Fri, Nov. 26

VERDE HERITAGE: 1929: Verde River Dam a Probability

"Reports from Phoenix indicate that the long-debated dam in the Verde River, just below Camp Verde, for the irrigation of something near 80,000 acres of land below the dam, will become an actuality in the near future."

"If and when this proposed dam is built, the principal part of the acreage to be irrigated will be in Paradise Valley, northeast of Phoenix. The valley extends from Scottsdale northwestward, a distance of about thirty miles. Other land along the river, north of Paradise Valley, also will come in for water. In its report of a meeting of the factions interested in the project, the 'Arizona Republican' says:"

"Confidence of the final ratification of the co-operative contract for the development of the Verde River Irrigation and Power district between the district and the Salt River Valley Water Users association, was expressed last night at a meeting of landowners of the district. Nearly 150 Verde district landowners and interested Phoenix business men attended the meeting."

"In their talks, the several speakers at the meeting all dealt with the years of effort which have been put forth to bring about the development of the 80,000 acre Verde district and expressed confidence that ultimate victory would attend the labors of those who have been working to accomplish this end."

"The hardships which those interested in the development of the project have undergone in their efforts to bring about its development were compared to the tribulations which those who first envisioned the building of Roosevelt Dam went through in their efforts to create the fertile Salt River Valley of today."

"A LONG LABORED PROJECT: The Verde project was described as being one of the longest labored undertakings of its kind in the United States."

"The increased prosperity which development of the Verde district would bring to the Salt River Valley also was touched on in several of the talks of the evening."

"Among the speakers at the meeting were Judge R. C. Stanford; P. G. Spilsburg, president of the Arizona Industrial Congress; and J. S. Connell, assistant general superintendent of the Salt River Valley Water Users association."

"Connell told the landholders of the Verde River District last night that the final estimates on the water available for the project had been sent to the headquarters of the reclamation service last Saturday."

"Connell stated that the figure which had been arrived at by D. C. Iackiash, hydraulic engineer for the Department of Reclamation, indicated that 84,200 acres could be irrigated by the water available. If these figures are approved by the government reclamation office, Connell stated, the Water Users' board of governors felt that they would be ready to go ahead and hold a referendum election on the agreement. The agreement has already been passed by the Verde shareholders and approved by the government."

"R. C. Stanford reviewed the history of the project. P. G. Spilsbury[g?] told of the efforts the Industrial Congress had made in Washington last year to get action on the project. Mayor O. D. Betts, Henry Reed and Joe Porter, of Glendale; Tom Murddock; representative M. J. Francis, of the present legislature; and John Bailhache, engineer for the district, were the speakers."

"It was brought out that the 84,200 acres estimated by the government engineer did not take into consideration any water which may be discovered as available from New River and Skunk Creek. These will be surveyed as fast as possible, it was stated. The theme of all talks was that the machinery for officially authorizing the project were going forward as fast as possible at the present time."

(Verde Copper News; Jerome; Tuesday, March 12, 1929; page 1.)

The chances of the Verde Dam project faded when the stock market crashed during October of 1929. The project gained political support as a means of supplying water to the Salt River and Camp McDowell Indian reservations and as a depression-relief project. The Bureau of Reclamation established a field office in Phoenix during February and planned bids for dam construction by June of 1934. The federal project was cancelled a few months later (after 59 years of controversy).

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