11: Canals as a Money Making Venture

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    In the 1880s, businessmen viewed Valley canals as potential money making opportunities.  The two best examples are William J. Murphy and Dr. Alexander J. Chandler.  These men formed improvement companies which sought to consolidate canal systems on both sides of the Salt River.  Murphy’s Arizona Improvement Company unified several canals on the north, while Chandler’s Mesa Improvement Company consolidated the canal system on the south.  Their efforts created an efficient system that squeezed as much water out of the river as possible.  Businessmen made money from water in three ways: 1) they sold access to the water; 2) they created and sold hydroelectric power; and 3) they developed previously worthless desert land into profitable irrigated agricultural real estate.

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