Beginning of Irrigation in Terry County
by R. J. Purtell
source: Terry County History Book 2002
My first memory of an irrigation well was on Mr. Schulze's farm in early 1920's. Mr Schulze grew potatoes and sold them from his wagon by the county road in the fall of the year. The amazing thing about the story was Mr. Schulze was blind. He and his family hand dug the well on top of a rise on Arthur Sawyer's farm a mile and a half southwest of town. The well had a two inch centrifugal pump in the bottom to boost the water to the surface. The water was used to furrow water for approximately one or two acres of potatoes.
I dug my firs irrigation well in Terry County in 1941. It was an eight0inch well pumping 1000 gpm with a Lane & Bowler pump purchased from J.B. Knight Company. I used this well in ditch watering fro approximately four or five years. Yields increased, but so did the problems. Ditch watering this sandy soil was nearly impossible because the ditches and furrows would collapse. We then decided that we would try to sprinkle row crops using aluminum pipe and large impact sprinklers.
We purchased 6" X 20' aluminum pipe out of Eugene Oregon. We laid two lines, each a quarter mile long. An eighth inch feeder line was attached to the middle of the quarter mile sprinkler line and flowed 1299 gallons per minute. The sprinkler line carried 80 lbs pressure and applied and acre inch of water per hour. Each sprinkler line was moved every two hours night and day. One line was hand moved while the other one was watering.
After the drought of 1951-1953 sprinkler irrigation was accepted and wells were beginning to be drilled all over the county. This trend continued throughout the 1950's raising our yield expectations from one-half bale to two bales of cotton per acre. Automated irrigation is continuing up until the present time and is the engine that propels the economy of Terry County.