Real Utopias in the Arid West

THE unknown settler who built his cabin on the last free homestead in " the rainbelt ” was a character of some historical importance. He closed one act in the continental drama of colonization. He was the prophet of another act to be played in the strange setting of a region of complete aridity. Beyond the place where he had paused lay half a continent, requiring new methods and promising new institutions. Differing widely from the old land in soil and climate, in scenery and resources, the new land presented its deep and fundamental contrast in demanding irrigation as the sole condition on which an enduring civilization might flourish. The character of this civilization is revealed in communities already created by the pioneers.



The Greeley Colony of Colorado sprang belated from the seed of Fourierism sown broadcast in the forties. The failure of Brook Farm and of the numerous Phalanx communities—embalmed in the public memory as half pathetic, half ridiculous—had not effaced from men’s minds the high social ideal. Horace Greeley had espoused the French philosophy in the morning of his fame. He had stood stoutly by it in the hour of its humiliation, when actual experience had left it a defeated cause. In the minds of the devoted constituency of his Tribune, the idea of colony-planting as a means of improving the lot of average humanity had taken deep root, so that twenty-five years after Fourier’s dream had ceased to flourish as a social experiment, a colony representing its hopes, if not its methods, could gain supporters. The new venture was initiated by Nathan Cook Meeker, who had succeeded Solon Robinson as agricultural editor of the New York Tribune at the close of the war. In 1844 Mr. Meeker had been an active participant in the Trumbull Phalanx at Warren, Ohio. This had expired of ague, poverty, and dissension, after a fitful career of about three years. “If the place had been healthy,” Mr. Meeker said afterwards, “ we should have held out longer, and the idle and improvident would have got more out of the industrious and patient; but I have no reason to suppose that we should not have finally exploded, either in some fight, or at least in disgust.” From this experience he emerged disappointed and destitute, but with valuable lessons for the future and unshaken faith in the utility of colonization effort. The knowledge thus dearly bought he was destined to apply, many years later, in a useful career as one of the founders of a State.

In the fall of 1869 Mr. Meeker had returned from a trip to the Far West, the object of which was to describe the Mormon industrial system in a series of letters to the Tribune. Encountering a snow blockade at Cheyenne, which compelled him to postpone his visit to Utah, he had gone to Colorado instead. It was at the time when the Kansas Pacific Railroad was pushing across the plains to the budding village of Denver, transforming the wagon-trail into a highway of civilization. Everywhere Mr. Meeker beheld the dawn of a new industrial life in the midst of a wilderness. He was charmed with the climate and scenery, and impressed with the material wealth of the country’s undeveloped resources. The old enthusiasm for colony-making filled his imagination. Wearied with a life struggle to remodel old social structures, he longed to avail himself of this opportunity to build on new foundations. These hopes he communicated to his friend, John Russell Young, who agreed to bring the matter to the attention of Horace Greeley. This he did at a dinner held at Delmonico’s in December, 1869. Mr. Greeley was instantly interested, and beckoned Mr. Meeker to join him at the table. “ I understand you have a notion to start a colony to go to Colorado,”said the editor. “Well,” he continued, “ I wish you would take hold of it, for I think it will be a great success, and if I could, I would go myself.” Thus assured of powerful backing, Mr. Meeker at once proceeded to form his plans.

The prospectus of the new colony was drawn up by Mr. Meeker, but carefully weighed and revised by Mr. Greeley. A quarter of a century had elapsed since these men had been engaged — the one as active participant, the other as the most conspicuous American champion — in the Fourier scheme of association. It is interesting to observe just how much of the old plan survived in the new colony prospectus, when the thought of these leaders had been mellowed and broadened by many more years of life and experience.

In the Fourier communities the people had lived together under one roof, in the hope of effecting large household economies. There had been common ownership of land, and an attempt at equal division of labor. The unit of the community was the whole; the only individual, the public. Fourier had predicted that this plan would “ reduce by two thirds the expense of living,” and “ quadruple the products of civilization.” But one of the historians of Brook Farm relates that in that case it developed a community with “ a surplus of philosophers and a dearth of men who could hoe potatoes,” while Meeker has recorded that at Trumbull the system permitted the idle and improvident to live at the expense of the industrious and patient.

In forming the plan of the new colony the lessons of experience were not forgotten. There was but a single suggestion of the “ phalanstery,” or common household of Fourier days, and that was advanced in timid terms. “ It seems to me,” Mr. Meeker wrote, “ that a laundry and bakery might be established, and the washing and baking done for all the community ; but other household work should be done by the families.” It was provided that the unit of society should be the family, living under its own roof ; that farms and homes should be owned independently ; that individuals should plan their own labor, and rise or fall by their industry and thrift, or lack of them. The new ideal was that of an organized community which should give the people the benefit of association without hampering individual enterprise and ability. It furnished a means of settlement essentially different from that under which the Middle West had been developed.

Land was to be purchased on a large scale with a common fund. This cheapened its cost, and gave the colonists an important measure of control in its subdivision and development. The settlement was to be made almost wholly in a village, the land being divided into blocks of ten acres, and the blocks into eight lots for building purposes. It was proposed to apportion each family “ from forty to eighty, even one hundred and sixty acres,” adjoining the village. Northampton, in Massachusetts, and several other New England towns and villages, had been settled in this manner. A feature of much interest was the proposal to have the residence and business lots sold for the benefit of the colony’s treasury, the capital so obtained to be appropriated for public improvements, such as building a church, a town hall, and a schoolhouse, and establishing a public library. This plan marked an important departure in town-making. Town sites, as a rule, especially where the community promises a rapid growth, are treated as opportunities for private speculation. The boom comes, and everybody prospers ; the boom goes, and a few schemers have managed to acquire nearly all the cash capital. Under the new plan, as the prospectus pointed out, “ the increased value of real estate will be for the benefit of all the people.” They would receive these benefits, too, in the best form, as in the shape of permanent improvements essential to their social and intellectual well-being, and of capital available for industrial purposes.

Other advantages of settling in a village were presented as follows : “ Easy access to schools and public places, meetings, lectures, and the like. In planting, in fruit - growing, and improving homes generally, the skill and experience of a few will be common to all, and much greater progress can be made than where each lives isolated. Refined society and all the advantages of an old country will be secured in a few years ; while on the contrary, where settlements are made by old methods people are obliged to wait twenty, forty, or more years.”

This prospectus was published in the New York Tribune of December 14, 1869, with a hearty editorial indorsement. Spite of radical departures in the matter of private landholding and individual industry, the vital spirit of Fourierism lived and breathed through the cautious lines of the announcement. There was still the high ideal of social and civic life, of industrial independence, of a scheme of labor which should give to the laborer an equitable share of what he produced. There was still the plan of coöoperation in achieving things for the common benefit. There was still the craving for a society composed of sober, temperate, industrious people. The common household had been discarded for the family home and hearthstone, but for the barbarism and isolation of life on great farms there had been substituted the association of homes in the village centre, with the best social and intellectual opportunities. Behind the new plan, as behind the old, stood the patient energy and faith of Meeker and the glorious optimism of Greeley.

The announcement had met with a prompt and enthusiastic response at the hands of several hundred people, who had organized the Union Colony of Colorado at a meeting held at the Cooper Institute in New York, where Horace Greeley had presided. A committee had selected twelve thousand acres of railroad and government land in the valley of the Cache la Poudre, twenty miles northwest of Denver, on the line of railway then building to Cheyenne. The pioneers of the colony were thus able to begin settlement in the spring of 1870, and to bring to the test of actual experience the social and industrial plans set forth in the prospectus. A party of Eastern people, most of whom came from cities, they entered cheerfully upon the task of adjusting a high ideal to the untried conditions of a country which had previously known only the Indian, the hunter, and the cowboy. Their experience for the next twenty years has a larger significance than merely local history, since the community is one of the landmarks in Western life.

Mr. Meeker having refused the use of his own name, the new town was christened " Greeley,” and this name was popularly applied to the colony also, in spite of its incorporated title. The first severe test of the coöperative principle, which had been relied upon for the larger enterprises, arose in connection with the building of canals. There had been no misconception as to the need of irrigation, but it was supposed that the works could be quickly constructed and the new methods of agriculture readily learned. The original estimate of cost was twenty thousand dollars. The actual outlay before the works were completed reached four hundred and twelve thousand, or more than twenty times the estimate. For resources to meet this unexpected demand, the colony had only receipts from the sales of property and the subscriptions and labor of its members. The result was not reached without serious dissensions and some desertions, but the works were built, and the community survived with its coöperative principle intact. It is not to be believed that a private enterprise could have lived through a similar experience with the same slender financial resources, for it was the public spirit and pride which saved the day at this critical juncture. These increased as difficulties multiplied, and rose with the tide of outside criticism and abuse. The process welded the people together, and made them strong enough to meet successfully the obstacles which yet remained.

Having provided water for their lands, the settlers proceeded to create the irrigation industry of Colorado ; for nothing worthy of the name existed on the scattered ranches of the sparsely settled Territory. The new-comers brought their intelligence to bear upon the problem of perfecting skillful methods of irrigation and cultivation, and of discovering the classes of crops best adapted to the soil and climate. This work quickly led them to realize another disappointment of serious import. They had dreamed of orchards and vineyards, and of homes set in the midst of beautiful flowers and delicate shrubbery. Experiment soon taught them that they had been deceived about the character of the country. The hopes which had been built upon the fruit industry failed utterly, and the colonists were compelled to fall back upon general farming. This involved somewhat larger farms, and rendered more difficult the realization of their social plans. Very likely it saved them from the evils of the single crop which has marred the prosperity of many agricultural districts. The diversified products of the soil yielded them a comfortable living. Since there was no hope of obtaining cash income from fruit, they sought another surplus crop, and found it in the potato, to which their soil proved to be peculiarly adapted. They made an exhaustive study of this culture, and at last produced in the " Greeley potato ” one of the famous crops of the West. Its superiority readily commands the best place in the market, and there have been years when the crop has returned a million dollars to the potato districts of which the colony is the centre. The farmers invented a pool system which frequently enabled them to control the output, and so influence prices in their favor.

Events proved that the colonists were gainers by reason of the trials and disappointments which attended the establishment of their industrial life. Though the cost of their canals had so far outrun their expectations, they obtained their water supply much cheaper than did subsequent communities who patronized private companies. At Greeley the cost of a water-right for eighty acres was three hundred and fifty dollars. This made the user a proportionate owner of the works. Where canals were private, settlers paid twelve hundred dollars for precisely the same amount of water, while the works remained the property of a foreign corporation. The difference in the price of water under the two systems represented a very handsome dividend for those who had persisted in their allegiance to the coöperative principle. In the same way, the colonists profited from their struggle to realize the best agricultural methods. They won a reputation for their products which possessed actual commercial value, and they became the teachers of irrigation ; furnishing practical examples to students of the subject, and contributing largely to its literature. These results must be credited to the fact that the community was organized, and that the people acted with a common impulse.

Passing now from the industrial to the civic side of the colony life, we find that the high public spirit in which the community was conceived left its marks not less indelibly. In the original prospectus Mr. Meeker had plainly stated, " The persons with whom I would be willing to associate must be temperance men and ambitious to establish good society.” This was no sounding phrase, for the founder and his fellow-colonists wrote their principles into the title deeds which transferred farm and village property from the company to individuals. These provided that if intoxicating liquor were ever manufactured or sold on the land, title should immediately revert to the colony. The provision was enforced with splendid intolerance. Those who were not in accord with its spirit had not been invited to come, nor were they made comfortable while they stayed. Their unbending attitude on this subject gave the men of Greeley the title of “ Puritans,” which was a unique distinction in the Far West, in that day of cowboys and border ruffians. The prohibition clause in the deeds was stoutly resisted by a small minority, and went from court to court, until it was finally vindicated by the supreme tribunal at Washington. The Greeley local sentiment has always upheld the principle, and insisted that it was responsible for the admittedly high character of the community. Like several of the colony’s plans, it has been extensively imitated.

The government of the community was vested in executive officers, but was actually ruled by public opinion. This found expression in numerous town meetings held in Colony Hall, which was one of the earliest buildings erected. Here all the public affairs were discussed with perfect frankness to the last detail, and no public officer ventured to stray far from the conclusions there pronounced.

Not even the early hardships and disappointments were permitted to mar the social life of the colony. The people made the most of the opportunities offered by the association of homes in the village, and organized a variety of social and intellectual diversions. At an early period an irreverent newspaper writer remarked, “ The town of Greeley is a delectable arena, for of the entire population three fourths are members of clubs that are eternally in session. Day may sink into night, flowers may bloom and fade, and the seasons roll round with the year, but Greeley clubs are unchangeable.” In one of the letters by which Mr. Meeker kept the readers of the New York Tribune informed of the progress of the community, he spoke of these “ overflowing meetings,” and said, “ In all our experience we have never seen such institutions so well sustained; and if we wanted to show strangers the best that is to be seen of Greeley we would have them visit the Lyceum.”

David Boyd, who was both a prominent actor in these scenes and the historian of the colony, writes of the same subject, and throws a suggestive side-light on a notable trait of Western life when he says, “ In coming to a country which offered so many new questions for solution and presented so many new aspects of life, the minds even of those past their prime experienced a sort of rejuvenation. Being nearly all strangers to one another, each was ambitious to begin his new record as well as possible, and so put the best foot foremost.” Here is the explanation of much of the superior energy which marks the life of new communities, and here lies the hope of social progress through colonization. The individuality all but obliterated in the great city springs anew and develops into blossom and fruitage in the fresh soil of colonial life. Institutions which would be quite impracticable in old and crowded centres get a footing in new countries, where men may exert untrammeled energies, and move freely in that atmosphere of social equality which is certain to characterize new communities and likely to endure while they continue small.

In considering the net results of Greeley Colony, it is important to note first that it has been thoroughly successful. In this respect it presents a striking contrast to the Fourier experiment from which it may be said to have descended. Each man prospered according to his merit, and what the community undertook to do by means of coöperation it accomplished. It cannot be said that the latter principle was applied extensively. The capital realized from the sale of property was so largely absorbed in the construction of canals as to leave little surplus for other industrial and commercial enterprises. If one half of this capital had been available for stores, banks, and small industries, it is likely that much which was necessarily left to private initiative would have been undertaken by the colony. In that case we should find broader lessons in coöperative effort than we do now. It is also important to note that the community owed its prosperity to its high ideal and uncompromising public spirit. There was here no common religious tie as in the early New England colonies ; no shadow of persecution such as that which bound the Mormon pioneers together in an indissoluble brotherhood. The nearest approach to this influence was the prohibition sentiment, and this formed but a small part of the original plan. These colonists were earnest men and women who had gone forth to make homes where they could combine industrial independence with social equality and intellectual opportunity. They were grimly determined to accomplish what they had undertaken. This spirit, and this alone, kept them from going to pieces during the first five years, and laid the foundation for their permanent prosperity.

Both Colorado and the arid West owe much to the example of Greeley. It lent an impulse to the development of their civic character, and made a deep and lasting impression upon their agricultural industry. The influence of the community on its immediate surroundings is yet more plainly visible. Its success resulted in large irrigation developments and numerous settlements in Colorado, Wyoming, and western Nebraska. A community without a pauper or a millionaire, Greeley has yet had a surplus both of men and of capital to contribute to the making of new districts. The colony of to-day is a well-built town of comfortable homes and substantial business blocks, surrounded by well-cultivated farms connected by a comprehensive canal system, which is the property of the landowners. Although it feels the heavy hand of hard times, few communities in the world possess a better assurance of a comfortable living in the future, while none has better educational and social advantages.

Horace Greeley followed the colony’s development with the closest interest, writing frequent letters of advice, and even finding time to pay a hurried visit. His last letter to Mr. Meeker, written six days before his death, was as follows :

“ FRIEND MEEKER, — I presume you have already drawn on me for the one thousand dollars to buy land. If you have not, please do so at once. I have not much money, and probably never shall have, but I believe in Union Colony and you, and consider this a good investment for my children.”



The most valuable lessons in all the romantic history of California may be found in a trivial corner of the great commonwealth. Upon a clear day the eye may readily scan its entire length from the San Timoteo Hills to the shining sea. Between its parallel mountain ranges the width of the district seems but two or three miles, though in reality it is from ten to twenty miles. This is the San Bernardino Valley. It is upon this narrow territory that to a great degree the fame of California climate and productions rests. Here institutions have been created in the last thirty years which are destined to exert a powerful influence upon the future life of the Pacific coast.

In the stormy and heroic days of the gold epoch, of the Bear Flag, of the American conquest, and of the Vigilance Committees southern California played a small part. Its past is the dreamy memory of old mission days, of peaceful shepherds, of great haciendas, of a land dominated by Spanish folk and speech. The land was a desert of sage-brush and cactus, in which a few scattered mission gardens made charming oases. Along moist river-bottoms there were sometimes fields and gardens, though not of the highest type. On the uplands light crops of wheat and barley were occasionally harvested, if spring rains happened to be fairly generous. But it was, apparently, a country which offered nothing to the stranger save climate and scenery. To this barren place came irrigation and the AngloSaxon, bringing a new era in their train.

The evolution of southern California may be studied in the experience of two representative colonies. These are Anaheim and Riverside. Both were undertaken by comparatively poor men, and made important contributions to the permanent prosperity of the district in which they settled. The success which they achieved and the methods by which they accomplished it colored and shaped the larger institutions which grew from these pioneer plantings. Anaheim owes its historical importance to the fact that it was the mother colony, but it gains added interest as an example of the way in which a number of petty capitalists may combine their means in large enterprises. It is useful, too, as showing the outcome of the settlement of city workingmen on agricultural lands. Riverside represents a higher degree of social conditions, and is especially important and interesting as an example of the influence exerted by an entirely new element of population upon a country which had been neither developed nor appreciated by its natives and early settlers. A brief glance at the beginnings of these two communities is essential to any just comprehension of the condition and tendencies of the southern California of today.

Anaheim was projected nearly forty years ago by a party of Germans in San Francisco. They were all mechanics and small tradesmen, and each was possessed of a modest amount of savings. It was proposed that this capital should be united in a common fund and used for the purchase and improvement of a large tract of land. For this purpose a colony association was formed, the members paying one hundred dollars each, and agreeing to make further contributions in monthly installments. A committee was sent out to discover a good location and contract for its purchase. A body of land near the Santa Ana River, twenty-five miles southeast of Los Angeles, was chosen. A part of the colony was then detailed to build an irrigation canal, divide the land into twenty-acre farms with a central village, and plant the whole tract in orchards and vineyards. In the mean time, the main body of the association remained in San Francisco, earning money and sustaining the work in the field. When the colony had thus been completely prepared for occupancy, the settlers came with their families, building their houses in the village and assigning the farms to individuals by drawing lots. In order to make this division equitable, those who obtained the choicest property paid a premium, which was divided among those to whom the poorer places had fallen. Most of the colonists devoted themselves exclusively to agriculture, but enough opened small shops, and worked at their trades as blacksmiths, carpenters, painters, shoemakers, and tailors, to meet the needs of the community. With the division of the land the association settled its accounts, and only the irrigation canal remained public property. Coöperation had served an excellent purpose, however, in enabling the people to obtain their land at first cost, and to have it improved skillfully and economically in advance of their coming.

Beyond the hope of dwelling beneath their own roofs and working for themselves, the founders of Anaheim had brought no special ideal to the southern valley. They were people of common tastes, well content with simple prosperity and comfort. The community was thoroughly successful. It is also possible to record an almost uniform story of individual ease of life for the settlers. While a few became discouraged and sold out to their neighbors, much the greater number remained and became comfortably well off, while a few rose to wealth. They had come to the colony from the employments of city life, yet readily adapted themselves to the work of tilling the soil of their small farms. But the true importance of Anaheim was seen in the impulse which it gave to a new form of development in southern California. It had been a region of great ranches, where livestock and grain held almost complete sway. Anaheim pointed the way to the subdivision of large estates and the intensive cultivation of the soil with the aid of irrigation. This demonstration was destined to work a revolution in the character of the people and country.

The founding of Riverside followed that of Anaheim by a dozen years. The new colony was the conception of Eastern men, who issued their prospectus from Knoxville, Tennessee. They readily obtained a following, and proceeded without delay to select a location for the enterprise. Curiously enough, they had the faith to select a location which the natives and residents regarded as quite worthless, and the genius to create upon it the most ideal development which had been undertaken up to that time. They saw possibilities in the desert which flanked the bottom-lands of the Santa Ana River, and entered boldly upon the task of making them realities. This involved the construction of more elaborate irrigation facilities than had previously been attempted. Even more important was the faith of the new-comers that oranges could be produced in that climate upon a commercial scale. They staked the fate of their enterprise largely upon this idea. The fame of the Riverside orange, now known to the markets of the world, is the evidence of their success. The founding of the orange industry was, however, not their only achievement in an industrial way. Equally important were the improvements which they wrought out in the irrigation industry, both in the character of canal systems and in the art of applying water to the soil. The methods which had been employed by the Mexican irrigators for centuries were anything but scientific. They not only failed to get the best results of which the soil and climate were capable, but injured the land and dissipated the water supply. The Riverside colonists applied superior intelligence to the study of this subject, just as they had done in the selection of their land and in the development of orange culture. It is no exaggeration to say that this policy has produced, along with scientific horticulture, the best irrigation methods known to the world. It is a fact both interesting and suggestive that these achievements were made by men who had settled in a new environment and boldly defied local traditions and advice.

It is the social side of Riverside, however, which makes the strongest appeal to popular interest. The homes and avenues of this colony, which have been evolved from an inferior sheep pasture in less than a generation, are among the most beautiful in the world. In considering their widely celebrated charms, it should never be forgotten that these are the homes and surroundings of average people, and that they earn their living by tilling the soil. Making due allowance for climatic differences, there are equally beautiful residence districts in the suburbs of great Eastern cities; but these belong to people who enjoy a degree of prosperity much above the average, — to the small minority who are rich, or at least unusually well-to-do. They are not farmers, but business or professional men who have risen above the general level of society. At Riverside, on the other hand, at least ninety per cent of the total population live in homes which front on beautiful boulevards, presenting to the passer an almost unbroken view of wellkept lawns, opulent flower - beds, and delicate shrubbery. Newspaper carriers canter through these streets, delivering the local morning and evening dailies. Though this is a farming population, the homes are so close together that the people enjoy the convenience of free postal delivery. They fill their bath-tubs with water piped through the streets. They light their homes with electricity. In the centre of the colony they have fine stores, churches, hotels, and public halls. Their schools are of the highest standard, and are housed in buildings the beauty and convenience of which bespeak the good public taste. A well-patronized institution is the club-house and its readingroom. There is but a single saloon, and it is considered decidedly disreputable to frequent it.

The first result of the early colonies was to give a tremendous impetus to the settlement and development of southern California. The fruits of this new impulse are seen in the scores of charming communities which stretch eastward to the margin of the Colorado desert, and southward to the border of Mexico. The impressive city of Los Angeles, which grows alike in good times and in bad, is another product of the movement which traces back to the humble beginnings of these pioneer settlements established by a superior class of Eastern immigrants. High land values and costly irrigation works have naturally resulted. But these are only the superficial evidences of economic forces which lie deeper, and which should be noted as the peculiar product of the colonial life of southern California.

The germ of Riverside, and of the civilization which it inaugurated in the San Bernardino Valley, is the small farm made possible by irrigation. This is alone responsible for the character of industrial and social institutions and of the people who sustain them. Where farms are very small — in Riverside they are from five to ten acres in size — they necessarily belong to the many. This means a class of small landed proprietors at the base of society. The condition is one which forbids the existence of a mass of servile labor like that which lives upon the cotton plantations of the South, and, to a greater or less extent, upon large farms everywhere, including the greater part of California itself. On a small farm the proprietary family does most of the work. Hence the main part of the population in such districts as Riverside is independent and self-employing.

The people of southern California are plainly moving along the line which leads to public ownership of public utilities and coöperative management of commercial affairs. But with them the movement is an economic growth rather than a political agitation. It is the logical outcome of their environment and necessities. A great body of producers and proprietors of the soil, they formerly stood between private irrigation systems, supplying the life current of their fields, and private commission houses, furnishing the only outlet for their products. The condition was an intolerable one, since it made them utterly dependent upon agencies beyond their control. These instrumentalities the people are rapidly taking into their own hands, and it is inconceivable that they can ever again pass into private control.

The principal irrigation canal at Riverside was originally projected as a coöperative enterprise, but as it demanded a large expenditure it became private and speculative before it was well advanced. It returned, however, to the ownership of the community. Even more striking is the lesson now in progress in the wonderful fruit district watered by the Bear Valley system. The building of these works furnished the basis for the most extraordinary irrigation speculation in the history of the West. About three millions of Eastern and foreign capital were invested in the enterprise, which was inflated until it burst. After repeated efforts to reorganize the company, the bondholders themselves have turned to public ownership as the only practicable solution of the problem. The indications are that the people will get the works for very much less than they cost the builders. The legality of the Wright Irrigation District Law having recently been affirmed by the United States Supreme Court, it is probable that California has seen almost the last of the attempts to establish the policy of private ownership of this most vital of all public utilities in arid regions. The system of coöperative fruit exchanges is carried forward by the same impulse. Already it handles more than half the enormous product. The producers have their own packing-houses, make cash advances to their members, and send their agents to represent them in distant markets.

It is pleasant to note that beautiful homes and high average prosperity have not spoiled the democratic simplicity of these communities. After the adjournment of the International Irrigation Congress at Los Angeles in 1893, its members enjoyed the hospitalities of many of the charming colonies in the neighborhood. In his remarks at a banquet tendered the party by the people of Santa Ana, Señor de Ybarrola, the representative of Mexico, paid a handsome compliment to the ladies who had waited upon the table. Afterward, one of the distinguished representatives of France remarked his surprise at hearing a public compliment to “ the servants.” “ What,” exclaimed Señor de Ybarrola, “ did you think they were servants ? Why, those were the leading ladies of Santa Ana.”

“ Do you mean to tell me,” the French delegate demanded in amazement, “ that the leading ladies of Santa Ana put on aprons to serve strangers ? ”

“ Certainly,” the Mexican replied;

“ for in this country service is a title to respect.”

The incident illustrates at once the hospitality and the equality which are characteristic of the social life of southern California.



It is common to think of colonial times as of the past. In reality, growing nations sustain permanent colonial movements, sometimes seeking new continents as fields for expansion. The day is far distant when the United States need go beyond its own wide borders to make homes for its increasing population. The colonial movement of to-day and of the future will be directed in large measure to the arid region of the Far West. In many respects the new era differs from the past.

The first contrast is in the source whence recruits are drawn. It is not a movement of foreign immigration, but preëminently one of domestic or interior immigration. We still receive accessions of foreign population, but they no longer flow to the agricultural lands of the West. They remain in the cities of the seaboard, making New York, Philadelphia, and Boston cosmopolitan communities. They fill the coal-mining districts of Pennsylvania and Ohio with Hungarian and Bohemian laborers. They replace the native artisans of Eastern manufacturing towns with Canadians, Italians, and Armenians. They swell the population of the Lake cities, such as Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and Milwaukee. This is one of the strong forces behind the new colonial era, and the one which gives it the distinctive color of a domestic immigration. The native population has suffered by the new process. Its standard of living has been imperiled, its very ability for existence menaced in a way. Hence it is the new-comer who stays, the old settler who goes.

Another contrast: The former domestic immigrant came mostly from the farms; the present one comes mostly from the city. In the old days the farms had a surplus which naturally sought new farms in the West. During the wonderful urban growth of the past few decades the farms have been emptied, and many an old proprietor wonders who is to succeed him at his ancient hearthstone when he is gone. In the new tide of settlement, small merchants, small tradesmen, and small manufacturers are conspicuous. This is the natural result of the growth of great stores and factories and the rising power of great combinations of capital. A considerable class of energetic and once prosperous business men find it necessary to change their pursuits.

Another important element is that of professional men, such as lawyers, physicians, musicians, and teachers. They are generally well educated, and have learned from experience that there is plenty of room at the top, but that the bottom is much nearer. It is no reflection upon the ability of many professional men to say that they have not succeeded in the cities, since their ranks are constantly swollen by a stream of recruits from numerous colleges. There are many thrifty mechanics among new settlers. They have noted the downward tendency of their trades, and are anxious to rear their children under better influences than those which prevail in large cities. An element by no means inconsiderable are invalids, or families containing some member who is in delicate health. Such persons are advised by their physicians to seek the pure, dry air of the arid region. A hopeful chapter might be written on the achievements of those who have gone West to save their lives, and, having found their health, have blessed with their industry and enterprise the country which saved them from the grave.

The dangers which made settlement in the past a work of hardy heroism are entirely eliminated from the situation. Even most of the frontier lawlessness of a later period has vanished, and human life is rather more secure in Arizona than in the streets of New York. The time has come when gentle people can accomplish what formerly required the hardiest frames and the stoutest hearts. Of hard work there is quite enough for those who settle in new countries, and there will always be ; but the danger, the hardship, and the uncertainty inseparably associated with colonization in the past are unlikely to fill a single page of the history of the new era.

When we comprehend the sources of the new immigration and the methods by which it does its work, it is not difficult to understand why different institutions may be anticipated as a logical result. People who have enjoyed the advantages of city life would naturally desire to develop high social standards in their new home. They would prefer a system which would give them neighbors, schools, clubs, and entertainments. Having seen the benefit of organizing industrial and commercial affairs in a large way, and having been in a sense victims of such organization, nothing is more certain than that they would seek to apply this principle to advantage in their own affairs. These conclusions are not speculative, since they are abundantly borne out by the plain tendencies of communities already founded by the pilgrim fathers of the new West.

William E. Smythe.