"Here and now, I dedicate these waters to the service and constructive purposes of man in his pursuit of the useful arts of peace in this generation and in the generations to come.” Kate Church, Bowman Dam dedication, 1927
In honor of Women’s History Month, we recognize the contributions to NID by the woman who helped form NID: Rancher Kate Church.
In 1917, local ranchers Kate Church and her husband Munson “Bert” drove their cattle up to the green mountain meadows of the Sierra Nevada when their foothill pastures dried and turned brown during the summer.
On this cattle drive, Kate, called “Ma,” envisioned a water system where the tumbling and abundant waters of the high mountains could be carried to ranches in the foothills.
The Churches were among a group of local residents who started a campaign to form an irrigation district. Thanks to their efforts, the Nevada Irrigation District was formed in 1921 by popular vote of the people.
Ten years later, Kate was the keynote speaker to dedicate the rebuilt and enlarged Bowman Dam. Standing back in the Sierra on June 29, 1927, Kate broke a bottle of clear mountain water against a plaque on the crest of Bowman Dam. Valves opened below and “a great column of silvery water gushed forth the bed of Canyon Creek on its way to Lake Spaulding,” reported the Union Newspaper.
Kate addressed an enthusiastic audience: “To the completion of the work of our pioneers…the use of cities that are yet to be… to the tireless wheels of industry… to a richer rural life… to a greater measure of prosperity… to a higher standard of living… to a fuller realization of happiness… and to the maximum service of humanity. The great works and the life-giving waters of Nevada Irrigation District are here irrevocably dedicated… Here and now, I dedicate these waters to the service and constructive purposes of man in his pursuit of the useful arts of peace in this generation and in the generations to come.”