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Chuck Johnson, Fairbanks, AK, is the winner!

Water right claims for Week 378 of Orofino History Trivia a special feature to celebrate the history and heritage of Clearwater Country.

Join in the discovery!

Monday: Seems so simple but is so important

Tuesday: Sometimes was worth more than gold

Wednesday: People laid claim to it and still do today.

Water rights could be as valuable as gold to the hill and gulch miners during the Pierce Gold Rush. Men who had these claims did not have water brought to them like those who had creek claims, according to John H. Bradbury's Clearwater County History series.

Some miners were able to secure the water rights and built ditches of their own big enough to bring the water to claims. That sometimes took several weeks, depending on the distance from a water source.

Men such as Israel Cowen and Cyrus T. Nelson had the shrewd insight to figure out the value of the water supply and acquired legal rights to the water they could supply to miners. Then they dug a major ditch to carry the water to individual claims. The ditches were two feet deep, two feet wide at the bottom and three feet wide at the top. Smaller ditches called races would then carry the water to individual claims.

Nelson, a successful Walla Walla, WA rancher, built his ditches along the ridge that separated Rhodes Creek and Canal Gulch. Cowan, who later was renowned as a judge and legislator, chose to build his along both sides of Oro Fino Creek, Bradbury said.

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Window on the Clearwater
P.O. Box 2444
Orofino, ID 83544
Phone: 1-208-476-0733
Fax: 1-208-476-4140