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Water and American GovernmentThe Reclamation Bureau, National Water Policy, and the West, 1902-1935$
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Donald Pisani

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520230309

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520230309.001.0001

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The Perils of Public Works

The Perils of Public Works

Federal Reclamation, 1902–1909

Chapter:
(p.32) 2 The Perils of Public Works
Source:
Water and American Government
Author(s):

Donald J. Pisani

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520230309.003.0002

This chapter looks at how the idealism of the reclamation crusade slowly died away in the years after 1902. It shows that the structure of American government also limited federal reclamation. It then studies the turf wars that occurred within the federal bureaucracy, such as the turf war between the Interior and Agriculture Departments. One section reviews the Reclamation Service, where it determines that several officials in the Agriculture Department—including Elwood Mead—thought that the Service placed most of its focus on engineering. It also shows that the Service was usually forced to defer to the states. The chapter emphasizes that the Reclamation Act gave hope to both private irrigation companies and large landowners, and uses the stories of Snake River Valley in Idaho and the private project at Twin Falls to demonstrate the triumphs and pitfalls of reclamation and the impact that irrigation had on the creation of towns and communities in the west.

Keywords:   reclamation crusade, federal reclamation, turf wars, federal bureaucracy, Elwood Mead, irrigation, Snake River Valley, Twin Falls

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