Watering the Valley

Development along the High Plains Arkansas River, 1870-1950

James E. Sherow

James Earl Sherow contends that a vast network of problems in the arid West has sprung from the mistaken notion that water is a commodity to be bought, sold, and traded. This ill-conceived approach to water development, he argues, has resulted in social problems as well as abuse of the environment. In this volume he tells the story of the inhabitants of the "Valley of Content," the High Plains section of the Arkansas River Valley, during the formative period of settlement and development. It was their desire for growth, he maintains, that spurred the construction of the very dams, reservoirs, and water conveyance structures that would ultimately undermine their success. He documents their attempts—both fanciful and fruitful—to bring the river under their control, the waves of new problems that followed each new 'solution,' and the conflict and cooperation the process engendered.

“Succeeds as a well-researched, succinctly stated traditional history, and it successfully places its subject in a larger context.

—Journal of Economic History

“James Sherow is to be congratulated for this volume. His research is impressive, and he writes with vigor and wit.

—Journal of American History
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Additional Titles in the Development of Western Resources Series