Reclamation Service Letter

Denver, CO., April 29, 1904

Mr. F. H. Newell,
Chief Engineer, U.S.R.S.
Washington, D.C.


The undersigned have examined the locality plans and estimates of the Belle Fourche Project, as surveyed and designed by Mr. R. F. Walter, and have to submit the following report:

The Project contemplates the diversion of Belle Fourche River into a large conduit, to carry it to a reservoir to be constructed on Dry Creek, from which it is to be conducted in canals, to irrigate large tracts of land in the valleys on both sides of Belle Fourche River, as far east as Willow Creek.

The lands to be irrigated are very productive, but a considerable portion are rolling, making distribution of irrigation waters rather expensive. No very difficult engineering problems are presented, the most serious being the floating ice that occurs, and must be safely handled every spring.

The limit of the project is the available water supply, upon which the data is very meager, consisting only of measurements since last June, during which time the rainfall in the basin as indicated by the records was far above normal. For these reasons, we have directed a survey of a diversion of the Little Missouri into the Belle Fourche, and have so modified the designs of the system, as to provide for the use of the waters of Crow, Owl, Indian and Horse Creeks. We have also directed a reconnaissance of the Belle Fourche and Little Missouri basins, to discover possible storage facilities, to regulate the freshets that would otherwise exceed the capacity of the inlet canal. With the waters of the Little Missouri and the creeks mentioned, we are of the opinion, that the available water supply is ample for the irrigation of not less than 60,000 acres of land, and on this basis, the cost as at present estimated, would be about $34 per acre, which may be diminished by increasing the acreage, if cheap storage can be found above.

We consider the project feasible, and recommend the Mr. Walter be instructed to continue the investigations, and to prepare plans and specifications preparatory to early construction.

We also recommend that the Honorable The Secretary of the Interior be requested to give his preliminary approval to the Belle Fourche Project, and that the sum of $2,100,000 be set aside in the reclamation fund for its construction.

When departmental approval is obtained, we recommend that the land owners under the proposed system be informed, and advised to form an organization which can deal with the department, in arranging details to conform with the law. About one-half the land to be irrigated is in private ownership, and the balance public land.

Signed: A.P. Davis, Asst. Chief Engr.
J. H. Quinton, Consulting Engr.

Last Updated: 7/1/15