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Engineering NatureWater, Development, and the Global Spread of American Environmental Expertise$
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Jessica B. Teisch

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834435

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807878019_teisch

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Lessons of Valuable Experience

Lessons of Valuable Experience

What California Learned From India

(p.17) Chapter 1 Lessons of Valuable Experience
Engineering Nature

Jessica B. Teisch

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter shows how the American government chartered or subsidized many of the nation's early enterprises, including interstate railroads. Yet it showed little support for irrigation development in California, even when agriculture began to surpass mining as the state's predominant industry in the 1870s. Individuals and private companies built ditches and canals to carry water to their dry fields. Such unregulated private development, while dynamic for the mining industry, produced chaotic results for irrigation. California's water laws allowed irrigators to monopolize water to the detriment of other users. The shortage of capital and labor as well as battles among miners, farmers, and ranchers also hindered irrigators' projects. To establish the scientific and technical feasibility of irrigation, public officials examined private irrigation works in California's Great Valley and discussed ways to aid farmers and irrigators.

Keywords:   American government, interstate railroads, irrigation development, California, agriculture, mining

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