03. Improving the Mesa Canal

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    Dr. Chandler believed he could water his newly acquired land by improving the Mesa Canal.  In 1891, after two years of negotiating, Dr. Chandler finally received approval from the Mesa Canal Company to expand the canal to a minimum of 40,000 inches of water and become the new manager of this canal.  To expedite the work of improving the canal, Chandler contracted with the Marion Steam Shovel Company to purchase a medium sized ditching dredger for $10,000, which was put into use that same year.  Dredgers are used for excavating dirt to create new waterways.

    The Marion Steam Dredger was so successful that Dr. Chandler ordered a larger dredger for $25,000.  While at work excavating, the dredgers created a spectacle, drawing local and national attention.  Visitors came to see these desert curiosities at work day and night.  Chandler paid $50 per day for a four man crew and fuel to operate the dredges around the clock.  Thousands of cords of wood were brought from the abandoned Fort McDowell to keep them in operation. 

    The headgate of the Mesa Consolidated Canal was located off the Salt River a few miles north and east of the town of Mesa.  The structure controlled the flow of water from the river into the canal system that fed the Tempe Crosscut, Mesa, and Consolidated Canals.  According to a Mesa Free Press article in 1894, preservative paint designed to last up to 20 years covered all wooden surfaces.  The headgate was 44 feet wide and 24 feet high, with 10 gates to control the flow of water.  The new headgate was a vast improvement over the old headgate made of brush, which had been repeatedly washed out during floods.

    The expansion of the Mesa Canal and expansion of the headgate provided so much additional water that Dr. Chandler was able to create two new canals: one to water his ranch lands to the south and one to provide hydroelectric power and water to Tempe.  These new canals required additional equipment for construction and maintenance.  Chandler purchased a third dredge, a land based steam powered machine, to aid with this work.


    ♦Exhibit Home 04. The Agreement ►


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