Department of Agriculture
The James River Valley in South Dakota is one of the most fertile tracts of prairie land to be found in the Northwest. It comprises the whole central portion of the state lying along the James River., which flows through the state from north to south. This stretch of prairie land is noted for its wealth of native grasses and for its crops of cereals and for its herds of stock. Were it not that at intervals dry seasons occur, this belt would be a veritable Eldorado for the husbandman. Where so many natural advantages are to be found coupled with such abundant fertility of soil, it is not strange that means should be sought to supply any deficiency of moisture that might occur from time to time and thus to render crop production a matter of inevitable certainty from year to year. But nature has been lavish in her gifts to this region. This valley is situated in the greatest artesian basin known. Just underneath the thousands of square miles of land comprising this valley lies a sheet of water under such a head of pressure that when pierced by the drill of the engineer, a fountain of water rushes out with such force that it rivals the mechanical possibilities of a huge Corliss engine and with sufficient volume to create and sustain lakes and flowing streams. Again it is but natural that the consideration of this volume of water in its possibilities for irrigation purposes should become a problem fraught with the deepest interest, not only to the residents of the James River Valley but also to all interested in the development of the resources of a state.
irrigation, James River Valley, watersheds
U. S. Experiment Station of South Dakota, South Dakota Agricultural College
Shepard, J.H. and Chilcott, E.C., "Irrigation in South Dakota" (1897). Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletins. 52.