Dwinnell envisions turning this reservoir into a large lake
to gravity feed water via a long canal with lateral ditches
to a large portion of the Shasta Valley. Thus with the cooperation
of local farmers and entrepreneurs, the Montague Irrigation
District was born on April 13, 1925.
Engineer, John A. Beemer designed a system that would deliver
up to 60,000 acre feet of water from the Shasta River and Parks
Creek. The blueprints of Beemer's unique design now reside in
the Smithsonian. In order to pay for the construction of the
project, bonds were issued with the more appealing name of Montague
Water Conservation District. Farmers were nervous about their
investment. If the dam didn't deliver, many investors would
Nevada Contracting Company began construction of Dwinnell Dam
in 1926. Construction of the dam - the 1,800 foot flume, trestles,
the 21 mile long canal and the 55 miles of laterals - went smoothly
and on time. But soon disaster struck. The problem that arose
was not in the structural integrity of the project but in filling
the reservoir. Geological faults and crevices prevented the
water from filling the newly constructed ditch system.
farmers greatest fear became a reality when their fields were
either flooded or completely devoid of water. To make matters
even worse, the next three years were the driest on record for
many different methods were used attempting to stop the leaks:
Dropping hay bales into cracks in the reservoir, moving earth
to cover larger cracks, and even filling large holes with cement.
In the end however, it was Mother Nature who ultimately had
come to the rescue. As if by divine intervention, the lake began
to seal itself with silt and small debris that worked its
way into the cracks and crevices.
By 1947 the reservoir was about 50%
efficient and as improvements continued the district increased
the allowance from 35,000 acre feet to 50,000 by 1955. Dr. Dwinnell's
dream had now finally become a reality.