Eagle Point Irrigation District began it's journey on August 21st, 1915, when the State of Oregon granted the water rights from Big Butte Creek. As the story goes, the District wasn't officially established until April 15th, 1919 by Waldemar Hammel, James Spencer, William Perry & Wilbur Jacks. These gentleman went on to form a committee among the local land owners and created the district boundaries we have today.
The Board proceeded to hire engineer Ralph P. Cowgill, graduate of Washington State & Frank Dillard a then recent graduate of University of Oregon. These two men mapped out, staked, soil tested the whole district making sure the canal & laterals from Butte Falls to Eagle Point were in tip top shape to carry 100 CFS of water.
To put the plans into action , William Vonderhellen & Ed Dahack were awarded the contract to construct the main canal, laterals , flumes & bridges . To get these projects completed in a timely manner, the district hired 3 crews of laborers. Each crew consisting of around 20 local men. The crews had a strict deadline of August 1924, to have the canal and laterals completed by the State of Oregon.
The district had the canal and laterals finished a good 5 months ahead of schedule. On April 29th 1924 water was diverted for the first time from Big Butte Creek . The following month, the district sent the first round of water through the Nichols Gap on May 17th at 9:05 P.M. The men were definitely testing the waters, because just 5 days later a land slide occurred , wiping out a large portion of the canal. Water was then shut off for the next two weeks repairing the damages. (see images for below)
By the 1950’s the district was pretty established. Much of the wooden flumes had been replaced with steel. Ditch riders no longer rode horses. The district had equipment to clean ditches. That doesn't mean problems didn't occur. Canal breaks still existed, but each time a break happened , that section was either piped or gunited. The summer months also included some mischievous fishermen, they found a way to plug up the fish wheel, stealing fish and occasionally pulling spill boards too. This issue caused water to be down a good 24 hours each time though out the years.
EPID had many large orchards in the district in the early years. One of the biggest, Wilfley Orchard, located near Ball & Brophy road (Now Trayhnam Ranches) and the Alta Vista Orchard, which is now the EP golf course.
Water wasn’t the only thing EPID sold. Manager Ted Seaman purchased property for the district,. EPID would advertise in the local papers like the Mail Tribune & Eagle Point Herald. The advertising worked great, as many farmers from the plains flocked to the area purchasing irrigated farm land.