The Mormon Role in Irrigation Beginnings and Diffusions in the Western States : An Historical Geography
Brigham Young University
Irrigation has played an important part in the development of the Western States. Its beginnings have often been associated with the Mormon settlement in Utah. However, irrigation had its inception in the West long before the Mormons came to the Great Basin in 1847. The spatial extent of irrigation before this date included limited acreage in nearly every Western State.
Before their arrival in the Great Basin the Mormons had become acquainted with irrigation methods. Knowledge of irrigation had diffused to them primarily from the Spanish in the Southwest. Thus, they were well prepared to begin their irrigation enterprises in the West. After establishing the practice of irrigation securely in Utah, this region then served as a source area from which irrigation methods then diffused to other Western areas.
Eventually, the status and influence of Mormon irrigation waned. In more recent years Utah has fallen behind other Western States in total irrigated acreage and in the application of new irrigation technology.