In conjunction with the arrival of the Smithsonian “Waterways” exhibit at the Sun Valley Museum of History, the library will host a series of talks related to water issues in our region.
The “Waterways” exhibit is on display at the Sun Valley Museum of History, 180 1st St., in the Forest Service Park, Ketchum, from July 16 to August 28.
This talk by John W. Lundin, a Seattle attorney and local historian, traces conflicts over the acquisition of water rights from the earliest days of settlement in the Wood River Valley, 1880, for the full range of uses i.e., for cities, agriculture, mining and industry. We live in an area of high desert, where water is scarce, acquisition of water rights was essential for development, water rights represented both power and wealth. Although there was a process for registering water claims with the county, there was no body responsible for monitoring the number of water claims, the amounts claimed, nor whether the rivers and streams had sufficient water to supply the amounts claimed. Battles over water claims were pervasive as the amount of water claimed exceeded the capacity of the rivers, and the parties had to turn to the courts to resolve conflicting claims. Water shortages in the late 1800s, raised many of the same issues with which we deal today.