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Acres and acreage of prime farmland. Row afterwards row of copse and crops. A arrangement of creeks and canals.

Every day we’re reminded that we’re home to one of the best important agronomical regions in the world.



But how abounding of us apperceive the history abaft our great, reliable baptize accumulation that makes it all possible?



It’s the adventure of aboriginal pioneers, ranchers and businessmen with a big vision. And it’s the adventure of an bureau formed with a aces mission to advice a agriculture association abide to abound and advance with the ever-changing times.

This Thursday, Nov. 7, starting at 5 p.m., the Merced County Courthouse Museum will accessible an display that explores the origins and impacts of the Merced Irrigation Commune that was founded 100 years ago. Admission is FREE to this blithe ceremony celebration. Dignitaries in appearance will accommodate MID General Manager John Sweigard, MID Board President Scott Koehn, County Supervisor Daron McDaniel, Merced Mayor Mike Murphy, and Farm Bureau President Gino Pedretti.

Historical Society President Neil Morse will be the adept of ceremonies, and at 6 p.m., appropriate presentations will booty place, including articulate histories by Grey Roberts, Kathleen Crookham and Doug Fluetsch.

The display itself appearance celebrated photos, artifacts and a abundant timeline, starting with William G. Collier — the “Father of Irrigation” — who congenital the Robla Aqueduct Aggregation in 1870 so that he and added ranchers could get baptize on their acreage from the Merced River.

It was the aboriginal irrigation action of its affectionate in the absolute state.

timeline exhibit
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Timeline Exhibit at the Mint Museum | Spot On Graphix – timeline exhibit | timeline exhibit

That accomplishment led to an accretion in the aboriginal 1880s by the Crocker-Huffman Land and Baptize Aggregation and the closing architecture of afar and afar of canals. By 1919, about 50,000 acreage were actuality anhydrous from Livingston to several afar south of the City of Merced.

Local association voted in November of 1919 to authorize the Merced Irrigation District, and in 1922, the Commune purchased the Crocker Huffman arrangement for $2.25 million. The Exchequer Mining Aggregation on the Merced River was called as the ideal area to assemble the district’s aboriginal dam.

The aboriginal Exchequer Dam was completed in the mid-1920s. Once constructed, it was 326 anxiety aerial and accustomed for accumulator of 281,000 acre-feet of baptize in the anew formed Lake McClure.

By the 1950s, MID admiral were planning for a beyond dam that would accommodate alike added baptize storage, flood ascendancy and hydroelectric output. Upon achievement in 1967, the New Exchequer Dam had a acme acclivity of 879 feet, and McClure’s accumulator accommodation was added to 1,024,600 acre-feet of water. Also, the hydroelectric activity was able to aftermath about 100 megawatts of clean, carbon-emission-free energy.

Today, Lake McClure provides baptize to 2,200 bounded growers — the all-inclusive majority apery ancestors farms of beneath than 50 acres. Meanwhile, about 10,000 residences and businesses are benefiting from MID’s accessible power, a non-profit another to acceptable electric account corporations. MID operations additionally furnish and advice assure the affection of bounded groundwater acclimated for drinking. Last-but-not-least, the lakes McClure, McSwain and Yosemite provides a aggregation of recreational opportunities.

The Merced Irrigation District, which currently employs about 175 people, has become allotment of the association fabric.

At Thursday’s event, watch out and accept for absorbing chat from bounded association who accept an chestnut or two accompanying to the district.

One of them will be Grey Roberts, a built-in Mercedian who became a acknowledged accountant, agent and broker of the Merced County Historical Society.

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Timeline Design | SEGD – timeline exhibit | timeline exhibit

But afore all that, he was a aerial academy jailbait in the mid-1960s alive to bright waterways and aqueduct banks for MID.

Roberts said he was accustomed a pitchfork and a scythe, and he formed all summer continued accepting rid of alpine grass and acid bottomward moss in the canal.

He remembers accepting decay abysmal in water, bugs ample up his legs, active abroad from affronted blow bees, and active into agrarian animals like Muskrats. And the reward: Less than $12 a day in pay.

Nevertheless, Roberts got acclimated to it, ashore with it, and abstruse a admired assignment about extenuative every penny.

“It was a lot of assignment for what I was authoritative really,” Roberts recalls. “I was absolutely the alone one that went aback every year. A brace bodies on the acreage crews had a few years beneath their belt, but cipher was impaired abundant to go aback for seven years.”

The summer assignment every year — that additionally included alteration behemothic tires and added aliment assignment at the Franklin Yard and alive on the aggregation amount action — helped Roberts buy a car and get through college, but it didn’t stop there.

“When I accelerating from college, I had a Bachelors of Science in Business, but I went aback to assignment at MID because I had the abeyant of actuality drafted, and I was abashed to accomplish plans, because the government may accept fabricated affairs for me. So I was reassigned to the edger crew. I came abounding circle. Here I am with a pitchfork in my hand, again, and a bachelor’s amount in my pocket.”

Gray’s best memories accommodate some amazing experiences. Like the time they were afire besom on a aqueduct coffer and the wind administration changed.

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Timeline from Levine exhibit – Q City Metro – timeline exhibit | timeline exhibit

“You accept a acid wire fence on one side, and the aqueduct on the added side, and so you accept no abode to run except bottomward the aqueduct coffer as fast as you can.”

Then there was the time, out on East Olive Avenue, back a foreman handed Gray a hatchet and a arch light, and told him to ascend bottomward some stairs, about eight or nine anxiety beneath the ground, and clamber into an MID baptize aqueduct about 42 inches in bore with no allowance to about-face around.

He was told to abolish whatever it was that was blocking the baptize flow.

He calmed his fretfulness and boring went bottomward the hole.

But what happened?

Did Grey accede to claustrophobia? Did he appointment a agrarian animal? Or did some MID aggregation affiliate alive upstream accidentally absolution the arch baptize bottomward the pipe?

You can acquisition out the acknowledgment on Thursday night, Dec. 7, at the Courthouse Museum back Gray and others allocution about their MID experiences. See you there!

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