Eagle Point Irrigation District began it's journey on August 21st, 1915, when the State of Oregon granted EPID water rights from Big Butte Creek. As the story goes, the District was established on April 15th 1919 by Waldemar Hammel, James Spencer, William Perry & Wilbur Jacks. These gentleman went on and formed a committee among the local farmers of Eagle Point to create the district boundaries.
The Board proceeded to hire Ralph Cowgill graduate of Washington State & Frank Dillard graduate of University of Oregon to engineer the creation of the canal & laterals. To put the plans into action , William Vonderhellen was awarded the contract to construct the main canal, laterals , flumes & bridges . The district hired 3 crews of laborers , consisting of around 20 local men to complete the project. Many of the crew members were family & friends.
In the early stages of the district, a board members life was cut short in September of 1921. Wilbur Jacks was shot in the back side on Main Street of Eagle Point, by a local resident & patron of the district. With Mr. Jacks gone , the district needed to fill the vacancy on the board by January 1922, the newly elected officer was Mr. Fred Pettegrew , a long time resident of Eagle Point.
Once all laterals and flumes were completed the district diverted water for the first time from Big Butte Creek on April 29th 1924 . Just a few weeks later, EPID sent the first round of water through the Nichols Gap on May 17th at 9:05 P.M.
Construction of the wooden flume stretching across Brownsboro Hwy & Little Butte Creek began in the spring of 1924, bringing water to the south east part of the valley. This project took a little over two weeks to complete.
By the mid 20's the district purchased a few motor vehicles, but it did come with some set backs. The vehicles were not made for the rough terrain and were always breaking down. In May 1925 an axle broke on one truck while working at a break in the canal. A short time later a crank shaft broke on another. If that wasn’t enough damage, another district truck got totaled, when another gentleman crashed into the district truck while stopped at a stop sign. As the motor vehicles were not an asset to everyone working for the district, EPID set up a camp near the work site. Each camp consisted of a cook , and the manager would go shopping each week for the necessities like bread, bacon & eggs. The crew members made $4.50 per day
As crops grew around the valley, so did the need for water. In the summer of 1936 the district was running out of water, not sure if they would have enough for the rest of the season. The ground was dry and crops were not producing a great amount of product. When water stops flowing, so does the cash flow of the farmers. So the District decided to barter with many of the farmers who couldn’t pay for irrigation. The Worthington brothers paid half the bill with 14 head of hogs and 30 tons of alfalfa hay. The hay was used to feed the horses working along the canal, Mr. Gossett paid half his irrigation with 10 head of cows, while Marshall Minter paid his with a ford tractor.