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7. Brewster Flats

State of Washington, Brewster Flats: An Irrigation and Land Settlement Development by the Methow-Okanogan Reclamation District. . .
(Olympia, Wash.: Frank M. Lamborn, 1920).

Brewster Flats is a remarkable body of land, about 11,000 acres in extent, situated in Okanogan County, Washington, overlooking the confluence of the Columbia and Okanogan Rivers. Superior soil and unusually favorable climatic conditions give to this district the distinction of being especially adapted to the production of quality apples, and all deciduous fruits and berries. These facts are demonstrated by the seventeen hundred acres within the district now in bearing orchards, from which were picked the apples which won the grand sweepstakes prize at the Panama-Pacific Exposition at San Francisco.

Brewster Flats is one unit of the Methow-Okanogan Reclamation District, on which extensive surveys and investigations have been made by the Washington State Reclamation Service. The other units are Okanogan, Reservation and Pateros, and the Brewster Flats unit is the one scheduled for first development.

The seventeen hundred acres now in orchard have received a water supply, inadequate even for this small area, from a small reservoir in the hills. The only water supply adequate for these orchards and for the additional 9,000 acres in this unit is in the Methow River, which is separated from this unit by a spur of the mountains.


The plan for obtaining this wholly adquate water supply for the Brewster Flats unit, as adopted by the Reclamation Service, after exhaustive investigations, is to divert the water from the Methow River, a large stream heading in the mountains, draining an extensive watershed, at the town of Twisp. This diverted water is to be conducted for six miles through a concrete lined canal and reinforced concrete flumes to a point near

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Silver. Here it will enter a rock tunnel 14.3 miles in length, which will pierce a neck in the mountain range between the Methow and Okanogan valleys, and will deliver the water on the Okanogan side at the upper end of the Brewster Flats unit. From the mouth of the tunnel the water will be carried southerly through concrete lined canals, reinforced concrete flumes, and a substantial lateral and distribution system to every legal subdivision (40 acres) of irrigable lands.

The water supply available, based upon United States Geological Survey records since 1903, will be ample at all times. The tunnel and canal system is planned for a capacity of delivering to the land 10 acre inches per acre per month of maximum demand. The system throughout is to be substantial and as nearly permanent as possible.


The estimated construction period, because of the great length of the tunnel, is six years, and the estimates for construction cost vary between $300 and $350 per acre. The general plan of development and construction estimates have been reviewed and approved by a special engineering commission composed of D. C. Henny, O. L. Waller and A. J. Wiley.

The cost per acre is so great as compared to other projects built in times before the war, that the ordinary method of financing wholly by the sale of bonds would not be practicable. The cost of developing an orchard from raw land to the point of production involves such large expenditure and long wait that only persons of sufficient financial means should undertake it. The important items to be considered in an irrigation project are adequacy of water supply and permanency of construction, and not first cost. The cost of construction in this project is partially offset under the plan of financing by the elimination of speculation in raw lands.

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If the State were to finance this project in its entirety without limitation as to land speculation, the price of the raw lands, because of their choice character and the extraordinary quality of the irrigation system, would probably run as high as $500 per acre, or more. The plan worked out eliminates this waste by speculation, and makes use of the money thus saved for building the irrigation system. The plan, in brief, is as follows:

(1) The Service will subdivide and classify all the lands accurately, lay out the roads, and prepare a plat of the entire area showing definite farm units.

(2) The present landowners agree to turn over their lands to the State Reclamation Board as agent to select purchasers and the original owner is to receive $60 per acre for his irrigable land and $10 per acre for any non-irrigable land that it may be necessary or desirable to acquire. The present owners have a preference right to apply to purchase back any of their original holdings subject to the same conditions as new purchasers.


(3) After October 1, 1920, application for the purchase of these farm units may be made at the office of the State Reclamation Service to be established at Brewster, Washington, upon forms prescribed by the Board and subject to the following conditions:

(a) The applicant must be prepared to pay for the land selected in cash, i.e., $60 per acre of irrigable land and $10 per acre of any necessary non-irrigable land.

(b) The applicant must be prepared to pay at the time of making application $100 per acre in cash to be applied on the construction charge.

(c) The applicant must be prepared to make a contract with the State Reclamation Board to make additional payments of $25 per acre of irrigable land annually for six years, securing these payments by a lien

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upon the land, all of which are to be applied upon the construction charge. The remainder of the construction cost will be obtained by the sale of district bonds to the State Reclamation Baord.

(d) The applicant must be prepared to show to the State Reclamation Board that he has financial resources or earning power that will enable him to develop the orchard to bearing and an aptitude for farming so that the Board may be justified in permitting him to start on the undertaking.

(4) In the event more than one satisfactory applicant has filed upon a certain farm unit, the Board will consider the qualifications of the applicants and will select the one, who, in their opinion, will be the most likely to make a success, but other things being equal, the first to apply will be given preference.


(5) Whenever there are enough approved applicants to take up all the farm units, the State Reclamation Service will then undertake the development of the project and, beginning with 1920, will set aside $250,000 per year, or such portion thereof as may be required, for a period of six years, to furnish the additional funds necessary to complete the development, by purchase of bonds of the district, the bonds to be retired by the district under the forty-year bond payment plan.

We wish particularly to caution prospective applicants that this does not represent an opportunity for a man and family with very limited means to at once go upon the land and make a living. It is our desire and hope to develop other opportunities in the State for that class of worthy citizens. This is an opportunity for experience horticulturists, or their sons, and for professional and salaried people, and for others similarly situated, who desire in the course of a few years, unders circumstances that they know will safeguard their interests, to practice

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the highest type of horticulture under the best possible conditions.

The Board is willing to employ state funds in this type of development not only to create opportunities for its citizens but to increase the taxable wealth of the State, and to preserve and protect present agricultural development in the district.


While it is possible to plant orchards upon these lands several years in advance of the delivery of water and by clean cultivation make a satisfactory growth, we do not advise the successful applicants to do this until they have first obtained the favorable advice of the Board.

While the standard farm unit will be 20 acres, it will be possible to apply for the purchase of half units, or 10-acre tracts, and there will be a limited number of 5-acre units and farm laborers’ allotments of one or two acres each. If an applicant desires to purchase more than 20 acres, he must be prepared to show financial ability to carry out the development, and in any event, the application would be considered as special and subject to the approval of the Board.

Successful applicants will not be permitted to sell their lands until after delivery of water upon the lands and development of same, except by permission of the State Reclamation Board, given only for good and sufficient cause. This requirement is made to prevent speculative exchanges.

Inquiries for information, maps and application blanks should be made of the State Reclamation Service, Brewster, Washington, after September 1, 1920.

State Treasurer, and Chairman.
Commissioner of Public Lands, and Secretary.

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