Consolidated Canal Company

    A. J. Chandler, D. M. Ferry, and C. C. Bowen incorporated the Consolidated Canal Company in 1892 with offices in Phoenix and Mesa. The Company had $1,000,000 in capital and was tasked with constructing, maintaining, and operating the irrigation system on the south side of the Salt River, including canals, pipelines, gates, and dams.  The photo above shows Dr. Chandler’s house and office on his ranch in Mesa.  Below is the house and office of Consolidated Canal Company irrigation engineer William H. Code.

    The Consolidated Canal was a relative newcomer to the valley and the earlier established canals had first rights to most of the water in the Salt River. During periods of low-water flow, acreage served by the Consolidated Canal received insufficient irrigation. In order to augment the supply, Chandler dug one of the most successful wells in the Salt River Valley.1 To get the water to the surface, he brought the first electric pump to Arizona and operated it with the power from the hydroelectric plant northwest of Mesa.2 The success of the venture caused him to dig several others in succeeding years.3

    Despite the presence of the three dredges, most of the work of excavating the canal system was done by teams of horses pulling fresno scrapers.  The Consolidated Canal construction utilized over 100 teams of horses day and night to accomplish this engineering feat in one year.  This photograph of canal construction on the north side of the Salt River exemplifies the physical labor of both man and beast.  (Photo Courtesy of Salt River Project)

    After a year of construction in 1892, the Consolidated Canal began delivering water on the south side of the Salt River.   In Mesa, the Consolidated Canal branched three ways at a place known as the diversion gates to send water to different parts of the East Valley.  Flowing from the left of this photo is the Mesa Consolidated Canal bringing water from the Salt River to the Diversion Gates.  33,000 inches of water flowed east and south in the Ferry Canal towards Chandler Ranch, an area that had never received that much water.  The smallest canal branching away from this diversion is the Mesa Canal.  Chandler had promised Mesa farmers 7,000 inches of water.  On the right side of this photo is what is called today the Tempe Crosscut Canal.  The Tempe Crosscut Canal also provided hydroelectric power to people living on the south side of the Salt River. (Photo courtesy of Panoramic Photographs, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-136821)

    The Consolidated Canal was a relative newcomer to the valley and the earlier established canals had first rights to most of the water in the Salt River. During periods of low-water flow, acreage served by the Consolidated Canal received insufficient irrigation. In order to augment the supply, Chandler dug one of the most successful wells in the Salt River Valley.1 To get the water to the surface, he brought the first electric pump to Arizona and operated it with the powerfrom the hydroelectric plant northwest of Mesa.2 The success of the venture caused him to dig several others in succeeding years.3

    The business appears in the 1916, 1917, 191819211923 and 1925 Chandler City Directories  with A.J. Chandler as president and Ernest J. Koch as secretary. It was on San Marcos Place. The 1929 directory said Chandler was president and J. E. DeSouza was secretary-treasurer. It was at 2 San Marcos Place, Tel 16 or 25. The  1930 directory said A.J. Chandler was president and gave the same address.

    1The first well was located on the SW 1/4 of Sec. 22, T. 1 S, R. 5 E. The Santa Fe Railroad  transported the well drilling outfit free of charge. Stevens,Robert Conway, The History of Chandler, Arizona, Social Science Buliting No. 25, (Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 1954) p. 19, footnote #27.

    2Stevens,Robert Conway, The History of Chandler, Arizona, Social Science Buliting No. 25, (Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 1954) p. 19

    3Two of these were in the NW 1/4 of Sec. 34, T. 1 S, R. 5 E. within the later townlimits of Chandler. One of these may have been the well located in the park. Stevens,Robert Conway, The History of Chandler, Arizona, Social Science Buliting No. 25, (Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 1954) p. 19, footnote #28.

     


    -The stockholders of the Mesa Improvement Company and the Consolidated Canal Company, and their guests arrived Wednesday for their annual tour in their private car, "Magnet."  The stockholders will have their annual meeting to review the accomplishments of the last year.

    Members of the party include: Dwight Cutler, Lem W. Bowen, Mr. Hooker, Mr. Gillis, Miss Campau, Mr. and Mrs. Backus, Mr. and Mrs. Sarmiento, Mr. and Mrs. Ferry, a nurse and two children.  (Chandler Arizonan 2/7/1913)

     

    Chandler History: Steam dredges dug canals that gave city water, life

    (Published June 19, 2014 in The Arizona Republic. http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/...life/10911051/)

     

    Water always has been an important commodity in the Arizona desert. For nearly 50 years, farmers in the Southeast Valley struggled to water their fields through a primitive and unreliable patchwork of canals.

    When Dr. Alexander J. Chandler arrived in Arizona, he sought to rectify this.

    In 1891, after two years of negotiations, Chandler was awarded a contract to expand the Mesa Canal. At that time, the Mesa Canal was a hand-dug trench that brought water from the Salt River to Mesa, and was cooperatively managed by the farmers that it served. Chandler promised to improve the canal at no cost to the farmers, as long as he could use any excess water gained from the improvements.

    To expedite the work of improving the canal, Chandler contracted with the Marion Steam Shovel Co. to purchase two floating steam-powered dredges. These dredges allowed the canal to be dug to the bedrock, preventing loss of water into the Valley's sandy loamy soil. The same type of dredges later were used in the excavation of the Panama Canal in the early 1900s.

    These technological wonders operated 24 hours a day, creating a spectacle that drew local and national attention. Chandler paid $50 per day for a four-man crew and fuel to operate the machines around the clock. The thousands of cords of wood required to fuel the metal monsters was acquired from dismantling the abandoned Fort McDowell on the Verde River. People flocked to see the dredges in action.

    The expansion of the Mesa Canal provided so much additional water that Chandler was able to create two canals. The first, the Consolidated Canal, took water to the 18,000-acre Chandler Ranch, which ultimately became present-day Chandler.

    Chandler ran the second canal, the Tempe Crosscut Canal, over the edge of the mesa, creating a hydroelectric-power plant that his brother, Harry Chandler, operated. The power plant provided power to the communities of Mesa, Tempe and Chandler.

    After the canals were finished, the dredges were contracted out to expand other canals throughout the Valley. Chandler sold the smaller of the two dredges. The remaining dredge floated on a pond just off the canal near today's Park of the Canals in Mesa. Oral tradition holds that this large dredge sank and still lies buried. Archaeologists, however, have found no evidence of the dredge.

    After the canals were finished, the dredges were contracted out to expand other canals throughout the Valley. Chandler sold the smaller of the two dredges. The remaining dredge floated on a pond just off the canal near today's Park of the Canals in Mesa. Oral tradition holds that this large dredge sank and still lies buried. Archaeologists, however, have found no evidence of the dredge.

    To learn more about Chandler's steam dredges and the canal system they helped create, visit the Chandler Museum.

    Jody Crago is Chandler Museum administrator. Visit the Chandler Museum, 300 S. Chandler Village Drive, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. To learn more about Chandler history: www.chandlerpedia.org, 480-782-2877.

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