Historic American Engineering Record: Western Canal, South Side of Salt River, Mesa, Tempe and Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona

Author(s): Fred Andersen

Year: 1990


Together, Historic American Engineering Records (HAER) Nos. AZ-22 and AZ-23 present a written historical summary and relevant historical documentation about the construction and use of the Western Canal and the Highline Canal, which are waterways that serve Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, and parts of south Phoenix, Arizona on the south side of the Salt River. This report, Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. AZ-22, presents a narrative history of both canals and their infrastructure features. It also includes photographs, drawings, and maps of the Western Canal. HAER AZ-23 (see https://core.tdar.org/document/393530) presents photographs, drawings, and maps of the Highline Canal.

The Western Canal provides water for agricultural, industrial, and municipal uses to portions of eastern Mesa, south Tempe, and south Phoenix, near the base of the Salt River (South) Mountains. The construction of the canal resulted from the Reclamation Service's inability to purchase the Tempe Canal, in an effort to improve drainage for south Tempe agricultural fields. From 1911 to 1912, Reclamation worked to connect feeders from the Consolidated Canal in Mesa (the Peck, Wallace, and Pine Feeders) to the Kyrene Branch Canal in south Tempe and the Wormser Branch Canal in south Phoenix. After a funding delay, the Western Canal Company completed construction under Reclamation's supervision. Simultaneously, in 1912, the Highline Canal Construction Company formed to build and mange a canal that would deliver water to agricultural interests and residents on the southern and eastern slopes of the Salt River (South) Mountains. From 1912 to 1914, the company constructed the Highline Canal and Pump.

Both the Western and Highline Canals continue to supply water to the southeastern portions of the Salt River Valley, and are long-standing features on the landscape. The canal right-of-ways have also been transformed into recreational spaces, which include bike and pedestrian trails and canal-side parks.

Cite this Record

Historic American Engineering Record: Western Canal, South Side of Salt River, Mesa, Tempe and Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona. Fred Andersen. 1990 ( tDAR id: 393529) ; doi:10.6067/XCV81J9BXP

Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 1903 to 1911 (early history of the Salt River Project)

Calendar Date: 1911 to 1913 (initial construction of Western Canal)

Calendar Date: 1911 to 1952 (construction history of Highline Canal and Highline Pump Plant)

Calendar Date: 1871 to 1892 (Euro-American history of irrigation systems and water allocation in the Salt River Valley)

Calendar Date: 1889 to 1903 (formation and early history of the Salt River Valley Water Users' Association)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -112.102; min lat: 33.303 ; max long: -111.772; max lat: 33.39 ;

Record Identifiers

Historic American Engineering Record No.(s): AZ-22

NADB document id number(s): 2202022

NADB citation id number(s): 000000166126


Redaction Note: Sensitive information has been removed from the publicly accessible digital copy of this report. The following figures and/or pages have been redacted: Figures AZ-22-18 to AZ-22-22. Please contact the archaeologist at the USDI Bureau of Reclamation, Phoenix Area Office to obtain a complete digital copy of the report.

File Information

  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
HAER-No-AZ-22-Western-Canal-South-Side-Salt-River_REDACTED.pdf 3.88mb Mar 26, 2015 2:09:22 PM Public