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Dalton Gardens is a privately developed project 2 miles north of Coeur d`Alene, Idaho, and 30 miles east of Spokane, Washington, on the eastern edge of the extensive Spokane Valley plain, known as Rathdrum Prairie. The project`s irrigation works include a pumping plant, equalizing reservoir and main line, and a distribution system that has been reconstructed to supply approximately 980 acres of land with an adequate sprinkler irrigation water supply. The project was rehabilitated by the Bureau of Reclamation in 1954-1955. Additional pipe rehabilitation work was completed in 1962-1964.
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The water supply for the project is pumped from Hayden Lake, which has a drainage area of 62 square miles with an estimated average annual inflow of 45,000 acre-feet. Three small irrigation districts, Avondale, Dalton Gardens, and Hayden Lake, were using water from the lake.
At the beginning of the 1955 irrigation season the old facilities, with the exception of the pumphouse structure, were abandoned and the new facilities were placed in operation for the Dalton Gardens Irrigation District. The new facilities, constructed by the Bureau of Reclamation, were a remodeled pumping plant, new equalizing reservoir, main line, and distribution system.
Because of severe corrosion problems in some portions of the steel pipe distribution system, rehabilitation of the distribution system was reauthorized in 1961. The steel discharge pipe and the larger diameter pipe in the steel distribution system were mortar lined. The smaller, lightweight pipe in the distribution system was replaced with asbestos cement pipe.
The project is operated and maintained by the Dalton Gardens Irrigation District.
Settlement of the Rathdrum Prairie area began in the 1860`s after Mullan Road was rerouted around the northern end of Lake Coeur d`Alene. This primitive military and commercial thoroughfare was a link for the traffic between the Missouri and Columbia Rivers. Fort Sherman was established as a way-station on this road in 1878 at the site of the city of Coeur d`Alene. The first extensive agriculture on Rathdrum Prairie resulted from the existence of this fort. It created a market for livestock feed, as about 100 Army horses and mules were kept there.
Logging, mining, and construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad brought more settlers in during the 1880`s, and further expanded the market for local agricultural products. Although numerous irrigation schemes were promoted during the 1890`s to stimulate land sales, little in the way of irrigation construction was accomplished until after 1900. The Dalton Gardens development was one of several small irrigation ventures in this vicinity during 1900-1910. It was developed in small tracts as a fruit-raising area. The distribution system was built by a private company and put into operation in 1905. In 1917, the company was reorganized as an irrigation district.
The Dalton Gardens Irrigation District had been regarded by the Bureau of Reclamation as a possible unit of a much larger potential development known as the Rathdrum Prairie Project. The Eastern Division of the project consisted of three small irrigation districts that pumped their water supply from Hayden Lake: Dalton Gardens, Avondale, and Hayden Lake. In early 1953, each district submitted its separate plan for reconstruction to the Congress, and it was decided to proceed with the work on the basis of separate projects rather than risk further delay by pressing for the larger development. Separate reconstruction was authorized with the Avondale Irrigation District forming the Avondale Project, the Dalton Gardens Irrigation District, the Dalton Gardens Project, and the Hayden Lake Irrigation District becoming a `unit` of the Rathdrum Prairie Project.
The Interior Department Appropriation Act, 1954, the Act of July 31, 1953 (67 Stat. 261, Public Law 83-172) authorized the emergency rehabilitation of the Dalton Gardens Project. Further emergency pipe rehabilitation was authorized by the Act of September 22, 1961 (75 Stat. 588, Public Law 87-289). The authorized project purpose is irrigation.
Rehabilitation of the irrigation works began June 11, 1954, and was completed on April 28, 1955. Emergency pipe rehabilitation work began in 1962 and was completed in 1964.
Although fruit production was the major enterprise during the early years, there has been a gradual shift to pasture and hay crops. Most of the farm units are operated on a part-time basis.