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Post by Guest on Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:21 pm

As the United States developed the Southwest, the Colorado River was seen as a potential source of irrigation water. An initial attempt at diverting the river for irrigation purposes occurred in the late 1890s, when land speculator William Beatty built a canal just north of the Mexican border; the canal dipped into Mexico before running to a desolate area Beatty named the Imperial Valley.[5] Though water from the Imperial Canal allowed for the widespread settlement of the valley, the canal proved expensive to maintain. In 1906–07, the Southern Pacific Railroad spent $3 million to stabilize the waterway, an amount it hoped vainly would be reimbursed by the Federal Government, after a catastrophic breach that caused the Colorado River to fill the Salton Sea.[6] Even after the waterway was stabilized, it proved unsatisfactory because of constant disputes with landowners on the Mexican side of the border.[7]


River view of the eventual site of Hoover Dam, circa 1904
As the technology of electric power transmission improved, the Lower Colorado was considered for its hydroelectric power potential. In 1902, the Edison Electric Company of Los Angeles surveyed the river in the hope of building a 40-foot (12 m) rock dam which could generate 10,000 horsepower (7,500 kW). However, at the time, the limit of transmission of electric power was 80 miles (130 km), and there were few customers (mostly mines) within that limit. Edison allowed land options it held on the river to lapse—including an option for what became the site of Hoover Dam.[8]





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