The Hood River County Sun, Hood River, OR., April 12, 1939, page 12


     The progress and problems faced by the Middle Fork Irrigating Company since its establishment 1896, have been related in a recent history of the company, compiled by officers. The history follows:
     The Middle Fork Irrigating Company (first as of) Mount Hood, Oregon was first incorporated October 5th, 1896. The first officers were: David Wishart, president; James K. Knight, vice-president, and Horace Richmond, secretary.
     While the first Company had three directors, H.H. Tomlinson served as treasurer at this time. (The board was later increased to five). Stock to the amount of $1000 was issued in shares of $10 each. Such oldtimers as D.R. Cooper, A.B. Billings, Henry Ries, George Wishart, George Perkins and others were on the list as stockholders. Norman Williams of later fame was also on the list.
     Supplementary Articles of Incorporation were voted January 30, 1904, and charter granted the same year. Stock was increased to $18,000. The main ditch enlarged to 3000 inches and filings augmented. J.E. Foss, James Knight and George Wishart were then directors, Alan Macrum served as secretary. In this office H.J. Hess later served one year, J.H. Thomas two years, R.J. McIsaac four years, S.G. Babson one year, J. Douglas Gordon two years, and M.O. Boe, now on his twenty-fifth year.
     The old Middle Fork Irrigating Company was organized as a public service corporation, but always operated as a co-operative. The reason for this was that the State public service laws conferred rights to condemn right-of-ways while the co-operative laws did not. Because of this setup it was asked to pay income tax in the postwar years but succeeded in convincing Washington that it was not a profit sharing corporation. Fluming lumber at this time went to $40 per thousand feet. The District set up its own mill, and despite the high prices prevailing in everything, sawed 168,000 board feet at about one-half of what it would of otherwise have cost.
     Oregon copied its Irrigation District laws from California and in 1923 it changed from the old Company to that of District. The old Company had sold more stock and changed its address to Parkdale. The new District sold $65,000 of its 6% bonds at nearly par, paid $48,000 for the old stock and $11,491 for private water rights and ditches that had come into being during the years of the old Company. C.E. McIntosh, C.C. Walton and Isaac Beal were directors at this time.
     The depression years were hard on the Middle Fork Irrigation District because it was hard on the between three and four hundred families that composed District. The district refinanced in 1935. It now has less of 4% bonds outstanding, a sinking fund, and a very substantial "cash on hand" item in case of emergencies.
     In 1917 its water was adjudicated and the duty of waters set at one half miners inch per acre. While the source was adequate, it behooves the District to conserve its water as well as its finances in all possible way. Against exploitation; against seepage; against evaporation, etc. With this end in view, it is now making thousands of feet of concrete pipe each year and (using free gravel at the head-gate) at the very substantial saving in cost.
     The district contains over 8000 acres, about 1500 people, as over 60 miles of ditches, gets its annual quota of complaints, but withall, remains a fairly successful irrigation district.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer