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Volume 08, Number 6, June 1895, Page 186 - 187
THE committee appointed to visit the site of the Plymouth Colony in Idaho have returned to Chicago and made a full report of their investigations. The committee found that the resources and possibilities had been somewhat under estimated and they are all very well pleased with the prospect. The following is a brief abstract of their lengthy report:
"The colony site is on the second bench above the Payette river, about four miles in a direct line from Washoe and six miles from Payette. The land is covered with the sage brush about four feet high, and there are no indications of alkali. The soil is loam with a slight admixture of sand. It varies from ten to thirty feet deep. Some of the principal irrigation laterals have been built and a little of the sage brush burnt off, but the colonists must calculate on having to clear away the sage brush and build most of the laterals. The expense of building the main laterals will be about $20 a mile, or $2.00 for each 20-acre tract. The small ditches can be made with a plow. The colony site is entirely free from stones of any kind except those which are dug from wells, The drinking water from the wells on the colony site is cool and soft, The wells average forty feet deep and cost about $1.00 a foot to dig without being curbed. Curbing seems to be unnecessary. About 120 acres of the colony tract are now being planted in corn, and 180 acres of orchard has been planted this year on the bench.
"The water supply for the colony is obtained from the Payette river, which is a large stream rising about 120 miles above the tract in the Sawtooth mountains. The volume of water at its lowest stage is sufficient to irrigate 240,000 acres, whereas, not more than 80,000 acres are susceptible of irrigation in this valley. The head gates and banks of the canal are substantially constructed, and it was fully completed in 1893. The Plymouth committee investigated prices of land adjoining the colony tract, and find that in all cases it is valued much higher than it is proposed to sell this land to colonists."
"The climate was found to be dry and healthful, and Dr. Delano, in charge of the substation of the U.S. Weather Bureau, stated to the committee that the warmest day since the station was located, six years ago, was in August 1894, at which time the thermometer registered 110 degrees, and the same night it was 68 degrees, which was also the wannest night. The coldest day during the same period was 20 above zero, and the coldest night 8 below zero. The first killing frost in 1894 was October 7th, but after this for six weeks the temperature did not reach the freezing point. The committee traveled about sixty miles up the valley in an open buggy, with the thermometer standing at 85 degrees in the shade, without any particular discomfort. When in the shade they found it delightfully cool and pleasant. The committee found the markets were practically unlimited, as the colonists would be able to dispose of their products in the numerous mining towns in the vicinity. Mr. A. B. Moss, the leading merchant of Payette, estimated that over eighty car loads of canned goods are shipped into Canyon County and the four counties adjoining, every year."
There are large forests at the head of the Payette river, and lumber can be obtained for about $10 per thousand feet for common, and $20 per thousand for the best flooring, etc. Cordwood in quantities is worth about $3 per cord. The coal fields are found to be only slightly developed, though a tunnel about 200 feet long has been driven under the hill, with a side drift thirty feet long. The veins vary from a few inches to four feet in thickness.
A number of the settlers of the valley were interviewed, and some of them state that they arrived several years ago with but $25 in money and no other property. After working at various occupations for a year or two and saving a few hundred dollars, they bought places of their own and now have orchards started and are making a good living. On Mr. Schmidt's farm seven hogs and eleven sucking pigs were seen living on a half acre of alfalfa, with no other food except leavings from the table."
"The committee revised the figures on the cost of farming implements, clearing and cultivating land, building a house and planting seeds and trees. They found that $850 instead of $1,000 would be amply sufficient."
"They are particularly pleased with the plan of the association in farm villages and the establishment of allied industries, as these are especially adapted to avoid the discomforts and hardships incident to locating in a new country, and insuring a market for the products of the farms and orchards."
I have been growing garden vegetables for family use for four years past by the aid of well water.
My soil is dark sandy foam.
The well is twenty-five feet deep, and water is raised by means of an ordinary force pump, with 3 and a quarter x 14-inch cylinder driven by an eight-foot steel Perkins mill.
The first two years the garden was confined to a plot, 50 x 50 feet square, fenced in to protect it from the chickens.
This was "new" ground and was heavily fertilized with stable manure and wood ashes. The ground slopes a very little toward the north and the things were planted in rows north and south. There were onions, peas, beans, lettuce, radishes, peppers, tomatoes and cabbages.
The ground was literally covered with plants.
The water was made to flow along the upper side of the garden and then down between the rows of vegetables. The water was allowed to run until the ground was wet. As soon as the surface was dry enough to permit we gave it a hoeing to loosen up the surface. This was found to be very necessary, until the cabbage and tomatoes got big enough to shade the ground, then the hoeing was necessarily omitted among them. The cabbages and tomatoes occupied each one fourth of the ground and were a sight to see. The cabbage heads, not leaves, touched each other along the rows. The tomatoes began ripening in June and continued till after frost. During the better part of the season we gathered an ordinary water bucket full of tomatoes per day.
Since then I have tried watering on larger patches of cabbage and on sweet and Irish potatoes, and have had fair crops, when those on unirrigated land were total failures.
Last season, 1894, we set out 1,000 cabbage plants. The ground was very dry, dusty in fact, as deep as it had been plowed.
When ready to set the plants, I took a common twelve-inch plow and turning well over to the land side, laid the patch off in furrows. Then turned the water into the furrow and let it flow to the lower end. By beginning at the lower end and making little check dams with the hoe, I soon had the furrow full or water. When this had settled I set the plants in the mud and drew the dry dirt around them with the hoe. These plants were set in the afternoon and not protected from the sun the next day, but they never wilted and hardly stopped growing at all.
Without water gardens are poor property here, but every one who has a good well can have all the garden "truck" the family can consume and can also gather in many an extra dollar from the surplus.
It seems to me that one mistake we Kansans make is in not trying this matter in a small way. There are many farmers who, when asked about the matter, say; "O, yes, we would irrigate if we could water 80 or 100 acres, so it would amount to something;" and these same men buy their potatoes, tomatoes, cabbages and such stuff at the store, and their families have to do without the more dainty and desirable fruits and vegetables.
We have good soil and sunshine to spare; all we need is an awakening of our farmers to the wonders that can he accomplished by applying water and energy to the soil. This would, on a very small plat of ground, furnish a living, and then the cattle and wheat would make us rich.
W. V. JACKSON
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