has grown to
more than 140,000 people, a growth which was forecast
April 22, 1904, by Professor Elwood Mead of the
U. S. Department of Agriculture, who declared
in his tribute to the two districts:
The great material benefits which are to
come to the tillers of these fields are
not, however, the best features of these
districts. It is of greater moment that
land and water are here united; that the
users of the water control it; that the
people and the evils and dangers of water
monopoly are here impossible.
Following the Jubilee, the California Promotion
Committee, based in San Francisco, which had attended
the celebration en masse, wrote a piece that was
much quoted throughout the nation. It concluded:
Much has been done in Modesto, and water
? just plain water ? is the foundation stone
of it all. Much remains to be done and for
years the process of evolution will continue.
But the new order of things has come to
stay, and in a few years water, nature?s
first aid, will have made "old Stanislaus"
one of the garden spots of the most favored
of all lands, California.
Indeed, as a weary but happy Modesto awoke the
morning of Sunday, April 24, 1904, the work was
just beginning in that region, which the New
York Sunday World in a special California
edition had referred to as the "Western Valley
of the Nile."
But, the primary task of uniting the land and
the water had been achieved.