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University of California General Library/Berkeley 
Regional Cultural History Project 

William Durbrow 


An Interview Conducted By 
Willa Klug Baum 


109 alAlffUrBO 10 


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All uses of thia manuscript are covered by en 
agreement between the Regents of the University of 
California and William Durbrow, dated January 2l|, 
1953* The manuscript ia thereby made available for 
research purposes. All literary righta in the manu 
script, including the right to publish, are reserved 
to the General Library of the University of Califor 
nia at Berkeley* No part of the manuscript may be 
quoted for publication without the written perraia- 
aion of the Librarian of the University of California 
at Berkeley. 


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California's land is fertile* the climate ideal for 
agriculture, but for most crops in most areas seasonal 
irrigation la a requirement. Irrigation on the scale neces 
sary, often bringing water from great distances, requires 
expensive works of a type beyond the means of private irri- 
gstors. So California's farmers have banded together to 
form public districts for the purpose of building, financ 
ing, and administering irrigation works for the benefit of 
the Included territory* The organization, operation, and 
complications of these irrigation districts and other 
water-use districts are of interest to all those con 
cerned with any sort of local cooperation for publio pur 

In order to preserve some of the details of water-use 
districts, severel interviews with men intimately connected 
with these districts have been conducted by the Regional 
Cultural Hiatory Project of the Library of the University 
of California at Berkeley. One of these men has been 
William Durbrow, who was sotive in irrigation district 
affairs from 1919 until his retirement in 19V?. Origi 
nally trained as a mining engineer, he soon went into the 


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water field aa the engineer and manager of a water and 
power company. He later became a farmer, but his earlier 
experience* in the distribution of water soon brought him 
back into water matters, first on the organizing committee, 
then as president of the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, 
and later as manager of the Nevada Irrigation District* 
Prom 1923 to 1933 he served ss president of the Irriga 
tion Districts Association* Daring the depression of the 
1930's, when the problem of meeting their district finaa- 
cisl obligations seriously threatened the economic sur 
vival of the farmers within irrigation districts as well 
as the districts themselves, Mr* Durbrow spent a good deal 
of his efforts on negotiating and renegotiating financial 
arrangements for Nevada Irrigation District, 

The following four Interviews were tape-recorded by 
Villa Baura during July and October of 1957 in the home of 
Mr* Durbrow 1 s daughter in Atherton, a more convenient lo 
cation than his home in Grass Valley* William Durbrow, 
tall, erect, a carefully-groomed, gray-haired gentleman, 
was eighty years old at the time of the interviews* Be 
fore the actual recording sessions he and thj interviewer, 
with the assistance of his son, Robert Durbrow, executive 
secretary-treasurer of the Irrigation Districts Associa 
tion, planned the topics to be covered, and Mr. Durbrow 

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checked on certain information in his files. He later 
carefully edited the transcription into ita present form. 
This series of interviews was part of a larger aerie* 
undertaken by the Regional Cultural History Project, under 
the direction of Dr. Corlnne Gilb, to record for posterity 
eyewitneaa accounts of significant phases of California's 
history during the twentieth century. 

Villa K. Baum 

Regional Cultural History Projeet 
University of Cslifornia Library, Berkeley 
June 12, 1958 








Family Background 1 

Childhood in San Francisco 8 

Student Days at the University of California Ik 

Marriage 22 

A Family of Five Children 23 

First Jobs A Mining Engineer 2? 

Karl Krug 31 

Entry into Water Engineering and Management 

Oro Water t Light & Power Company 33 

Ranching in Glenn County 

Food Administrator for Glenn County- 
World War I 

Getting Water from the Sacramento Weat Side 

Canal Company lj.9 

Depression Years 1920* s 52 

A Director of the Rice Growers Association 62 

J6 J.J. $;> . ,-..,. 


Organization 1919 66 


Purchase and Construction of Facilities 67 
Antioch Case 70 

Sale of Bonds 72 

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Officials and Employees of the District 73 

Refinancing the District 76 

Tolls and Assessments 73 

Second Refinancing 80 

Annexation of Williams Irrigstion District Ql\ 

Durbrow Leaves the District 85 



Organization 1921 92 

Purchases and Construction of District 

Facilities 100 

Visker's Power Development Plans Pail 106 

Durbrow Becomes Manager 1929 113 

Pirst Refunding 1931 116 

Second Modification 1937 123 

Negotiation with the R.P.C. 123 

A Private Deal 127 

Purchase of Scotts Plat Reservoir Lands 138 

Bowman House llj.0 

Land Delinquencies ,- 

Third Modification 191*3 

Assessment Policies 151 

Officials and Employees of the Diatrict 153 

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Early Leaders of the Association 

Functions of the Association 166 

Methods of Raising Honey 172 

Participation in State Water Problems 176 

Achievements of the Association 179 


Financial Problems 1930s I81j. 

Delinquent Lands 190 

Assessments and Tolls 195 

Distribution of Water 198 

Leadership 199 

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Family Background 

Baums First of all, I'd like to find out about your parents* 

Durbrow: My parents were both born In New York City* My 

father was Alfred K. Durbrow and ray mother was Clara 
Pierson, and they were both from old New Yorker fami 
lies. My father's family goes back in New York to my 
great-great-grandfather, who was married in 1776 in 
New York City. Ky father was straight English* 

My father's mother died when he was a year and 
a half old, so he was brought up by his grandfather. 
When my father was about eight years old he went to 
live with his father in Chicago for a short time* 
His father had gone to Chicago and there formed the 
firm of Durbrow and Hubbsrd. It was a very well- 
known concern at that time and they were importers 
of wheat from the middlewest country. And my father 
often spoke of the frozen hogs coming in on the top 
of the wheat. They operated a grsin elevator* 

BsumJ Frozen hogs? 

Durbrow t Oh, yes, that's the way they brought the hogs in. 
There was no refrigeration in those days. They 






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Durbrow: brought in the hogs frozen on top of the wheat* 
Baumr Frozen from the winter. Natural freezing, 
Durbrow: Natural freezing. Hubbard waa the man who later 

formed the packing concern which aold out to Armour. 
It waa the beginning of Armour & Company. 
Baumt Vhat was his first name? 

Durbrow j I don't know. I read a short history of Hubbard in 
the Saturday Fvenina Post one time. It said it waa 
the beginning of Armour & Company. But my grand* 
father waa not in the meat part of the business; he 
was in the grain business. He was there for just a 
few years. It was quite a journey from New York to 
Chicago at that time, circa ldi}.. 

Then ray grandfather, after that, in the late 
or early '50's, I eouldn*t say which, became agent for 
the Pacific Mail Steamship Company at Panama City. 
The railroad had Just been opened. Anyway, that waa 
the port of call of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company. 
Later, he was transferred and became the agent of the 
Pacific Kail Steamship Company at Oregon City in Ore 
gon, Later he was again transferred and, became the 
agent of Pacific Kail Steamship Company at Benloia, 
California. At that time it looked to some that 
Benecia would be the big city rather than San Fran- 


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Durbrow: cisco. The ships used to land there very largely. 
After that, I don't know about what time* it must 
have been before l 6 because my father came in '6, 
that my grandfather had gone to San Francisco, where 
he became manager of Parrott & Company Bank, which 
was one of the great private banks of that day. For 
many years ho was the manager of the Parrott & Company 

Baumt Had he taken his family, including your father, with 
him on these various jobs? 

Durbrow J No. My father lived in How York until he finished 

schooling, after which he had a Job for a short time 
in New York. Then he came to San Francisco to be with 
his father. He lived with his grandfather in New York, 
but he never lived with his father except in Chicago 
for a short time, after which he went back to New 
York and continued to live with his grandfather, Joseph 

As the agent for Parrott & Company Bank, my grand 
father, Joseph Durbrow, Jr., represented the Parrott 
interests. He was a director of the Spring Valley 
Water Company and the San Francisco Gas Company and 
various cable railroad companies in San Francisco and 
he was quite a well-known man at that time in San 


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Dr.rbrow: Francisco. I think that 1 a all about my grandfather 
Durbrow. He died in 1688. 

My mother came from the old Dutch of New York. 
Her mother, my grandmother, who lived with us, used 
to recite her Dutch ancestors, just for us children, 
back to Aneka Jans who owned Trinity Church property 
In Hew York City. We didn't keep the record, very 
foolishly, so we don't know very much about the old 
!>uteh ancestors, except that they came to New Amster 
dam in the seventeenth century. 

Then, on my mother's father's side it was Welsh 
and that goes way back* They came from Wales around 
1700, and one of the brothers, not my ancestor, but 
his brother, was the first president of Yale Univer 
sity* He was a Welshman named Abraham Pierson, and 
his statue is in Yale Yard today* 

My mother came to California in f 5>2. Her father, 
my grandfather Pierson, came in July f l}.9 so I'm entit 
led to be a member of the California Society of Pion 
eers, which I am. He went back to Hew York in '$1, to 
bring his family out* While there he contracted small 
pox* They had already purchased their tickets to come 
out to California. My grandmother, who was a strong 
character, who knew her way around all right, went down 

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"Durbrow: to get her money back from the tickets because of the 
smallpox. They said, "No, nothing doing," They 
wouldn't return the money for the tickets* So she 
said, "All right, I'll bring him down and we'll go 
anyway " So she got her money back, (laughter) 

My grandmother really ran her family* My grand 
father, Joseph D. Pierson, was kind of a dreamer* My 
grandmother earned money in New York as a flag maker, 
which was quite a profession in those days, making 
flags of all sorts. It was a funny thing* My mother 
and father went back to New York some time in the 
1920 's. They found this neighborhood, which is in 
lower New York, where my grandmother lived and made 
flags and there was a sign, "So and So, Maker of 
Flags," fifty years afterwards. New York, with sll 
its growth since 1852, hadn't changed as to that 
neighborhood and there was still the flag maker there* 

Baums I take it your parents were married in California then. 

Durbrow: Oh yes, they were married in California. 

Baurat What was your father's occupation? 

Ihirbrow: When he first came to California in '56 he was in the 
warehouse business. Then he was an accountant, and 
was sent up to North Sen Juan, up above Nevada City, in 
*6?, as secretary for a water company that supplied 





Durbrow: water for hydraulic mining* I ran many of thoae 

same ditches in later years. The president of the 
company was Alpheua Bull, a very well-known Calif orn- 
ian. He became president of this company and aent ray 
father up there to straighten out the accounts and be 
secretary of the Eureka Lakes and Yuba Consolidated 
Water Company. Later Bull loat control of the com 
pany and my father returned to San Francisco in '68, 
He was only there a little over a year* After that 
he became secretary of several of the Coma took mines, 
the Gould and Curry mine in particular* He was secre 
tary of verious mines in Nevada and California until 
his death at ninety- two years of age in 1929* 

Bourn: *hen he didn't actually do mining himself. He was on 
the financial end of it, 

Durbrow: He was the secretary in San Francisco, and as secre 
tary he knew and had contact with most of the well- 
known characters of the Comatock Lode, like Fair, and 
Maokay and Flood. They were people that he knew quite 

Baum: I was wondering what your father* a interests were. 
&id he like to read or,.. sports? 

Durbrowi He was a great reader. As a young man he was quite a 
sport too. He liked boating particularly. They had 

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Durbrows a boat, an eight-oared boat, on San Francisco Bay* 
And than ha alao liked hunting, I recollect a pic 
ture, when I was a boy , in my room of aome well-known 
men in San Francisco who were on a hunting party* Ha 
waa alao a charter member of the Olympic Club of San 
Francisco* There were 22 charter members and he waa 
the last to die. Of course, ha sobered down whan he 
married my mother* (laughter) 

My mother and father were quite religious* My 
father was brought up as an Episcopalian, as moat of 
the English were* My grandmother on my mother* a side 
was of the Dutch Reform Church in Hew York, which is 
similar to the Presbyterian Church, and whan they came 
to San Francisco in '2 they Joined the Presbyterian 
Church, And so my mother waa a Presbyterian and my 
father compromised, and he became a Presbyterian too, 
(laughter) And he became rather a well-known Pres 
byterian, He was treasurer of Calvery Church in San 
Francisco for a long tirae. They were not fanatically 
religious but brought the family up to attend church* 

Baumt What was your mother's education? 

DurbrowJ My mother went through primary and prararaar schools in 
San Francisco and entered the San Praneiaeo High 
School when it was first organised and graduated from 


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Purbrow: it. That was all, aha didn't go any further than 

Baum: And what was your father 'a education? 

Durbrovs My fathar'a education was private. He vent to pri 
vate achoola in New York and Connecticut and New 
Jersey. He was going to Columbia Univeralty but he 
came to California inatead. 

Baum! What were your mother 'a intereats? 

Durbrowl Mother waa very rauoh interested in social work. She 
waa preaident of Buford Kindergarten Aaaociation, one 
of the early private kindergartens, which of course 
no longer exists. Moat of her Intereats were of that 
sort. She waa quite social, with many friends. She 
waa a well-educated woman* 

Baura: Could she help your father in hla accounting work? 

Durbrow: No, There waa no meeting of the minds in hi a work. 
Father had his work and he was quite poaitive about 

Childhood in San Francisco 


Durbrow: I grew up in San Francisco. I waa born December 

1876 in San Francisco on Washington Street between 

Polk and Larkin and grew up there. 

How many brothera and sisters did you have? 




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Durbrow: I had three brothers and two sisters. I'm the 

youngest brother and ray Bister, Mrs, Clara D. Buckbee, 
is the youngest sister. The oldest brother was 
Pierson, then Charles Joseph, and then there was 
Katharine and then there was Alfred, named after my 
father, and then I came, and then my sister Clara* 

Baumt And where did you all attend school? 

Durbrowt We all attended school in San Francisco. All of us 

boys went to the Clement Grammer School, which is now 
no longer existing. That was on Geary Street near 
Jones. I started, as did my brother Alfred, in the 
Pacific Heights School in San Francisco but only 
stayed there for a few years because my father didn't 
like the teaching. So we went to Clement Grammer, 
where my two older brothers had graduated. 

Baum: How did ell you girls and boys get along together? 

Durbrow: Oh, we got along all right. Of course my older bro 
thers tried to lord it over us younger ones, but we 
managed to make a go of it. 

Baum: You say your grandmother lived with you? 

Durbrow: My grandmother Pierson lived with us until she died. 
She died when I was about 12 years old... 

Baum: And I take it your grandfather hod died before that? 

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Durbrow: No, my grandfather Pleraon lived to be 92 and he 

lived up the street* He was something of e recluse. 
He had a shop. He was a cabinet-maker. He made 
wonderful things. But he was a recluse, and loved to 
study and read. That was his life. He was well-sup 
ported by my uncle who was well-to-do and my father. 
My mother owned the home where he lived. T hey were 
not divorced but separated. My grandfather never 
came down to our house regularly until ray grandmother 
died. Then each week I'd bring him down for dinner 
on a Thursday night. I'd bring him down the hill on 
my arm and so I learned quite a little about him. 
He was quite an interesting old man, although as I 
say, he was kind of a recluse. Hever much a supporter 
of his family. 

Bauxn: And a dreamer you say. 

Durbrow: And a dreamer* Before he came Vest he joined up with 
a Horace Oreeley sponsored colony in New York. 

BauiaJ What did your brothers and sisters do when they grew 


Durbrow: Well, my oldest brother was an insure nee, men, employed 
by the Aetna Insurance Company. When he retired he 
was the oldest employee in San Francisco of the Aetna 
Insurance Company. He retired when he was 70 and he 








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Durbrowt became an insurance broker. He kept his offices, which 
were supplied him by the Aetna Insurance Company, in 
the Mills Building in San Francisco. 

Baumt You mean after he retired at 70? 

Durbrowi After he retired, yes, he still remained a broker* Ha 
always went to his office. 

And my brother Charles waa with Selby Smelting 
and Lead Company. He went there right from high 
school, as my older brother went very shortly after 
high school into the insurance... and neither of them 
had any other Job, just what they first went into. 
My brother Charles became secretary of Selby 
Smelting and Lead Company, which later became the 
American Smelting and Refining Company, which company 
acquired it. It's a national concern. But Selby 
Smelting and Lead Company was a very well-known San 
Francisco local company. One of San Francisco's pio 
neer companies. They used to smelt the silver and 
gold that came from the mines and turn the bullion over 
to the mint. 

My father was a stockholder of Selby Smelting 
and Lead Company. He also represented certain mines 
which sent their ore and concentrates down. He used 
to go across to the Selby Smelting and Lead Company 

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Durbrov: at their place near Crockett on Cerqulnez Straits to 
see if shipments were properly sampled* 

Baura: Is that how your brother went to work there? 

Durbrow: Of course, ray father knew all of the Selby people, 
which probably helped* The head of the company was 
A. J. Ralston, the brother of W. C, Ralston, the 
early day banker* I knew him quite well* A* J. 
Ralston was very highly thought of in San Francisco* 
My brother was head of the ore purchasing department 
and later became secretary of the company and remained 
there until he retired* 

My brother Alfred was not a very good student* 
He did not go to high school but became a salesman for 
the Cowell Cement Company, and when he died at 72 was 
employed by the Southern Pacific Hospital in San Fran 
cisco, He wes a member of the Olympic Club, was a 
good teller of stories, and very popular with a large 
circle of friends* 

Baum: And your sisters msrried, I suppose? 

Durbrow: My oldest sister married W. W* Sanderson, who was st 
one time one of the supervisors of San Francisco, at s 
very interesting time in San Francisco's history. San 
Francisco had Just gone through the terrible scandal 
of the Schnitz and Huef time and a man named Taylor 

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THirbrow: was made the major of San Francisco and he selected 
his own board of supervisors and ray brother-in-law 
was one of them. 

Baton: How come your brother-in-law was selected? 

Durbrow: He was a friend of Taylor's and a well-known attorney. 
He was not particularly prominent, but he was very 
well-known and well -liked. 

Baum: Did he favor the Heteh Hetchy purchase or not? 

Durbrow: Oh yes, very definitely, San Francisco had already 
purchased the Spring Valley Water Company. Heteh 
Hetchy was looked to as a future source of water. 
^hey didn't actually purchase it, but the Taylor 
board laid the foundation for its purchase and did 
a lot of other forward-looking things in San Francisco, 
It was a very fine board of supervisors. 

My youngest sister married Spencer G. Buckbee, 
who organized the firm of Shainwald, Buckbee Company, 
which later became Buckbee, Thome & Co. in San Fran 
cisco. A well-known real estate firm. 

Baum: ^t sounds like none of your brothers went to college. 

How come you decided to go? 

Durbrow: Well, I went to college because I just wanted to go. 
Many of my intimate friends were going to the Univer 
sity of California and I wanted to go. At first my 








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Durbrow: father didn't want me to go to college because he 
thought thet I was going Just to have a good time, 
which was probably true,., (laughter) But anyway, 
my brother Charles stepped in and offered to pay part 
of the expense and kind of shamed Bather into it* And 
of course, my father took it over very shortly. But 
anyway, that's the way I started to college* 
-eumz Why did the select the University instead of.., 

DurbrowJ Well, I selected the University because ray very intim- 
ate friends in high school were all going to the Uni 
versity. Very few were going to Stanford at that time. 


Student Days at the University of California 


Bauzn: Why did you choose engineering as a profession? 

Durbrow: Originally I intended to go into law when I was in 

high school* Hy uncle, my mother's brother, William M. 
Pierson, was a very prominent lawyer in San Francisco, 
the first attorney of the P. 0. & E. Co* end the writer 
of the James G. Fair will. I intended to study law 
and go into his office* And then one day my father in 
vited to dinner a mining man from Mono County, a very 
interesting character. And he got to talking to me 
about mining end the need for mining engineers and 
right there, I decided I would become a mining engin 
eer. I don't know why, but I did* He was an enthu- 


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Durbrow: slaatle sort of man and that's the reason I became a 
mining engineer* 

Baum: Are you glad you became an engineer instead of an 

Durbrow* Well, that's s moot question* I don't know. But I've 
had a very interesting life as an engineer* Not as s 
mining engineer although I was connected for a time 
with mines, particularly with gold dredging, but I 
never practiced much actual mining* In a very few 
years I got into water and irrigation which has been 
my life work. 

Baums How did you like your time at the University? 

Durbrow: I enjoyed my university life very much. I have rea 
lized since that it was the best and most care-free 
time of my whole life. 

I was a good student. I was a "B" student right 
straight through. Very few "As* and no "Cs" thst I 
can remember. Mathematics came very easy to me snd I 
have always said I got through rather too easily. 

Baum: So you didn't have to work too hard for those *B f s w * 

Durbrow: Ko, I didn't have to work too herd. The only time I 
came near failing was rather an interesting thing. In 
my Junior year I got into quite other activities. And 
when I came to take the examination for a hard course. 

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Durbrow: my mid-year, which, was Analytic Mechanics, I was just 
worn out from too many extra-curricular activities. 
Whether I was sick I don't remember; anyway, I turned 
the paper in and there was nothing on it* 

Then after that I was very much worried* I passed 
all my other examinations and got good marks but on 
that one I just couldn't do it. And a friend of mine, 
who became a great friend, Karl Krug, who was in my 
class in Engineering also had failed in the examination 
so he went over to find out about it* And Professor 
Raymond, whom I thought a great deal of, told him, 
"Krug," he said, "you better quit. You can't make it. 
You haven't got the background to get through this 
course." So he quit the University although he be 
came a very well-known mining engineer afterwards. 
But t hen Krug said, "How about Durbrow? He wasn't 
feeling well that dey. n n You tell Durbrow to forget 


it. He can make it all right," he said* "Tell him to 
come and I'll give him another examination." So that 
was all right, and I passed easily. 

Professor iieskell (Kellen Woodman Haskell) was a 
mathematics teacher* Of course, we knew the teachers 
personally in those days, ^hen there was Professor 
Rising (Villa rd Bradley Hieing) whom I knew very well. 

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Durbrowi He was a very well-known professor of chemistry. 

Natter of fact, it was at Professor Rising* s house 
that I proposed to my wife. 

Baumi Then you knew your teachers quite well? 

Durbrows Oh yes. We knew them well, and of course the Rising 
girlsthere were two girls in the Rising family 
they were great friends of my wife* But there was s 
spirit of friendliness and community feeling in the 
University at that time. It was a smaller college, 
of course. Some of the classes were fairly large 
like Professor LeConte 's in geology. Professor Le- 
Conte had a very large class* It was merely a lecture 
class. It was a wonderful course. 

Be urn: Did you take that? 

Durbrowi Oh yes, I took that because geology was one of my sub* 
jeets. And then Professor Lawson, Andrew Laws on, was 
also my teacher in geology. I thought a great deal 
of him. He was a very fine teacher. He became a very 
noted geologist... all over the United States in fact. 
But Professor Joseph LeConte's name probably goes down 
as one of the great geologists of that time. 

Baums Very popular teacher too. 

Durbrowi Very popular. Professor John LeConte was dead before 

I went to college. Professor Joseph LeConte had a son, 



Durbrow: Joseph N. LeConte, who became professor of engineering. 
And then one of the professors who gave us probably 
more one of the beat courses and yet one of the 
hardest courses in the University waa the eourae in 
Analytic Mechanics, which was given by Professor 
Frederick Slate and Professor William Raymond* The 
two of them together. One gave the problems and the 
other gave the theoretical.. 

Aa to Professor Christy, head of the mining de 
partment, I don't think he was a particularly inspiring 
teacher* He never struck me so* 

Baum? What did you think of the library there? 

Durbrow t You see, I was a mining engineering student and we 
dldn f t uae the library very much* 

Baum: $id you have your own engineering library in the Engin 
eering Building? 

Durbrow: Mining Engineering generally waa in its infancy at my 
time* As to other engineering there was only one man 
registered as a civil engineer in my time. I suppose 
there were twenty electrical engineers and some few 
mechanical engineers, and there were twenty- two of ua 
mining engineers who graduated. 

Baura: That was the big department of the Engineering Depart 
ment. .. 

Durbrow: No, I think the Electrical department waa... electri- 


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Durbrowt city was coming to the front at that time in Cali 

As a mining student we had a lot of civil engi 
neering, and as a matter of fact, I'm a licensed civil 
engineer in the state of California today, number 69. 

Baumt I was wondering if you had much practical work in 

your engineering course or was it mostly theoretical? 

Durbrowt My engineering course I don't think was particularly 
thorough in those days. The engineering courses are 
today much better in preparing a man for his profes 
sion. I think the background was good, the mathemati 
cal and chemical and physical studies were good. As 
I say I got no enthusiasm for going into mining it 
self when I took the mining course. Of course, after 
all, a person educates himself largely after he gets 
out of college. College gives him his basic back 
ground and his later work and experience really edu 
cates him. I know men in my class at college who were 
not good students but became very fine engineers later, 
but I think it's largely because they study and gain 
experience after they get out of college, with the 
background they got from college. 

Baums Were the students serious about their professions? 

Durbrowt Oh yes, I think that's true. In my tine nobody went 



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Durbrowi to college except when he was headed for a profession 
of some sort* Very few went just to get an education. 

Baumi Were there many play boys there? 

Durbrowt Very few. As I remember even the fellows who were 

rolling in money and were sort of play boys, moat of 
them had objectives* They were there to educe te them 
selves aa engineers* or attorneys or something of that 
aort. We had a good many in my time who "became prom 
inent attorneya and there were many who became promin 
ent engineers. One of my most intimate friends in 
college, and in high school too, became the heed of 
the San Francisco Water Department aa an engineer, 
Kelson Eekart. He's still living. He's retired. 
There were others who were studying the basics to be 
come doctors. One of my most intimate friends was a 
doctor, Henry Walter Gibbons. He became quite a 
prominent doctor in San Francisoo and later Sacramento. 

Baumi Well, you had to take some general education courses, 
didn't you? 

Durbrowi Not many. 

Baums Mostly they were straight technical engineering? 

Durbrow: Yes. That is one criticism I have, that we were not 
given enough general education. I think I took only 
one English course which was a basic English course. 





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Durbrow: We didn't think much of it. Otherwise there were no 
general courses* 

Baumi How did you meet these fellows who were later to be 

come attorneys end doctors? 

: : 

Durbrow! Oh, the college was small in that time; everybody knew 
nearly everybody else In the class* I started in with 
a class of 400 people and graduated in a class of 200* 
And of course the upper classes, being smaller, I 
knew most of them* And particularly members of other 
fraternities, you*d know them quite well* 

Baumt Were there many girls in the University then? 

Durbrow: Veil, yes, there were a good many girls in the Univer 
sity, not as many as boys, but there was a good sprink 
ling of girls. Most of the girls were going to be 

Baum: What did you do for fun? 


Durbrow: Oh, I had my extra-curricular activities* I was a 

T.N.E. (Theta Hu Epsilon) which was a kind of secret 
Sophomore society which wasn't known until you be 
came a Junior, because you got into all kinds of 
activities you shouldn't have* Then I was a Skull and 
Keys. And also my fraternity was Phi Gamma Delta, 
known as the "Fijis." 





; . '-: 





Oh, I had a good time. In my Junior year, the prin 
ciple activity I got Into mostly was the Junior Day 
and the Junior Farce. A very intimate friend of mine, 
Harold Symmea, wrote the Junior Faroe. It was called 
the "Duke of Oldenburg." I was the hero of the farce. 
The girl that I married was the heroine. Of course, I 
had known her for some time because I used to meet her 
at the Presbyterian Church in San Francisco, but not 

well. I remember very well walking up Stiles Hall 

steps. I didn't know what pert I was going to take 

in this play, and we were just going up to the first 
rehearsal. Aa I came up to her, I turned to her and 
said, "And what part have you in this farce?" She 
looked at me astonished and said, "Why I'm the heroine." 
And I said, "What part have I got?", and she said, "Why, 
you're the hero." (laughter) And that was the first 
meeting and I fell in love right there. And that was 
the girl I married. It was quite a college romance* 
What was your wife studying? 


IHirbrow: My wife only went as far as the Junior class. She got 

Junior standing, that's the reason why she could be- 

' ! : ', ' 

come a member of the American University Women. But 
then in my Senior year, she was in Boston, studying to 









Durbrowt be a kindergarten teacher* And I think aha went to 

Boston so aa to leave me alone and to decide what she 
wanted to do. So it was quite a year of letter-writ 

Baumi I see* You graduated in 1899* 

Pur brow: 1899, and she, just before I graduated, came out from 
Boston and we became engaged* Class :) ay, which ia the 
great day I guess it is now, isn't it anyway, our 
engagement was announced* It wasn't supposed to be 
announced, but those kind of things leak out* Wher 
ever we went, to different houses, everybody was out 
to congratulate us. 

Bauras When did you marry herT 

Durbrowt I married her just the year after I graduated. We 
were married in October 1900, and our daughter 
Terrill was born in November 1901, in San Francisco. 

A Family of Five Children 

Baumt What was your wife's maiden name? 

Durbrow: Blanche Terrill. 

Bourn: Did she teach kindergarten after you were married? 

Durbrow: No, she never taught* 

Baum: What were her particular interests? 

Durbrow: Hers was raising a family. We raised a family of five 




Durbrowt children. And she was e very wonderful person end 
mother. She came from very interesting people too. 
Her mother was a teacher and graduated from a school 
in Hew Hampshire. And then she came out here end 
married Mr. Terrlll, who came from Kentucky. Her 
maiden name was Bailey and they came from New England. 
He was from Kentucky so my wife was a mixture of 
southern Kentuckian and New England* 

Baumt What was your wife's father 1 s occupation? 

Durbrow: He was a farmer in Kentucky but came to California 
in l8i|9. He came here to mine gold and he was suc 
cessful enough to go back into Missouri where his 
people had moved from Kentucky and buy e ranch, s 
section of land, and then he was a judge back there} 
not being a lawyer, I imagine a municipal judge or 
something of that sort... Justice of the peace, I 
don't know what it was. &ut anyway, later he came out 
to Davis, then 1'avisvllle, California, where my wife 
was born, and established first a general store which, 
I think, must have been in the late fifties, probably, 
or the early sixties, I'm not sure. But, first he es 
tablished a general store. Then in 18?6 he built some 
brick buildings there which I still own... 

Bauroi In DavisT 



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Durbrow: In Davis. Then he gave up that and vent into farming 
up near Willows* Not the property that we later 
farmed but property leased from the Glides* Do you 
know who the Glides were? 

I S~j ' * . 

Bauroi Ho. 

Durbrow: He was a very large landowner in the Sacramento Valley* 
Mrs, Glide, his widow, was a big philanthropist. Rob* 
ert Terrill, my wife's father* farmed part of his 
property and did very well. He died when my wife was 
eight years old. He knew he was going to die so he 
bought his wife a piece of property in Santa Cruz* 
where my wife's uncle. Dr. Bailey, was living. It was 
home to her mother and that was where my wife was 
brought up. She lived there till she was about 
eighteen years old. Then she came to San Francisco 
after her mother died. 

My oldest daughter was born in San Francisco in 
1901. Her name is Terrill. She didn't go to the 
University. She went to San Francisco State College. 
She had polio when she was about 17 years old. She 
was married when she was 20, and vent to, Alaska to 
live. Her husband, Thomas K. Donoho, a graduate of 
Stanford, became a very well-known attorney in Alaska 
and she raised her family in Alaska. Terrill has 
three boys. 





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Burbrowt My second daughter, Katharine, waa born in Orovllle 
in 1903* She graduated from the University of Cali 
fornia and became a high school teacher and is now 
living in Seattle, married to a professor. His name 
ia Rosa, T. J. Rosa, No children* 

Then, my third child was William Jr., who vaa 
born in Oroville in 1906. He ia married to Gladys 
French and has four children* Be lives in Sacramento 
and ia an engineer with the State Water Department* 

Baums Oh, he it* 

Durbrow t Yea* 

Baumt Quite a water family* 

Durbrow: Yea, a water family* 

Then, my fourth child ia Robert Terr ill and he 
hat been married twice. By his firat wife he has 
two boys that are now fairly grown and by his second 
wife has one child* Both my sons were captaina in 
the army in the second World War* Bill waa injured aa 
hia company was loading supplies at Fort Ord and waa 
unable to go over aeaa, so he stayed on the Pacific 
Coaat in the Engineering Department of the army* 
Robert waa an officer in the Cadeta at Berkeley, 
graduated a lieutenant and he went all through the 
war* Never in any very large engagements, except the 
Battle of the Bulge. He haa kept up hia standing in 
the army and ia now a major in the Army Reserves. But 

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Durbrow: I might say that before he went to war* .he first 

went to DP vis and put in tvo years of college at Davis, 
then went to Berkeley and graduated from Berkeley in 
agriculture. Then he took a post-graduate course at 
California Polytechnic at San Luis Obispo. After he 
came back from the war in 19^4-6 he was appointed as 
executive secretary of the Irrigation Districts Asso 
ciation end has been such ever since* Since he has 
been with the association it has grown largely. 

Then my youngest child is Ceeile, Blanche Cecile, 
named after her mother. She married a mining engineer 
named Robert E Baker, also a graduate of the Univer 
sity and she also is a graduate of the University. They 
live now at Long Island in New York. She has been all 
over the country end Canada, as a mining engineer's 
wife. They have two children. 

Baum: You have quite a few grandchildren. 

Purbrowt I have twelve grandchildren and six great-grandchild- 

ffjrst Jobs A Mining Engineer 

"urbrow! The first job I had was at a copper smelter with the 
Mountain Copper Company, Ltd., in Shasta County, as a 
chemist. I got that Job through Professor Haskell. 
He recommended me. Professor Haskell and possibly 

- . . tv 







I>urbrow: Professor Rising also. I was with the Mountain Copper 
Company for two years and I was married while there. 
I liked the Job in the smelter very much and I think 
should have probably stayed there as I was due for 

Baums This was your mining engineer experience? 

Durbrowt Yes, but it was in metallurgy rather than mining. As 
I was not making much money in that Job I accepted an 
offer from Selby Smelting and Lead Company to go to 
the west coast of South America on a trip to induce 
the shipments of ores to California. So I went to 
South America in April 1900 and came back Just before 
Terrill was born. I left my wife here as she was ex 
pecting the baby. She lived at my father 1 a house. I 
spent six months in South America. A very interesting 

The two people who had been sent before both ac 
complished nothing for the company, but my trip was 
successful in getting shipments of ore to Selby Smelt 
ing and Lead Company. Well, I not only went for Selby 
but also for the Tacoma Smelting Company, of Tacome, 
Washington. I represented both companies. 

Baumt With the mission to get ore sent to San Francisco? 

Durbrow: Or Tacoma. Most of the ore from the west coast of 


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Durbrow: South America was shipped to Germany, to the East 
Coast, to England, and probably Frence too... and I 
had to know all those different monetary systems so 
that I could tell them what they would gain If they 
shipped to the West Coast* 

Baum: You say you were successful. 

Durbrow: Yes. 

Baumt Do you have any opinion as to how you were able to 

persuade them to send ore when ore had not been pre 
viously been coming this way? 

Durbrow: It may have been just the times* South America as you 
know is very often mixed up in various revolutions. 
When I got there it was a peaceful time and I met the 
right people and I guess I did a fairly good job of 
inducing them to try to ship to California and to the 
state of Washington. 

Baum: Was there any price factor in there? 

Durbrow: *es, the matter of price and shipping costs all had 

to be considered* Also, one of the reasons 1 was sue* 
cessful was that there was a new line of ships at that 
time sailing from San Francisco to South American ports. 
It was English owned. That helped because it was di 
rect communication. 

Baum: Well, did these ore shipments continue after you left 
the country? 

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Durbrowi Well, for some years, I don't know how long. ..I left 
the company a little time later. The trip did some 
good for my employers. 

was a very interesting trip. While I was there 
I became very friendly with the head of the railroad 
that went up from Callas to the summit of the Andes, 
where it goes through the Galera Tunnel. I made two 
trips with him and on the second trip I was asked to 
look at a mine near the summit. I didn't know much 
about mining, but had been studying smelting snd I had 
intended to stay in that business... 

Baum: Is that what you were doing for the Mountain Copper 

Durbrowt Smelting, yes. At that time the people who owned the 
mine engaged me to buy a smelter in California and to 
ship it to South America and to Install it down there, 
which I considered myself capable of doing. But I 
didn't know anything about the mine. In other words, 
I hadn't been in mining enough to expertly say whether 
a mine is a good mine or not. So I said I would hire 
a man to go down and tell them about the- mine and 
about the development of the mine. T hey thought 
enough of the mine to put up the money to buy a smel 

Baumi They had no engineers down there? 


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Durbrovt Well, they had engineers, but not aa good as ours* 

So I came up hero* I intended to send a man from 
the Mountain Copper Company whom I knew well and was 
quite intimate with, but he had taken another job* So 
at that time my friend, Krug, was available and I sent 
him* They liked him very nuch* He went over the mine 
very thoroughly and turned it down* And we both lost 
our Jobs, (laughter) I had to turn down all the eon* 
tracts, return and pay for such parts of the smelter 
as had been partly constructed* 

Karl Krug 

Beura: Yes, you mentioned your friend, Karl Krug* 
Durbrow: Yea* Krug and I were classmates. He was a great base 
ball player, one of the best players California ever 
had. When he was quite a young man* his father, Charles 
Krug of the Charles Krug winery, died. His father was 
known as the father of wine making in California* 

I knew the family very well* There were three 
girls and this one boy. At the end of our Freshman 
year Krug and I went up to Grass Valley to work in the 
mines. I was a novice and he had worked in the minea 
before and knew something more about their operation. 
We worked as laborers in the mine. At the end of our 
Sophomore year we went up there again and worked in 







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Durbrowl the nines again during our summer vacation. 

Krug didn't finish college. He failed to pass 
in the Junior year and was advised not to continue 
because he didn't have the necessary preparation in 
mathematics to graduate as an engineer. He vent to 
Alaska and stayed for several years, until 1900. 

The I sent Krug to s outh America to look over 
the mine I mentioned* When he turned that down, we 
were both out of n job. I went baek into Selby as en 
asseyor for about a year. He went up to Orovllle and 
became an engineer for the Lava Beds Dredging Company, 
Shortly after he got up there he induced the people 
who owned the property, who also owned the Oroville 
Water Company and the Oroville Light and Power Company, 
to invite me to become the engineer and manager of 
those properties* At the time I was with Selby Smelt* 
ing and Lead Company. I went up and became the engineer 
end manager of the Oroville Water Company and the Oro- 


ville Light and Power Company, and that's the way I 
happened to become interested in water. It was 

largely through Krug, who, in returning the favor of 
my sending him to South America, that got me the Job. 
What happened to Krug after that? 

Ihirbrowx Krug became a very well-known dredge operator, gold 







DurbrowJ dredging. He lived until about 1911 and then died 

of a cancer which ha thinks he got by a ball hitting 
him in the aide and cauaing a bruise 

Baum: You aey his father died. Did the Charles Krug winery 
go out of the Krug family? 

Durbrow: The Krug family failed and the property went into the 
hands of J. K. Moffitt, who was a friend of Charles 
Krug. Moffitt owned it for many, many years. I don't 
know whether he sold it before he died or not. It 
then went into the hands of Mondavi & Sons. It's the 
same winery, rebuilt with additions, built by Krug, 
the same vineyard, but it's now operated by Mondavi* 

Entry into Water Engineering and Management- 
Pro Water, Light and Power Company 

Durbrow: So through Krug I was employed to go to Oroville as 

the engineer and manager of the Oroville Water Com 
pany, and the Oroville Light and Power Company, and I 


might say that I've been interested in water ever 

since. I was the manager and engineer of these com 
panies. Then ray employers, who also had large interests 
in gold dredging, bought out the other interests in 
the water company and the power company and consolidat 
ed and became the Oro Water, Light and Power Company 
and then later it was renamed and called the Oro Elec- 

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Durbrowj trie Corporation* Under the Oroville Water Company, 
and the Oroville Light and Power Company, when they 
were consolidated, I built two power planta on the 
we at branch of the Feather Hirer, which are a till 
operating. They belong now to P, d. & E. Then after 
X got through there, I was transferred to an office 
in San Francisco and I lived in Berkeley for seven 

This is while you 1 !* still working for the sane com 

Same company, from 1908 to 1913 I was in Berkeley as 
a consulting engineer* I traveled all over the west 
ern part of the United States looking for dredging 
properties or water properties* 

Baumi They purchased properties all over the West Coast? 

Ihirbrowt Well, no they didn't. There was very little property 
purchased. Some dredging property that I recommended, 
they did purchase. But moat of it, they f d look at, 
but bought very few. 

Baum: But they were planning to expand? 

Durbrow: They were trying to expand in the power business. T hey 
built a steam plant in Stockton and intended to build 
a greet big plont up on the Feather River. I had done 
quite a little engineering work up on the Feather 






Durbrowl River and on other streams for the company* 

Baum: Where did they get their money? Was this from the 

sale of power mainly? 

Durbrowt No, all from dredging. Gold dredging* 
Baum: Oh, so they were still mainly gold dredging* 
Durbrow: And also the two power plants that I had built were 

making money, but not enough to do all this work* Then 
they sold a big bond issue under Oro Electric Corpora* 
tion. T hat wes their undoing* 
Baum: This was for power expansion, that they sold the bond 


Durbrow : Yes, And as those things go, they ran into a terrible 
mess. And I got out* As a matter of fact, I was a 
stockholder in the Oro Water, Light and Power Company* 
And I sold ray stock* And for a time I got out of the 
company, but I came back to it* The president didn't 
like that* He said that I didn*t hove confidence* I 
saw it was going bad, I sold at a good profit* I 
made some twenty thousand dollars out of the stock. 
Baum: You sold your stock but you continued to work for 

them, is that it? 

Durbrow: Well, I left the company for a while after I sold my 
stock, but they wanted me to come back* 

While I was out of the Oro Water, Light and Power 







*.>r.;vv vs 

Durbrowt Company for part of a year, I went into the contract 
ing business and formed a partnership and built some 
ditches in the Madeline Plains up in Northern Califor 
nia. That's about all there was to it. I didn't make 
any money and I didn't enjoy the experience very much, 
but it was a fill-in while I was sway from the Oro 
Water, Light and Power Company. 

Baurat What year did you sell your stock? Do you remember 

Durbrowt Oh, I sold my stock about 1913* 

Baum: Was this when they were building the Stockton power 

Durbrow: Well yes, they were building the Stockton power plant 
and they were going to do a lot of other things that I 
did not approve of* 

Baum: w hy did you think they were getting into a mess? 

Durbrowt I could see it coming about. 

Baum: Apparently you were right. But what made you think so? 

Durbrowt Well, they were over-spending themselves* They were 
spending more money in San Francisco on the general 
offices than they were in the field building things. 
It looked to me like a phoney transaction. In other 
words, nobody was accused of stealing money but it 
was simply poor financial management by the president 


^i - ; j 




DurbrowJ of the company. I wasn't manager at that time. I vaa 
just a consulting engineer but I could aee how things 
were going. And I was pretty close to the president; 
I knew him pretty well. Re was very friendly to me and 
I used to go down to his house quite often. But I 
didn't like the way he was operating. And I told him 
so. So finally I got out in 1915* 

Baum: I think in those years, weren't a lot of power com 

panies competing with each other? 

DurbrowJ Yes, they were. It was dog eat dog at that time. 

There was the northern California Power Company that 
was organized by some people up north whom I knew. 
And then this company, and oh, there was a company on 
the Stanislaus River, and then there's the San Jos* 
quin Light and Power Compsny. And they were all more 
or less competing. And as I say, it was dog eat dog. 
It was considered good business if you could do it, 
to go into another person's territory and steal all 
their customers, underbid them, or in some way force 
them to sell out* And that continued until the Hail* 
road Commission was given greater powers, It was 
still called the Railroad Commission, but they were 
given the powers of a public utility commission and 
later they were celled the Public Utility Commission. 


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Durbrow: After that, things became quite different. 

Baum: They didn't let you go in and steal another company's 

Durbrow: Oh no,... your rates were controlled, your territory was 
controlled, and everything was controlled* 

Baum: Did the Railroad Commission have anything to do with 
the failure of the Oro Electric Corporation? 

Durbrow: Not as I remember. The failure of the Oro Electric 

was simply that the people became critical of the fi 
nancial set-up and the bonds went down in price and 
finally the P. 0. & E. Co. took it over. 

Baum: Back when you were the manager, was it at that time 
that it was a smaller operation? 

Durbrow: Yes, it was a smaller operation. 

Baum: And they were doing gold dredging? 

Durbrow: We supplied our own gold dredges with power, and some 
other gold dredges with power. And also we supplied 
the town of Oroville with power. 

Baum: Did you supply water? 

Durbrow: Yes. We supplied water to the town of Oroville as 
well as to some gold dredges. 

Baum: Were you in the irrigation business too? 

Durbrow: Yes, we were in the irrigation business. Across the 
river from Oroville is Thermalito, a citrus colony. 




. . 

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Durbrow: And we supplied water to them* It was a pipeline 

proposition. So at that time I was in the water busi 

Beum: Were you in the gold dredging end of the business? 

Durbrow! Well* I was to some extent* When my friend, Krug, 

died... he died quite young, before all this trouble... 
and I was asked by the president of the company, to 
more or less look after the dredging in a general way. 
I wasn't in charge of the gold dredges directly, but 
I used to go up and consult with the superintendents 
and suggest any changes. I was kind of general manager 
and that was for a short time. That was before I got 

Bauro: You mentioned before that out of the Oro Water, Power 
and Electric Company came the Table Mountain Irriga 
tion District and I wondered if you could fill in that 
for me? 

Durbrow: Well, the Oro Water, Light and Power and Company owned 
the Miacene Ditlch which took out of the west branch 
of the north fork of the Feather River and, after going 
through two power plants, was the source, of water for 
not only supplying Orovllle with water but Thermal! to, 
wi ich was an irrigated area, with water, and it also 
supplied the area that later became the Table Mountain 

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Durbrowf Irrigation District. In fact, it wasn't irrigated at 
that time, but we did serve some little water from 
the ditch. 

The Kiacene Ditioh is the diteh which had been 
built by the early mining interests for hydraulic 
mining near Oroville, Thompson Flat area mostly. When 
hydraulic mining was stopped then the Hiacene Diteh 
was used as a purveyor of water for the Oroville area, 
and it was on this diteh that we built the two power 
plants, the Lime Saddle Power Plant and Coal Canyon 
Power Plant, which are still operating and belong now 
to the P. G. & E. That power was used not only to 
supply Oroville but it was used also to supply our 
dredges and some others with power and the water from 
the ditch was also used to supply some of the dredges 
with water, and for various other purposes that water 
was used for. 

There were two sources of water in Oroville. One 
was the ro Water, Light end Power Company and one was 
the Palermo Water Company, which was owned by the 
Hearst Interests. They used it for irrigating around 
Palermo, which is south of Oroville, and also to supply 
a certain small portion of the city of Oroville. During 
my time we purchased the Palermo Water Company, that 
is, the portion of the Palermo Water Company that sup- 








Durbrowt plied part of Oroville, s o we supplied all of Oroville 
after that. 

Baumt The competition between two companies must have been 
disastrous as far as rates were concerned* 

Durbrow: No, they didn't compete, They supplied separate 

areas* &ut when we took it over, we supplied all the 
town of Oroville. 

Baum: Do you know how the Table Mountain Irrigation District 

came to be formed? 

Durbrowt That was formed by getting water from the Miacene 

Ditch or its extension known as the Powers Ditch. As 
the country grew up, they wanted to irrigate a larger 
area end they formed an irrigation district. It's a 
small district. At the present time it is owned by 
one man* 

Baum: The whole district? You mean all the land in the dis 

trict is in the hands of one man? 

Durbrow: Yes. One man. It went through various reorganiza 
tions. The Table Mountain Water Irrigation District 
went into default, I believe, on its bonds, and then 
it was purchased by one person who took it all over. 
I don't know his name. 

Beumt To get back, first of all the Oro Water, Light and 

Power Company was a fairly small operation with gold 



- ; . "- . -. 





Baumi dredging as one unit and then you were in charge 
especially of the water and power... 

Durbrowt Yes, water and power. 

Baumt And then they decided to expand into the power busi 
ness in Northern California* Was that their idea? 

Durbrow: Well, first they expanded in dredging to some extent. 
They bought other dredging properties, which was all 
right. And they made money. But then the president 
of the company thought he had enough money. He had an 
income of about half a million a year from the gold 
dredges. And he thought he would expand into the 
power business. And that* a where he had his Waterloo. 

Baums And that's when they moved you down to San Francisco, 
and tried to open up large offices, for promotion 

Durbrow: For promotion. They hired a man from Stone & Webster, 
a high-powered engineer, to be the general manager. 
I was supposed to be his assistant and I didn't like 
it at all. (laughter) 

Baum: Especially if you didn't like what he was doing. 

Durbrow! No, I didn't like what he was doing, although he and 
I were very cliae friends, a very fine man. As a 
matter of fact, when Mr. Goodwin, who was the presi 
dent of the company wanted me to move to San Francisco, 

I$TP ' L ^ : **' 



l* *< 





e'jtX i'.-^l 





Durbrow: I said, "Why move to San Francisco? This is where we 
have our business. This is the place where we are 
making our money.* 1 But he decided to move me to San 
Francisco. He was an attorney but he was more of a 

Baums Was he in any other business? 

Durbrow I J. W. Goodwin? No* The other interest in this prop 
erty was a man named Holton. And he was a heavy owner 
with Goodwin. And then the other heaviest owner was 
J. K, Moffitt. Jim Moffltt, whom I knew very well* 

Baumt He was in many other businesses I think* 

Durbrow: Yes, of course. Jim was a very wealthy man, a banker* 
He used to joke with me; he said, "You* re the only 
fellow who made any money on this thing," But mine 
was a very small Interest. And he sold enough of the 
stock to build his hone over in Piedmont. So he said* 
"I didn't do so well, yet not too badly." But the 
rest of his stocks that he held went down to nothing* 

Baumi The Oro Electric Company was taken over by P. 0* & E. 
eventually, is that right? Did Goodwin go into the 
P. G. & E. then? 

Durbrow: Oh no, he was out* 

Baum: What about the other men in the company? Were they 
out or... 

?? fw 


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Durbrow: Quite a few of the employees went into P. 0, 4 B. I 

could have gone into P. G. & E. I uaed to get letters 
from them asking me for their background, recommenda 
tions, one thing or another. Some of them went into 
P. G. & E, end others didn't. They scattered. 

Ranching in Glenn County 

Baumt Why didn't you go into the P. 0. & F.T 

Durbrov: Well, I was tired of thot kind of business. It dis 
gusted me completely. I decided that I wanted to go 
into farming. Wanted to be more independent. And 
my wife ha<3 inherited a piece of property up in Glenn 
county, part of it, and I bought the other half for 
her interests from her brother. So I decided that I 
wanted to go up there. I put money that I had made 
into livestock, and the operation of the ranch, and I 
sank it all in the ranch. 

Baum: How large a ranch was it? 

Durbrow: Well, 800 acres. I enlarged it later to 1500 acres. 

Baum: T hst was quite a lot of property. 

Curb row: Yea, it was very well known up there as % ranch but 

it was not successful because the agricultural depres 
sion started very shortly after we got there. 

Baum: Id like to know a little more about your ranch. 




. o ; 




DurbrowJ Well, it was a little over 800 acres of land and it 
vaa general farming land. Moat of it was very good 
land and a considerable part of it we put under irri 

We raised quite a large dairy herd, I think about 
a hundred head altogether. We raised hogs, we raised 
sheep, and we raised grain, and rice* We had some- 
wheres around a hundred acres of alfalfa* It was pro 
fitable for a while and, as my son often tells me, every 
department of that ranch made money; in other words we 
operated at a profit. But it wasn't enough of a pro 
fit to pay our overhead, which was the irrigation 
district taxes and the interest on our loan, so we had 
to borrow. Very shortly after we started, the depres 
sion came and we operated at a loss from that time on. 

Baum! You say you had a superintendent? 

Durbrowt Yes, I always had a superintendent on the ranch be 
cause we employed quite a few men. 

Baum: What kind of labor did you employ? 

Durbrowf White labor, all white labor. 

Baum: Were they transients or did they stay with the ranch 
all the time? 

Durbrow: Some were permanent and stayed with the ranch right 
along. They were more or less local people. We had 






..,,. .._ , 


Durbrow: men who stayed with us for 10 years or more. They 

were permanent employees who stayed with us through* 
out the year. But then of course during the rloe 
harvest we had to employ a great many more men, whleh 
were transients. 

Bid you have any problem* In getting this labor or 
keeping them happy? 

Durbrow: Oh yes, It was quite a problem in getting labor. I 
used to get most of It through employment offices In 
Sacramento, and sometimes they would send ue good men 
and sometimes they weren't so good. But they knew me 
pretty well and they did pretty well for us. One 
problem of labor was the cook... We always kept a 
cook and we had different ones come every year for 
some years; then they f d want to go somewhere else, to 
another job* In general we took care of them pretty 

A lot of the labor around there was Hindu or Oriental. 
Not with us. The Hindus did not act as laborers 
usually* They ran their own properties. They were 
rice growers and of course they hired their own men. 
But while I was there there was very little Hindu em 
ployment by white people. They leased land and ran it 


1C'* MT, 



Be urns 


Durbrow J 


How about Mexican labor? Was there much of that? 
There was practically none. 
In the whole area or on your own ranch? 
In the whole area* Oh, you'd get an occasional Mexi 
can or Filipino or some other nationality* 

When the children were growing up, we lived on 

the ranch* My oldest daughter, Terrill, end my 

youngest daughter, Cecile, were great horsewomen* They 

loved horses. And Cecile particularly owned several 

.-. - 

horses, kept them until we went to live in Grass Val 
ley* The rest had various occupations on the ranch* 
It's very easy to make life interesting on a ranch. 
I imagine they helped around the ranch too**. 
Oh yes, they did. Particularly my son Bob. Matter of 

fact, my son Bob during the last year we lived there 
was in charge of the ranch* When I moved to Grass 
Valley, he stayed with my wife on the ranch for one 
year* I used to go over weekends, and he ran the 


What was your religious preference? 
Well, we went to the Methodist Church in, Willows be 
cause our friends went there* My wife and I were 
both Presbyterians and we usually went to a Presbyter 

ian hurch if there was one. 

* *;* 

> : 





Baums Your family was Presbyterian too, weren't they? 

Durbrow: ^es, my family was Presbyterian. My mother and father* 
But Mrs. Durbrow and I later rather switched to the 
Episcopal Church when we went to Grass Valley. 

Food Administrator for 
Glenn CountyWorld War I 

Baums When did you start farming in Glenn County? 

Durbrow: I started to farm in Glenn County in 1915 and the 

war started in 1917. I was food administrator for the 
county at the time* They asked first one of the regents 
of the University to be food administrator and he was 
a great friend of mine. 

Baums Who was that? 

Durbrow: That was James Mills. And so he asked me to serve as 
food administrator and I agreed. 

Baums And whet were your duties as food administrator? 

Durbrow: Well, as food administrator I was supposed to keep 
down the use of sugar and flour particularly. Also 
foods were pretty much rationed, and it was my duty 
to see that the orders of the food administration were 
complied with. Herbert Hoover was the national heed 
of it, and Ralph Merritt, whom I knew very well, was 
head of it in California. Ralph was also in the rice 
business. He was at one time head of the Rice Associ- 

. I 





Purbrow: atlon. That came later, after he got through with the 
food administration. But food administration waa not 
a very difficult Job at that time, but It threw you 
In contact with a lot of very Interesting people* 

Baum: I'm always curious as to how this food administration 
worked. Did you have any power really, or was it 
mostly persuasion? 

Durbrowl Yes, we had real power if we wanted to use it. I 

never had to use it. But we had real power. One time 
I remember I had information that they were selling 
sugar, which was very scarce, at a town called Hamil 
ton. I went over there and found that they were per 
fectly willing to cooperate with us. I had no trouble, 
The stores cooperated very well. Those country people 
would cooperate much better than probably they would 
in a large city and during those war years and the 
years following there was very good cooperation. 


Getting Water from the Sacramento 
West Side Canal Company 

Baum: I think I read somewhere that you had to supervise the 
operations of the Sacramento West Side Canal Company. 

Durbrow: Before I went to the ranch, I was offered a very good 


price for the property, which probably I ought to have 

, ..-VJM-. in 




Durbrovt taken* Anyway, I didn't* I thought the property was 
worth more money. 

BaumJ Thla was when the Kuhns were building a big land de 

Durbrowt Yea, the Kuhns were acquiring a lot of property. Our 
ranch was a good piece of property and they wanted it. 
They offered me, as I remember, thirty thousand dol 
lars. I thought it wasn't enough so I didn't take it. 
Soon after I started living at the ranch, my previous 
experience in water was recognized. At that time the 
Sacramento Valley West Side Canal Company and the 
Superior California Land Company were in existence. It 
was therefore natural for me to take an interest in the 
development of the country in water matters. First I 
appeared a witness in a Railroad Commission hearing 
for establishing the requirement on the pert of the 
Sacramento Valley West Side Canal Company of serving 
all lands under its system with water. At that time 
the Byington suit had been tried but the decision 
hadn't been given, although at that time it had been 
held that it was a public utility. And we went before 
the Railroad Commission to force them to give us water 
at certain rates. 

Baumt YOU won that. 

; 1 . 




Durbrow: We won that case, yes. They gave ua a rate of $2*00 
an acre for water for general crops. 

Baumi Were you Involved in the Bylngton action? 

Durbrow: No, I waa not involved in the Bylngton action. That 
waa held down in Coluaa County and that waa before 
y real contact with the company. Then, when we got 
this rate, thinga went from bad to worse for the West 
Side Canal Company and the Superior California Farmland 
Company. They failed financially. 

Baum: Waa this because the rate waa too low for them to 

operate profitably? 

Durbrow: No, the people didn't take the water end the company 
didn't aell enough land. 

Baum! I know people didn't buy the land. But they weren't 

able to sell all their water? 

Durbrowi They weren't able to aell the water or the land either, 
so they failed. They were a Pittsburgh concern. And 
their name waa Kuhn Brothers. And they failed. Then 
the suggestion was made by several of us, a man named 
S, J. Hankins waa one of the prime movers, and a 
fellow named William D'Egilbert, and I were on an 
organizing committee to form an irrigation district 
and to take over the West Side Canal Company, that Is, 
to buy the canal property. And so I waa on that or- 




Durbrow: ganii'.ing committee and we were successful in organiz 
ing an irrigation district. 

w t 

Depression Years 1920* a 

Baura: After the depression set in for the farmers, Mere the 

farmers of your locality interested in any form of 
government aid.., any political movement for aid of any 

Durbrow: Not that I remember, no| I don't think so. Of course, 
government aid wasn't as prevalent then as later. 

Baum: No, it was a new idea... 

Durbrow: Rather a new idea, yes. And they had no social se 
curity and we had no old age pensions and things of 
that sort. If people got old and couldn f t support 
themselves, they went to the poor houses of which there 
was one in each county, usually known as the poor house 
or county hospital. The county hospital was a better 
name and became more prevalent when you had social 
security and old age pensions. But in my day they 
were known as the county poor houses. 

Baum: There was no aid for anything except... - 

Durbrow: No, the people went there to be taken care of. They 
gave them their lodging and something to eat. 

Baum: Wasn't there... I think in 192lj. around in the Mid-West 

a i i sf i a * fc-Ds 9*1 



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. . . ' 

f they were asking for the McKary-Haugen Bill, and that 
was for wheat and there was a certain preasure for 
government assistance of one kind or another. That 
may not hare applied to the rice districts, 

Durbrovt No, there was no help for rice at that time* In 

1919 I had a fairly good crop of rice and I sold It 
for seven cents a pound and the next year the 1920 
crop sold for fifty cents a hundred. It went from 
$700 a hundred to fifty cents a hundred, so It was 
quite a drop* And then also, we had a very poor year 
for harvest. In those days, harvesting had to be done 
under drier conditions. How they go in with new type 
machines and harvest nearly any time and then throw 
It into driers which have been constructed for that 
purpose, and they can get by* But we couldn't, so we 
had to sell rice at fifty cents a hundred that year 
and harvested very little at that. I mean a lot of it 
was spoiled In the fields and couldn't be harvested. 

Baumt c id the depression have any effect on the political 

opinions of the farmers In your locality? 

Durbrow: Oh, I can't say for that. I wasn't in politics and 
I don't remember how the people up at Willows voted. 
I think they were mostly Democratic. 

Baum: And what was your political preference? 

. "<'' 
*! ?> 






: :, :' 


I .'. 





Durbrow: Republican; my grandfather, my father and myself have 
all been conservatives and Republicans. I only had 
one little fling in politics. I ran for the Assembly 
one time after I retired, and I was very happy I 
wasn't elected* (laughter) 

Baumt This was in Grass Valley? 

Durbrow: '^hls was in Grass Valley. This man who beat me did a 
much better job than I could have done, 

Baumt Who did you support for President in 192k, when La- 
toilette was running and agricultural conditions were 

Durbrow: Of course I was definitely for Coolidge. 

Baum: You were a straight-line Republican... 

Durbrow: That's right. 

Baum: That true in 1928 for Hoover? 

Durbrow : Yes, oh, very definitely. 

Baumt Of course, he was a California man... 

DurbrowJ Y s, he was a California man. 

Baum: Did you know Hoover? 

Durbrow: I've met him since. I had a very interesting meeting 
with him since. Hoover came up to Grass- Valley, this 
wee after he retired as president, and was there as 
the speaker at one of our of July celebrations. 
I was asked to get some people together who had worked 

I *** *J*tg 



CO 91-1 >HO 




tl " 







*l&3 t ?0t[f:^ 

.-3 : . l .35- f <- 




J>urbrow: with Hoover when he was a student at Stanford, and 
when he came up to Nevada City to work in the mines 
up on Harmony Ridge, So I got quite a group of then 
and introduced them to him and he was very nappy to 
meet them. And one of them I remember particularly* 
He's a close friend of mine, Ed Qasssway, who was 
very picturesque character and was not afraid of any* 
body and so when I introduced him to Hoover he just 
slapped him on the back and said, "Hello, Herbie, how 
are you?" (laughter) And Hoover Just loved it. 
Oh, is that right* He always seemed such a dignified* 
Oh, I know, but he loved it up there* 

So they had quite a long chat together* He 
worked with Hoover in the mine and they sll had worked 
with Hoover up there* This man was older than Hoover 
wes. Later we all had lunch together down at the 
hotel in Grass Valley with Hoover and his wife. My 
wife had known his wife. They were both Kappas. She 
was a Kappa at Stanford and my wife was a Kappa at 
Berkeley. So they had met before, and we had a very 
pleasant luncheon with them. My sister, .Clara, and 
her husband, S. C. Buckbee, happened to be there at 
the time. It was quite an occasion. He made a very 
fine talk at the of July celebration. 

"v n 







? f- 

Baurat You like hint, I take it... 

Durbrow t Oh, very much. 

Baurat So you thought you voted correctly in 1928? 

Durbrow: Oh, I always knew I had voted correctly. We were 

very much for him at the tine he ran... Roosevelt ran 
against him in 1932. We went out in force down to 
Colfax to meet him when he came through on the train. 
He spoke to us from the train as he was going through 
to his home in Palo Alto* 

Baumt Did you continue Republican right through the depres 

Durbrow: Well, I have one confession to make* I voted for 
Kooaevelt once. That's on his second time he ran, 

Baumt That was against Landon, I think... 

Durbrow: I was not particularly impressed with Landon and 

figured Roosevelt had helped us out of the depression. 
Anyway, 1 voted for him once and I'm very much ashamed 
of it. I think he made the worst president we have 
had for some time. 

Baumt So that was your one fall from grace. 

Durbrow: One fall from grace, (laughter) 1 think in a way he's 
the worst president we've ever had and I think he's 
caused more economic trouble in the United States. 


,* f 

1. I fc%J-i 







' : '. * 


lv < rtl 


Durbrowi I think our troubles today all spring from the Roose- 

v> . . 
velt ideas of spending money and well, think I would 

; - ".'- 

describe his program as Socialistic. 

Baumi S you're opposed to him on his domestic policy* not 

..* - 

his foreign policy. 

Durbrowt ?es* I think he made* at certain times* a mess out of 
his foreign policy because he made secret agreements 
which he shouldn't have made and which Z don't believe 
were to the best interest of the * 3* I'm opposed to 
him on his domestic policy* I think he vss a very 
poor president and led us down a very wrong alley* 

Baumt Rather unusual you voted for him in 1936 then* because 

he was going down that alley at that time* wasn't he? 

Durbrow: Well* I know, but he seemed to be the man of the hour 
at that time and it looked as though it was a poor 
time to change presidents* 

Baumt Well, I think the rest of the country agreed with you 

at that time. 

Durbrowi I think so, and many of the people who voted for him 
think the same as I do* it was a mistake. 

Baumt At the time of this agricultural depression, let's say 

- ***' 
1926*27* when things were getting bad and many farmers 

were unable to meet their mortgages, what was the re 
action of the banks In the Glenn-Colusa area? 

> , 

I 4<rsUtt 1 t-JtXv-i }O venc<;. Y, c t : -.r 


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Durbrow: T he banks in the Glenn-Colusa area all failed* 

Bsum: They went broke ...did they foreclose first or... 

Durbrow ? No, my land wasn't foreclosed* I just turned it over 
to them. I made them a present of it* 

Baum: Would they have taken it if you hadn't turned it over? 

Durbrow: Oh, I don't know if they would have, but I couldn't 
pay my debts from the ranch earnings at that time so 
I simply gave them the deed to not only the ranch, but 
to the livestock and everything else, all the imple 
ments that went with the operation of the ranch, every 

Baum: This was common of other farmers too, I suppose? 

Durbrow: No, I had left Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District end 
had become the manager of Nevada. It was one year 
before my family moved over* It was during that tins 
that I turned the ranch over to the bank* I agreed to 
pay them toward the debt they claimed I still owed 
them, but I didn't owe them anything as a natter of 
fact. They claimed a deficiency, even though I turned 
everything over, but when the Superintendent of Banks 
took the bank over he asked me why the hell did I ever 
sign any deficiency to the bank because what I had 
told him he said was absolutely so. He had found out. 
But he said I ought not to have signed those notes. 



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Baums You agreed to pay them more later than all your prop 


Durbrow: And they aaid they would straighten it out later* I 
didn't know then how bad off the bank was end they 
were all friends of mine. I knew them from the 
president down... they were all good friends of mine* 
So I said I'll do anything they wanted, and so I 
gave them the notes which I shouldn't have done* So 
later the Superintendent of Banks just did not try to 
collect on them. 

Baum: Well, now I suppose you owed assessments to the dis 

trict at the same time too* 

Durbrow: Well, that all went in together, when the bank took 
over the ranch... 

Baum: When the bank took over, did they try to operate it, 

and pay the district? 

Durbrow: Oh, they tried but they made a mess of it* (laughter) 
They lost more money than I did. 

Baum: That was what was usually happening I suppose, that the 

farmers lost the land to the bank and the bank lost 
it... ifc 

Durbrow: Yes, the bank... of course that isn't the first time 
that the bank took over properties. When I first 
owned property up in Willows, (my wife's property bat 


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Durbrow: I looked after it), and I often went up there at 

that time, the banks owned a great deal of property 
all over the valley from the previous depression, I 
don't know whether the *70's or '80's or when it was* 
but anyway, it was some previous agricultural depres 
sion end they owned a good deal of the land in the 
counties of Glenn and Colusa. I lived to see all 
those lands purchased by private owners* This depres 
sion acted the same way. The banks had to take the 
lands and now they* re all back in private ownership. 

Baurct The same ownership? 

Durbrowi Oh, some in different ownership. If I had been a 

farmer, and not an engineer and a financial operator 
as I was, I would have probably stayed on the ranch 
and would have come out all right. 

Baums You'd have rented it... 

Durbrow: I'd have operated it. And probably would have made 
money a. all my friends have done. I go back there 
now and whet used to be my home in the Willows ranch 
is a beautiful place now. It's the same house but 
they've added to it. But fundamentally it was the 
same house. It was a one-story house and I made it 
into a two-story house* Itatch colonial style. And 
they have now added to it and made a beautiful place 

. :*jt:w* 

&c isd , . 



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rfOHSi -; 






Durbrow: out of it* All over the district I find beautiful 
homes that have been built since we left* 

Be urn: When a district goes into default it then becomes 

very difficult for the farmers to borrow personally 
from the bank because there's this fact that there are 
heavy assessments, liens on the lend, end so on. 

Durbrow: That doesn't always follow* You sea, some of the 

lands nay go in default but others nay be perfectly 
prosperous and paying their assessments and those 
people are perfectly able to borrow from the "banks. 
$o thot at least in the Glenn-Colusa area you didn't 
notice any relationship between the whole district 
and particular farmerst 

Durbrow: I left there Just before the main financial depression 
which was in '29, but up to '29, money was very plen 
tiful and we could borrow easily! in fact, they lent us 
too much money, that's one trouble. The bank would 
lend me whatever money I needed, I had a good in 
come besides, which all went into the bank. I was 
not only manager of the Olenn-Colusa Irrigation Dis 
trict but I was also the president of Reclamation 
District Number 20i;7. 

Oh, is that right? Well, es president of the reclama 
tion district, you didn't draw a salary, did you? 

Be urn: 

?v 4 iJmr 'iJ. 






- . 

-.'i^f-l -' : ' 

' vo 






- ' 

I>urbrow: Yes, t>15>0 per month wee allotted to each director, 
paid in warrants, which I turned over to the bank, 

I still remained a director of that district for 
a few years after I came over to the Nevada Irrigation 
District. I was still going to the meetings at Coluaa. 


A Director of the Rice Growers Association 

Baum: You mentioned that you were in the Rice Growers Asso 

Durbrow: Yes, I was a director of the Rice Growers Association. 
I was raising rice on my ranch and was on the board 
of directors of the Rice Growers Association. Ralph 
Merritt at one tine was the head of the Association. 
I knew Ralph Merritt in the Pood Administration and 
later in the Rice Association. I thought a great deal 
of him; he f s a fine chap. Ernest Adams then became 
president of the Rice Growers Association. 

Baum: Was the Rice Growers Association already formed when 
you became a director, or did you have to put it to 

Durbrowi No, it was already organized. I came in later. I 

represented a large number of rice growers because I 
was president of Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District and 
later its manager. 


*. c 

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Baura: Were the fanners eager to Join this association or 
did they look dubiously at it. 

Durbrowt No, I think they were quite willing to join the asso 
ciation. You see, in '20 and '21 we had a very dis- 

,-. 'i 
astrous year* The association helped pull the members 

out and get the best price for the rice that was 
possible under the conditions at that time. Of course, 
there were others than the association in the rice 


business who rather competed with the association in 
the buying of rice. 

Baum: Were there private millers who tried to buy directly 
from the farmers? 

DurbrowJ Yes, there were several private millers. They bought 
a great deal of the rice, but a good many of the 
growers sold through the association. 

Be tun: Was pert of your Job to persuade farmers to sell their 
rice through the association? 

Durbrowt No, I don't think that was part of the Job of being 
a director. *t was merely to keep the association 
running right and make it a prosperous organization, 
which we succeeded in doing. Ernest Adams was a very 
good president. He remained president for some time 
after I left the association. I left the association 
when I left the district. 

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Baums Than you were out of the riee business? 

Durbrow: Out of the rice business altogether, yes* 

Baum: What happened to this rice that the association hand 

Durbrow: It was sold on the markets. I think they helped de 
velop the brown rice business end were quite a factor 
in the rice business* They were not opposed altogether 
by the other purchasers of rice* Of course, there was 
competition in the buying of rice* The rice was mar 
keted, I think, very largely through private organi 

Baum: Are you speaking of other private organizations to 
market the rice to the millers or the millers them 
selves purchasing directly from the farmer. 

Durbrow * The millers themselves purchased directly from the 

Baum: Wasn't the ecsociation sot up to run an auction, to 
which they hoped the millers would come and purchase 
the rice. 

Durbrows I don*t retnember that. 

Baura: Did you have short grain rice? 

Durbrow: Most of the rice raised in California was short grain 
rice. We relsed some of the long grain rice, but it 
didn't produce as well* So we raised what was known 

trie? '.tc . cTjyc 







. . 




41 ' 






IHirbrow: as the Jap variety of rice, short grain rice. 
Baum: Which you sold to Japan? 

Durbrow: We sold to Japan largely. It was sold in this coun 
try too, but we overproduced fop this country* a need* 




Organize t lon1919 

Baum: 1 have a lot of questions on the Glenn -Colusa Irri 

gation District. What were the reasons that you and 
the other landowners around Willows decided to form 
a district in 1919? 

Durbrow: Well, one of the reasons was that the price of rice 
went up during World War I and it was found that we 
could grow rice. First, it was just experimental 
planting and later it was found quite profitable and 
we wanted to get water on the lands and the Sacra* 
mento West Side Canal Company had failed, and was not 
able or willing to enlarge the canal so as to carry 
the amount of water we wanted to divert from the river. 
So we decided the only thing to do was buy the system 
by forming an irrigation district* 

Baum: Who did the organizational work, getting out the peti 

tions and getting the landowners to agree to form a 
district? ^ 

Durbrow: Well, we had an organizing committee which consisted 
of S. J, Hankins, William DEgilbert, and myself. I 
was the chairman of the committee* Then we hired 







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Durbrow: man as e paid organizer named Lambert, Charles F* 

Lambert, a very well-known man who had Just come out 
of the orray. He was 9 local man at Willows* Ve were 
very successful in organising and as we wanted to 
build right away, as soon as we organized the district 
we started construction and got the money on warrants 
issued by the district, even before we got a bond 
issue out, 

Purchase arid Construction of Facilities 

Beum: &sd you made an agreement with the company to sell 
their works yetT 

Durbrow: Ve had already agreed on the details of purchase* 

Baumt Oh, you had already purchased,., 

Durbrow: No, for one year we rented the canal for 4>60,000, And 
then we kept on our negotiations for the final pur 
chase of it, 

Eaum: Who did the negotiating for the purchase? 

Durbrow: Hankins and myself were the principal two* 

Baum: And who were the people you negotiated with? 

Durbrow: A man named Myrl B, Moon who was the receiver for the 
West Side Canal Company and Superior California Farm 
Land Company, Those negotiations were conducted in 
San Francisco, We agreed finally to buy the canal for 

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Durbrow: a million dollars* In fact, they offered it to us 
for a million dollars but there were a good many 
details in the purchase of it* So we had to have a 
number of meetings to work out the details* 

Baums They were glad to get rid of the system, I imagine, 

Durbrow: Well, Moon was glad to be able to sell the irrigation 
system but he had all the other properties to sen. 
Superior California Farm Lands Company was organised 
to sell the lands and the West Side Canal Company was 
to either operate the canal or sell it. He sold it 
to us for a million dollars* Then we got out a bond 
issue for two million, rive -hundred -some -odd- thousand 
dollars* One million of this went for the purchase of 
the canal and one million end a half was intended for 
construction. We wanted the canal, which at that 
time only had a limited capacity, increased to a 
capacity of 1,700 second-feet of water* A 155 second* 
feet of that went to a smell district to the north of 
Glenn-Colusa, known as Jacinto Irrigation "District. 
And 1,550 second-feet came to Glenn-Colusa Irrigation 

Baurat foere you glad to let Jacinto buy this amount of water? 

Durbrow: That was a separate deal* They bought their interest.*, 
they bought a separate pumping plant and they had an 

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DurbrowJ interest In the upper end of the canal. That was on* 
of the details of the purchase. Then we started to 
build before we sold the bond isaue and the way we 
raised the money waa on wsrranta, and the warrants 
were purchased by our own landowners, who were proa* 
perous at the time*.* 

Baumt Prom the rice... 

Ihirbrowt Froa: rice. Quite wealthy. So they purchased these 
warrants of the district and we paid them off after 
ve sold the bond issue. The bond issue was passed 
almost unanimously by the people of the district* 

Bauic! Vac It easy for you to get the landowners to take 
these warrants? 

Durbrow: Oh, very easy for they were anxious to have the water* 
We were operating even before we finelly purchased 
the canal. 

When we organized the irrigation diatrict I was 
made president of the district end froia that time on 
WPS president during ell the negotiations. And the 
construction period. It was rather an engineering 
job and the man who was given the contract to design 
end Increase the capacity of the conel was an engineer 
who was ft close friend of mine, Fred H* Tlbbetts, 

Baumt Had he been a classuiate of your? 







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Durbrowt No, he was a younger men than I. I was never associ 
ated with him in business at all but for many years 
any big job that he had, I used to go out and see* So 
we became close friends* We built this canal and then 
Just at the time we got the canal built, ready to take 
the increased supply of water, it developed a very, 
very dry year* So dry that the whole northern part of 
the atcte was up in arras about our taking this water. 

v * '"*".. ? r .;.'"*. -' .:'.' $ < 

Ant loch Case 

Durbrow: The officials of the state, from the Governor down, 
were opposed to our taking this water which we had 
agreed with our landowners to take as we were entitled 
to it. We jjot the people to put up the money for or 
ganizing the district and voting the bonds on the 
agreement that we would get this enlarged capacity 
and ta2ce the water from the river which was half the 
water in the Sacramento River at low flow. We fought 
them ell and wouldn't enter into aay agreement with 
others* We took th vater and got by with it* 

Baum: Was this the Antioch case? 

Durbrowt The AntiDch csse, ye* 

Baums That wss decided against you, wasn't itT 

Durbrowt The Antioeh case was decided for us... 

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Beam: Let 1 8 see, that vent to the Supreme Court, I remember; 
I think it was decided against you, if I recall cor* 
rectly, but your need for water was over by the time 
they had gotten through all the appeals and so on* 

Durbrovi I don't think it wets*.. 

'' . ;-.:,. 

Baum: Perhaps I am mistaken* 

Durbrow: Anyway, we got the water* And we did it by being 

* >-,' MHh ; .$$' 

tough, and not agreeing to any compromise with other 
people who wanted us to take only a portion of the 

: .. " "/ * 

water we were entitled to. 

As a matter of fact, the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation 
District is probably the only district in the United 
States that has a Congressional grant to take water 
from a navigable stream* It may not be of any value, 
but it's en interesting thing. They were given the 
right by Congressional grant very early, long before 
the Irrigation district was formed. This was for 
taking of water from tho Saeramento River by the Cen 
tral Canal Company which was an earlier predecessor 

' ~ - 

of the 'jrlenn-Colaaa Bi strict as owner of the canal* 
It gave the right to take 900 second -feet out of the 
Sacramento River end that was done by Congressional 

>*!WT .' 






Sale of Bonds 

--'- ,.* * 

Ihirbrowt How* is there any other question you'd like to ask? 

"' * ' '* t 
Beum: Yes, I would like to aak you about the sale of your 

*' ;**!. ' 

bonds. How was that handled? 

Durbrow: Well, the bonds were sold to a bond syndicate, partly 
Eastern people and partly California people and they 

purchased $1,189*000 of this bond issue* The purchase 

...~.- . 
of the property from West Side Canal Company was hand 

led by direct transfer of bonds, Thats about all 
1 . 

there was to it. I don't remember just what the 

price was. 
Baum: I read in Frank Adam's history of irrigation districts, 

that you sold your bonds before they were certified* 
Durbrow: Yes, they were sold before they were certified, then 

they were certified afterwards* 

:f>- ; ! U"' -'l .;'; ,t 

BauraJ And that you only got 90 for then rather than par, 

Durbrow t I think that's correct. We got 90 for the bonds 

actually sold* 

Baum: Well, that's quite a loss, 

Durbrow! Yes, 

Baumt Ten points down, yes. I was wondering if you were 

forced to sell them so soon or If you could have held 

' ->' 
off a while and gotten par, 

Durbrow: No, I think not. As a matter of fact we sold them 


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Durbrow : just In time. The market broke right after that* I 
believe the bonds were sold in 1920. The district 
was organized In 1919 and the bonda were voted and 
aold in 1920. The construction work had been done or 
practically so. In fact, the contractors had moved 

Baumt Who were the contractorat 

Durbrow: I don't remember. 

Baum: Was it a good Job? 

Durbrow: Yes, a very good job. It was a drag line job... 

Officials and Employees of the District 

Baumt Did you do any of the supervising of the Job, of the 
cons true tionT 

Durbrow: No, although I waa an engineer, I waa the president of 
the district and of eourae there were a lot of detaila 
that had to be settled by the board of directors and 
it was left mostly to me to settle such details. 

Baumt Did all your work for the irrigation district leave 
you enough time to handle your ranch? 

Durbrow: Probably I neglected the ranch, but I had, a super 
intendent on the ranch, and I spent part of my time 
there, but I went into town every day. The ranch waa 
about eight miles from town and I'd go in practically 


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Durbrovt every day to the office* We purchased an office from 
the Superior California Farm Land Company. 

Baum: I was wondering how much work you had to do yourself 
and how much you could delegate to Mr* Lambert* 

Durbrowi Well, Lambert first was the organiser and then when we 
got to operating we made him secretary of the district 
and he was secretary for several years* 

Baumi Was that the same as manager or did you have another 

DurbrowJ No. we had a manager very shortly, an engineer-Manager, 
named Raymond Matthew. He's a very well-known engineer 
at the present time in Southern California* 
And he handled the engineering supervision? 
He was the manager of the district* He had worked 
with Tibbetts and was a very competent engineer* At 
present he is chief engineer of the Colorado River 
Board of California. When he left the district, I 
became manager. I had been president end had been 
elected twice. First in the organization and then for 
another four year term. Before ray second four years 
was up. I resigned and became manager of the district 
as I had been giving too much of my time and. of course. 
they couldn't pay me as president an amount to Justify 
my time. The board allowed me as a member to draw 


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81 ' 


Durbrow: what money I was legally allowed for every day of 
the month* I was allowed per diem for each dey of 
the month, but that was only 15 a day* Later I be 
came manager and remained manager until I went over 
to Nevada Irrigation District. 

Baums One question I wanted to ask is if there was any 

opposition to the formation of the district and to 
the enlargement of the canal. 

Durbrow: Very little* Of course ther were some people who 
wanted to stay out* which we allowed* 

Be urn: Oh, you let some of the people... 

;*i.>?v- ...." !.'* 

Durbrow: Well, it wasn't very much spotted but there was some 
areas of general crops that didn't want to come into 

the district* They were allowed to stay out. Since 


that time they asked to be and were brought in. 
Baum: I have the name of Gion Gibson as one of your opponents 

in the beginning* 
Durbrow: No, he waa in at the start but did not help in the 


Baums He later came into the district, didn't he? 

Durbrow: Yes, he was on the first board of directors and he 

remained a director until he died. Gion Gibson became 

a close friend of mine. 
Baum: I noticed in the Irrigation District Association 

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Baurat minutes, there's a delegate from Glenn-Coluss, Cali 

fornia Gibson, 

Durbrowi Yes, California Gibson was Glon Gibson's sister and 

she becpme a director of the district when Glon died* 
Later she became treasurer of Colusa County. 

Baum: Oh, Is that right She stood out In the minutes as 

one of the few women delegates* 

Durbrowi Yes, she was a very well-known person, California 

Refinancing the District 



Durbrow : 


Well, now, 1920 when the market broke on rice* what 
effect had this on the Irrigation district? 
The Irrigation district was put into a tail-spin, as 
it couldn't meet its bonded debt installments* When 
the Bond Certification Commission certified our bonds, 
they required us to pay off our debt in this way: 5>/ 
of the principal of the debt eaeh year for twenty 

; ; .' : . 

years* Now that meant that in the first years of our 

debt you had to pay the highest amount because the 

Interest was on top of the 5$ payment* 

So they weren't equal payments* 

No, the payments were 3$ of the principle plus interest* 

"->: VT:VS\* V 

So I refinanced the district at that time by getting 


the people who owned bonds to accept other dates of 


[U . 



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Durbrow! payment of principle to make equal payments every 
year. That was the first refinancing I did for an 
irrigation district* 

Baumi So that didn't change the principle or interest* 

Durbrow! It didn't change the principle or interest* 

Baum: But reallocated the payments* 

Durbrow! Reallocated the payments, yes* 

Baumt id the bondholders object to that, any of then? 

Durbrow! Oh, there were some objections, but I succeeded in 

the refinancing to such an extent that I became very 
well-known in the financial center in San Francisco 
and that's how I happened to go over to Nevada Irri 
gation District end refinance that district* 

Baumi How did you handle this refinancing, this first one? 
I -roan, what techniques did you use? Did you go to 
San Francisco and talk to bankers.., 

Durbrow: Yes, I went to San Francisco and talked to bankers* 
I remember one meeting in the Palace Hotel where I 
invited representatives from all the bond houses to 
come and I explained the whole situation to them, after 
luncheon* It waa successful and they all cooperated 
and it waa a lot of fun, 

Baural Were your district bonds down in value at that time? 

Durbrow! Yes, th district bonds were down. And I think one 

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Durbrow: of the reasons I wss able to put it over was thst 
they ell realized thst, if I made it easy on the 
district to pay the amount, the bonds would probably 
be better off market-wise. It would increase the 
price because the district would be less likely to 
default in its payments* 

Tolls and Aasessiaents 

Bourn: After the rice collapse were the landowners able to 

continue to meet their assessments? 
Durbrowt Well, to some extent* A lot of the poorer land did 

not meet their assessments and that's the reason it 

; - - . -' 

was so hsrd on the district* Their income was very 
much depleted* 

Baurc: Did these people who couldn't meet their assessments 

or those for whom it was very hard hold any resentment 
sgalnst the district or against you? 

Durbrowt Ho. The only trouble I had was with a mall group 

of landowners, mostly general crop landowners, a very 
small group. The trouble was that the people who 
owned most of the land didn't live on it and didn't 
have a vote, so later the control went into the hands 
of people who lived on the land, the small landowners, 
who were rather opposed to the rice growers. 

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aura: They would be opposed to all the costs they didn't 

need, I suppose. 

Durbrovt Well, of course, as a matter of fact, our Income wasn't 
a matter of assessments so much as it was a matter of 
selling water. 

Baumt Oh, tolls. 

Durbrow: Tolls, and we increased the tolls on rice and got by 
that way. 

Baum: Did you start out with water tolls from the very begin 

Durbrow: Yes, we started out from the very beginning. I for 
get what the tolls were* I remember that we made the 
tolls very low on general crops, one dollar per acre* 
That was done largely to help out the small farmer* 
Then the rice growers paid the heavy amount of the 
running costs of the district* X think it was ff> per 
acre, if I remember rightly. 

Baum: Could they pay that amount of money and still make 
profit on their cropsT 

Durbrow: Yea. The rice growers who continued to grow rice could 
pay as that amount wasn't a very large proportion of 
the costs of growing rice. After the collapse the 
amount of rice grown was, for a while, considerably 
leas. That, of course, caused a decrease in the dis 
trict's income. 


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Baura: What did they do with their land that they didn't 

grow rice on? 
Durbrow: Well, a lot of it became owned by the district. In 

other words the assessments were not paid and it 

went into district ownership. 
Baura: It wasn't very good land, was it? 

Durbrow: No, there was a lot of very poor land in Qlenn-Colusa, 

a lot of alkaline land. It was good for growing rice 

only. Not as good as the best land but it was used 

and it has become better since. 

Second Re financing 

Durbrow: I left the district before they had to again refi 
nance. My refinancing worked all right at long as I 
was there in the district. But later they got into 
difficulties, the price of rice still remained low, 
and I think they folded in their payments of bonds 
and they refinanced under the Reconstruction Finance 

Baura: So this would be under the Municipal Bankruptcy Act. 

Durbrow: Yes. At that time, and I was rather instrumental, 

along with others in the Irrigation Districts Associ 
ation, in forming that portion of the RFC which was 
known as the Drainage and Irrigation Seetion. And 

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Durbrow: under that section the RFC bought up the certain bond 
issues that had a depleted price. The bonds had all 
gone down in price. They bought them up and then re* 
financed the districts. 

Baums They bought the original bonds at low cost... Did 
the district then issue new bonds? 

Durbrow: Well, the RFC later sold such issues to a bond house 
for a lower than original price and they issued new 
bonds to the district. That was the way it was hand 
led by the RFC, and they made money in so doing* 

Baumt The RFC? 

Durbrow* The RFC made money. They bought the bonds at a de 
preciated price. Then, after the district got in 
better shape, they resold the issue to a bond house 
at a lower price than when originally issued and the 
district was able to meet the lowered cost* 

You're getting now beyond my time* This refin 
ancing was all done in Glenn-Colusa after I left. As 
a matter of fact, GUenn-Colasa, to my mind, could have 
paid out exactly on my refinancing. It had the earn 
ing power to pay out. 

Baums You think they had the ability all during the depres 
sion or would they have had to stop payment for a 
while and pick it up later? 

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DurbrowJ Well, if they had stopped payment they could have 
picked it up. Aa a matter of fact, I don't think 
they would ever have had to stop payment* It* a my 
belief that the Slenn-Colusa district could have 
paid out aa they were refinanced originally* That is, 
refinanced as it was, not reducing the principal at all, 
and the bonda would have all been paid out by 191^0. 
Well, they nay have had to go a little beyond that 
time, but I think they could have paid out and the 
bondholder received all hia money* 

Baurat -^id you oppose this refinancing of Glenn-Colusa later? 

Durbrowt No. I had nothing to do with it at all* Whan I left 
the district I was completely out of that* 

Baurat Bat I take it you fael that it wasn't quite a fair 

thing to do. 

Durbrow: It waa done by friends of mine and I wai much in sjra- 
pathy with them. Glenn-Colusa is in very good condi 
tion at the present time and always has been a good 
district. I mean it haa been in excellent shape ever 
since rice has come back. Even before then it waa in 
pretty good condition* 

Baums Well, I've heard the argument that in many eases tbt 

bonds were already out of the hands of the original 
purchasers and in the hands or people who had bought 

' . 



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Baum: them up at, sey, thirty cents on the dollar, so that 

the original purchaser had already lost hit original 



Durbrow: Chat's very often the case, 
Baum: And Just the speculator would have made the profit 


v. ti ar i -. ,v . 

Durbrow s Yes. 

Baum: So that's the argument I heard justifying this refi 

nancing. Would you agree with that? 

-., *?;.<* -* :'.-. 

Durbrow: Well, I would to some extent* Mow, as a matter of 

fact, in Nevada Irrigation District many of the bond* 
were always held by the original owners, although they 
were traded on the market and a lot of them were sold* 
I mean some of the very large holders held on to big 

',: ,:.': , 

blocks of bonds and as we refinanced it, they came out 
very, very well. They were very happy at the outcome* 

'* utt * 

Baum! I should think you'd feel s little differently about 

the original holders* 

Durbrowt Ho, you couldn't. You see the bonds are like cash... 
Baum: You have to treat them the same... 

Durbrows Well, you don't know who owns them, unless you get 

- : ' j t 

list. Of course I had a list up in Nevada, a list of 
who owned all the bonds. 



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Annexation of Williams Irrigation District 

Baum: I understand that the Williams District was annexed 
to Glenn -Coins a. 

Durbrovt Yes, that was during ray time, 

Baum: 192U, waan't it? 

DurbrowJ *es, we annexed the Williams Irrigation District and 
we also supplied part of the water to the Provident, 
and later, I think, supplied all the water to Provi 
dent, and we supplied all the water for the Maxwell 
Irrigation District. The Williams Irrigation District 
became part of the Glenn-Coluaa Irrigation District, 
but it had its own bond issue which was in very bad 

Baum: Did the Glenn -Colusa landholders object to the anncxa- 

tion of Williams? 
Durbrow: No. Ho objection. 

Baumt Because they had their own bond issue, I suppose* 
Durbrow: Yes* We required them to take cere of their own bond 

issue. Glenn-Colusa indebtedness was spread over it 

all and then under that were the Williams Irrigation 

District bonds. 

Baumt And I understand that Williams bonds defaulted in 192?, 

Was that any trouble to you? 



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Durbrow: No, no trouble to us. It meant new ownerships of 

land In the Williams Irrigation District because with 
the bonds going into default, the district became the 
owner of the land. 

Bauin! And what would you do with the land? 

Durbrow: We'd resell it, 

Baura: Resell it... You could resell it? 

Durbrow: Yes, we could sell it, but then there would still be 
the obligation against it of the bonds so it wasn't 
very salable* 

Baum: Did you try to rent or lease it? 

Durbrowt Williams Irrigation District lands? They were all 

leased. I don't remember the details of the Williams 
Irrigation District, how we handled the lands. I know 
that the lands had mostly gone into default and their 
bonds were in pretty bad shape at that time. We ex 
tended the canal down to connect with Williams irriga 
tion canals and it continued to be part of the Qlenn- 
Colusa... it still is, of course. 

Durbrow Leaves the District 


Baura! Why did you leave the Glenn-Colusa Diatrict then? 

Durbrow: Well, they had a recall election and they elected 

another board that waa not to my liking at all. I had 







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Durbrow: at that time many letters from larger landowners like 
James Mills, who had a large orchard in the district, 
and from many people in Sen Francisco, and others, who 
all wanted me to stay* But this group of small land 
owners who had come in had very different ideas as to 
the district, not my ideas at all, so I got out. 

Baums It was the small landowners who took over the director 

Durbrow: Yes. When they replaced me with another man I showed 
him around, gave him all the experience I could, but 
he only lasted about a year* 

Baums Was there any difference in the way they wanted the 
district operated from the way it had been? 

Durbrow! I don't know. I never have been able to figure out 
what they wanted. As a matter of fact, I guess I 
was kind of a czar. The board always knew exactly 
what I was doing* I told them exactly* At the same 
time, my way usually prevailed as they always approved. 
However, as one of the small landowners whom I knew 
quite well, said to me, "We want to run this district 
ourselves. n And they ran it not very well until they 
got experienced. 

Baura! Veil, was it Just that they wanted to run it or did 
they object to anything you were doing? 

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D urbrow: No, they didn't object to anything I was doing.,, 

Baura: Just objected to your doing it yourself, 

Durbrovi Just objected to my doing it myself* As I say, they 

wanted to run it themselves and I don*t know what they 
changed. I don't think they changed very much. As a 
matter of fact, most of our policies are still being 
used. Of course they all became very friendly with as 


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Baumi You ware also a director of Reclamation District 20lj.7. 

Durbrovl Yes, I was the president of that district Reclamation 
District 20l|-7, which covered GHenn-Colusa Irrigation 
District and other districts, as wall as other lands* 

Baura: That district was in trouble too, wasn't it? 

Durbrowt Well, it got in trouble later* It wasn't in trouble 
in my time* It got in trouble later and defaulted on 
its bonds in Glenn-Colusa and this nan, Lambert, was 
instrumental in having it dissolved* There* a no longer 
any Reclamation District 20l;7 

Baura: When were you president of the reclamation district? 

Durbrow: I became president about 1926. I wouldn't say exactly 
when. And I continued until about 1931. 

Baura: Those were hard years for the reclamation district, 

weren't they? 

Durbrow t Yea. We had to do some cleaning work on the ditches, 
but we didn't do very much work at that time on ac 
count of the expense. The reason I was elected on the 
board and then became president of the district, was 
that we objected rather to the way it was being opera 
ted and the expense of It. So we reduced the expense of 

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Durbrow: operating Reclamation District 201(7 One of the old 
members, a man by the name of J. C. Campbell, re 
mained on the board with me. Then, there waa another 
man, I* G, Zumwalt, and he plus Campbell end myself 
were the board during my time and I waa president* 
It was the largest reclamation district in Horthern 
California* It had in it about 250,000 acres* It vat 
conceived for the purpose of draining the irrigation 
districts run-off back into the Sacramento River down 
near Grimes where it had a removable dam, that could 
let the water out in summer and hold the river water 
back in winter, 

Baumt Was this because the down-river had complained about 

the Irrigation districts not returning as much irriga 
tion water as possible? 

Durbrow: No, there was no objection to that, but these dis 
tricts needed draining, although Glenn-Colusa looked 
after Its own drainage problems. But it drained all 
run-off down into the Colusa Basin, to which there 
was some objection. This reclamation district took 
the drainage water back into the Sacramento River. It 
wasn't a particularly necessary district and has now 
been abandoned. 

Baum: Why do you say it was a mistaktt 

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It was too costly, for one thing* It added a debt 

upon all the districts in addition to their irrigation 

district debts, which was beyond their ability to pay 

at that time. 

But wasn't the drainage absolutely necessary? 

It was absolutely necessary, but it could be done by 

the districts themselves and was largely done by the 

districts themselves. I think certain work done by 

20l|7 was a very necessary drainage matter, but it 

could have been worked out by an association of the 


You think it would have been more economical to handle 

the problem another way* 

Very much more economical by an association of the 

districts* Thia district contracted a rather large 

bond issue which had to be paid off by the land in 

the district. 

I heard mentioned the name of Mr* Zurawalt,.* 

He was on the board with me. 

He was a heavy landholder*, 

Yes, a heavy landowner and a rich man. He was rather 

a difficult man, in some ways, to do business with. 

but he was a very wealthy man, and I got along with 

him fine. We were very good friends. 


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I heard that Mr. Zurawalt was quite unpopular and I 

wondered how he got himself elected* 
Durbrow: He was unpopular because* as a merchant, if a farmer 

had bought some implements from him (he was a big in* 

plement dealer) and didn't pay him, he'd just go out 

and take the implements away* 
Baum: He foreclosed right away. 


Durbrow: He was a hard man to deal with. He was rather un 
popular in that way. 

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Organization - 1921 


Baum: I have aorae questions on the Nevada District* 

Durbrow: I hare a few notes here. 

Baum: I understand you hare been checking up on your old 
papers and so on* 

Durbrowt Yea, I cheeked on some of my old papers. Alto. I 

vent down to the Nevada Irrigation District* A man 
named Doyle Thomas, employed there, has made up 
quite a history of the Nevada Irrigation District* 
It isn't approved altogether by the present board of 
directors, but they let me interview him and I got some 
facts I wanted from him* 

Baum: Who is he? 

Durbrow: He was originally employed by the district as a pub* 
licity man, but he tells me he is not in very good 
favor with the board of directors at the present time* 

Baum: Did they employ him to write up a hiatory? 

Durbrow: *ea, he was employed by a former board of" directors 
to write up titie history. I think, as you know, the 
Nevada Irrigation District has been in continual fer 
ment ever since I left. A somewhat radical group have 
been in control. 

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Baumi Radical In what way? 

Durbrow: I don't know how to express it. They are dominated 
by men who have radical political notions. I think 
also they have what is called the Nevada Irrigation 
District Water Users Association, which was somewhat 
radical in some of Its views* I couldn't say just 
exactly how. 

Baum: Oh, I can see how their politics might be radical* 

but I was wondering how that effected the operation 
of the district? 

Durbrows Well, whenever they had a real conservative manager 
who seemed to be running things right, they made s 
lot of trouble for him and he got out. So every 
manager quit. They now have a new manager end X 
don't know how long he's going to stay, but he seems 
to be a good man. 

Baurc: Who are these people? Are they landowners? 

Durbrow: Yes, they're landowners. It's mostly the small land 
owners, not the large landowners. I had that trouble 
in Glenn-Colusa. Here I haven't any trouble because 
I'm not in it. In fact, I got out of the Nevada Irrl 
gation District when they elected a new group of di 
rectors that I thought wouldn't operate things in the 
way thst I wanted It operated. 

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Bauraf Out of Hevada? 

Durbrow: Tea, I was seventy years old at the time and I was 

glad to retire anyway. 

Baum: Does this conflict arise on the matter of assessments? 
Ourbrow: I can't say just what it is. I think It's largely 

a matter of wanting to run things rather than leaving 

it to the engineer and manager. 

Baum: It* a just a personality clash, Mho runs the show? 
Durbrow: I think so. I think the small landowners, as in 

Glenn -Colusa, wanted to run things. They got control 

and began to run things, some times not to the best 

Baum! Getting back to the beginnings of the Nevada irrlgs- 

tion District, I was wondering why it was formed* 
I>urbrowt Well, it goes way back before the formation of the 

district to about Hay 1916. A committee of fifty 

prominent businessmen, ranchers, requested the P. G. 

It E. to enlarge their facilities* A petition probably. 

The F. 3. & . at that time refused, intimating they 

were not aa much interested in irrigation as in power, 

and therefore they refused to expand their irrigation 

in te rests. 
BauraJ Waan f t the P. G. & B. at that tin* selling water for 



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DurbrowJ Yes, the P. G. & E. old water that came through the 
South Tuba Canal to a power house after which it went 
into the Cascade Ditch, Snow Mountain Bitch, and sev 
eral other smaller canals. The amount was limited, 
They sold water to Nevada City and the mines and to 
Grass Valley also* T hy alo told water to a limited 
extent for irrigation. It was entirely inadequate 
and they were net inclined to increase the amount or 
enlarge the distribution canals* 

Baumt Was there any increase in agriculture in the area 
about that time? That was about the time of World 
War I. 

Durbrow: i.o. The increase in agriculture in Nevada County came 
after the shut-down of the hydraulic mines, in the 
lete >80's end early '90's. Then, down in the Chicago 
Park area, which is in the northeastern part of the 
district, along the Bear River, the people moved in 
fron Chicago* They were German people and they formed 
a colony called the Chicago Park Colony. They raised 
pears mostly. They raised them without Irrigation. 
They weren't doing too well and wanted water* 

In 1915 a man named A. L. Wisker, who became very 
prominent later in the diatrict and was a pear grower. 
organized a club with a membership of sixty-eight for 


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Durbrow: irrigation purposes. T hen Kate Church, who also 

became a very early member of the irrigation district, 
talked with Wisker. As a result, they changed it 
into what they called a Tana club and shortly there 
after a man named Grasser was engaged for the Para 
Bureau and the farm elub was turned into a unit of 
the *'arm Bureau. In 1917 they formed this Farm Bureau 

Also in 191? several prominent men, Earl Taylor, 
Joe C. 0' Conner, A* L, Kosher, J. C. Tyrell, got in 
touch with Crasser in regard to irrigation matters 
and in 1918 Joe 0*Conner made filings on water for 
the benefit of the area* 

Baumt Hadn't the P. 0. & E* filings on the water? 

Durbrow: No, the P. G. & E. just had their filings for water 
and power from the Yuba and alao they had a power 
plant on the Bear. The water really came from the 
Yuba through another power plant and dropped the water 
into the Bear. 

Then in 1920 they formed what was known as the 
Yuba-tfevada-Sutter Water and Power Association. Taylor 
was president and Wisker was secretary* 

Baum: This was Just a private group 'of citizens trying to 
get water. 


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Durbrow: Yes. The three counties, Tuba, Nevada, and Sutter, 
pledged money for making surreys and filings and one 
thing and another. They applied to the Reclamation 
Service for help and were turned down. Then the 
organization rather lapsed, as it was poorly attended 
Finally they gave up. 

Baum: And all this time the P. 0. & E. was resisting their 

Durbrowt Yes, the P. 0. & B, were rather uncooperative. They 
were against any increase of irrigation from their 
own sources and also of course they were against any 
filings that might produce power. 

Then, also in 1920, Wisker suggested that Nevada 
County form its own district, because of the failure 
of the Yuba -Nevada -Sutter group, under state laws* 
The Perm Bureau took over the organization and Orasser, 
the farm advisor, was the leader. The Perm Bureau and 
the farm advisor at that time were very close together, 
much closer than they are now. On August 15, 1921 


the district was organized. 

^here was considerable opposition. There were 
two petitions, one of 319 names and another of 797 
names to form the district. Then in 192ij., May 7, 1921)., 
bonds were voted. 


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Baurat What was the opposition to the district? 

Durbrow: A lot of the land was grazing land and people didn't 
want to have Increased taxes* As a natter of fact, 
the opposition to the formation of an Irrigation dis 
trict Is usually a matter of resistance to Increased 
taxes bj lends not greatly benefited. Of course, the 
organization of an irrigation district means that you 
must hare taxes to support it. 

Baura: Was this before the district had thought of the idea 

of selling water to the P. G, & E.T 

Durbrowi Yes, they weren't working with the P, 0. & E. at all 
at that time. They formed this district and then got 
Fred Tibbetts to make plans for irrigation works. At 
that time they began negotiation with the P. J. & B. 
so that the water that was being impounded by the 
district could be brought down through canals and de 
livered to the P. (*. & E. through a power plant and 
then was used through their other power plants. 

Baumt Was this Tibbetts' idea, the sale of falling water? 

Durbrow: Well, it was Tibbetts 1 plans. Wisker at that time 
was the secretary of the district and he- became, 
without compensation, for a time the manager, during 
the time before they sold the bonds. 

Then, Key 7 192l|, they voted bonds of 16,063,000 
and that was later increased to $7,250,000. 

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Durbrow: T he Farm Bureau assessed Its members ten cents 

per acre to get Tibbetts 1 report. That 1 * how Tibbetts 1 

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report was financed. 

Baum: By a voluntary contribution. 

Durbrow: *es, the preliminary report. That wasn't his final 
report or plans; they were more costly than that. 
The ten cents per acre was paid back when the dis 
trict bonded itself, paid back to the people who 
assessed themselves ten cents per acre. 

Baum: Isn't it harder to vote bonds than to incorporate as 

a district? 

Durbrowt Well, they apparently didn't have any particular 

trouble in voting the bonds. The bonds went over with 
a pretty good majority. 

Baum: Did you have anything to do with the district at that 

Durbrow: No, I didn't. 

Baum: You weren't In touch with them? 

Durbrowt Yes, I was in touch with then. Fred Tibbetts and I 

were very close friends. So even before the district 
had plans for building, I went up there with Tibbetta 
to look over the area and met the board of directors. 
They were already organized and had their first 
board of directors. I went over it with them, Just 
as a friend of Tibbetts. I was at that time president 

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Durbrow: of the Irrigation Districts Association and interacted 
in getting new districts formed. 

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Durbrow J 

Purchases and Construction 
of District Facilities 

Then began the negotiations. Wlsker was an ex 
cellent negotiator* He negotiated the purchase from 
the Excelsior Water and Power Company of their ditch 
out of the South Yuba River for t30.000* Then on 
November f>, 1925 they purchased Bowman Lake from 
William B. Bourn, who owned Bowman Lake* They were 
properties originally built for hydraulic mining* 
So they bought the Bowman properties, which 
included Bowman Lake, formed by two dams, which 
were torn down and rebuilt later by the district. 
Along with that went a dam by the name of Foucherie, 
a small dam, and Saw Mill and French Lake, as well as 
other properties which had all been acquired by Bourn* 

Baums What did B O urn do with these lakes and dams? 

Durbrowi Well, he waa practically the aole owner of the Empire 
Mine in Grase Valley, a very wealthy man. At one 
time he became a very large stockholder of the Spring 
Valley VJater Company in San Francisco* In fact, he 
sold that business to San Francisco. He bought theae 

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Durbrow: properties and I don't know whether at the time he 
bought them he had this idea, but later he had the 
idea that he might divert that water into San Fran 
cisco from the South Tuba. Later San Francisco 
brought water from Hetch Hetchy, but Bourn had this 
idea before he sold to San Francisco. It never be 
came really a good project because I don't think 
there waa enough water* 

Later he sold the Spring Valley Water Company. 
When he died he waa worth about thirty million dol 
lars. In fact, I went up to Grass Valley originally, 
when I waa a college student, with a letter from 
Bourn to his superintendent. Be waa a friend of my 
father* a. 

Viaker also negotiated the purchase of Tarr 
Ditch for 1100,000, out of Wolf Creek* Than the 
Deer Creek system was bought from the P. 3. & E. 
That took the P. G. & E. out of irrigation in Hevada 

Baura* At that time I imagine they realized the irrigation 

dlatrict waa going and they might as well cooperate* 

Durbrow: Yea. Well, the negotiation went further than the 

purchase of the Deer Creek system. At that time he 
negotiated the contract with the P. 0. 3e E. for the 


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Durbrow: sale of water for power to them for the water from 
Bowman and these other lakes which all came Into 
Bowman and was routed from there through the Mountain 
Division Ditch of the district. This ditch took the 
water from Bowman Lake for eleven miles to a power 
plant, the Rim Power Plant, of the P. 3. & B, Company. 
This plant delivered water into Lake Spaulding. From 
Lake Spa aiding it went down through the various power 
plants of the P. 3. & E, and the district recovered a 
good deal of the water. Not all of the water, because 
some of the water went through in the wintertime* 

With the bonds voted, they proceeded to build the 
works of the district. The principal reservoir. was 
Bowman Lake, which was formed by tearing down and re 
building two higher dams where the old Bowman Bans 
were, and doing other work, principally, building the 
distribution canals* 

M. M. 0*Shaughnessy was employed by Fred Tibbetts, 
who was our engineer, as a consultant, particularly on 
the building of Bowman Cam, which was quite an exten 
sive affair, a rock-filled dam with a concrete face. 
I went up to Bowman with Fred Tibbetts and O'Shaugnnessy 
some years after the dan was built end he was very well 
pleased with it. We stayed there overnight and had a 


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Durbrowi very interesting trip with O'Sheugnnessy. 

Baum: Fred Tibbetts was the engineer for the district for 

long time? 
Durbrow: Oh, he was the engineer for the district originally 

and for as long as he lived. 
Baum: Did he live up around there? 
Durbrow: No, he lived in Berkeley. 

Baum: I notice he has been in on a lot of irrigation dls- 
:^Mm> triot planning. 

Durbrow: Tea, he has. His firm was quite the first firm in 

the planning of irrigation district works in Northern 

'\' ' ' * 

Baum: I also noticed that Tibbetta represented Nevada Dls- 

trict at the Irrigation Districts Association sometimes, 

Durbrow: Yes, I used to invite him always to go* Sometimes 

he went. He also, you know was the engineer for the 
Santa Clare Conservation District, building those 
works down there. I used to go to the various jobs 
he was on to look them over with him. Not that I had 
any special ability. We were close friends and I was 
an engineer and I was Interested. That's how Z hap 
pened to go up first to see the Nevada Irrigation 
D lstrlct proposed works* 

Baum! I reed the prospectus for that first issue of bonds 


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Baton: and I noticed that it mentioned that most of the dis 
trict would be paid for by the sale of falling water 
to the P. 0. * E, 

Durbrowt Visker also negotiated with the bond people before 
these bonds were sold, using the contract with the 
P. G, 8s B, the income from which was entirely devoted 
to the repayment of these bonds. That has always been 
so and still is. 

Beumt I was wondering if the landholders thought they would 
have to pay any assessments at all? 

Durbrowt Well, that's where Visker fell down. He rather in* 
tins ted that the thing would be so wonderfully self* 
liquidating that there would be no assessments. Be 

went so far as to have then think that in time they 
wouldn't even have any water tolls. In other words* 
he was overly optimistic. I always figured that 
Visker, whom I knew very well, was something of 
dreamer, although he was a very good negotiator. He 
went back to Washington and negotiated with the Fed 
eral Power Commission and got them to give the dis 
trict a power permit to sell water and power to the 
P. 0. & E. He did a wonderful lot of very competent 
work, negotiating these contracts. 
Baumt What was Mr. Wisker's occupation? You say he was not 

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Baum: compensated for his work with the district. 

Durbrow: Mr. Visker came to Nevada Count 7 to operate a farm 
for a man named Whitney, up on Loma Rica* He was 
operating that farm and was quite a factor in i* 
proving the affairs of the community and making better 
the agricultural situation all through Nevada County* 

Baurat Was he trained in agriculture? 

Durbrow: I don't know whether he waa or not. 

Baum: He was a ranch manager* 

Durbrowt He was a ranch manager and operated this Loma Rica 

Ranch and lived at Loma Rica I the property later be 
came the property of the principal owner of the Idaho- 
Maryland Mine who lived there until his death, 

Baum: This was a large ranch, I presume* 

Durbrow: A good-sized ranch, yea. 

Then, December 10, 1926, it looked a a though the 
district was going to be operated all right and water 
waa going to be available, so some of the acreage in 
Placer County wanted to Join the district. On that 
date 66, $00 acres in Placer County were annexed to the 
district, making 2,268,500 acres in the district. That 
was the district as I knew it. 

The first water was delivered July 1, 1927. 

Baum: When did you come to the district? 

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Ihirbrowl I came in July 1929* 

1*11 go a little further* On May 8, 1928 the 
second bond issue was voted. It was intended to cover 
reservoirs at Scotta Flat, Combie Dem, and the pur* 
chase from P. G.&E. of Gold Hill and Ophir. It never 
did all those different things* but it helped complete 
the works of the district* 

Wisker* Power Development Flans Pail 

' ': A 

Dux-brow: Then, the district needed more revenue. It was get 
ting to be in rather bad shape. It could be seen that 
the revenue was not sufficient to service the bonds* 

Baum: The P. G. & E. was adhering to their contract? 

Burbrowt Yes. 

Baum: And you had water to sell them? 

Durbrow* Yes. But the district didn f t have enough income to 
even service the bonds. 

Bauras Were people buying the water at the rate that Wisker 

had expected? 

Durbrow: That carae a little later. Wisker left just about the 
time they delivered the first water to the district. 
In 192? he got into trouble. One thing, Wisker saw 
that things were not going to work out so he organized 
what was known as the Pacific Electric and Development 

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Durbrow: Company with which he intended to take over the work* 
of the district and have the diatrict turn the whole 

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thing over to him* He had organized this company and 
they proposed to go ahead and produce more power by 
voiding the contracts with P. G. it , and by other 
means using the water to make more power* 

Baurat In other words* this company, which was Mr. Uisker, 

was going to produce the power rather than have the 
P. G. & E, do It. 

. >!-" 

Durbrow: And also was going to return the water to the land 
owners, get more weter, much cheaper. They weren't 
going to have any assessments at all* 

Faun: Was the idea that they would make so much money off 

the scle of the power that they could do this? 

Durbrow i Tha^s ri^ht, that they would make money off the sale 
of the power and th*t would lessen the cost to the 
farmers of the district. 

Now, that didn't work out. I have understood 
thet he had commit teen ts of some fourteen million 
dollsrs from some Eastern sources to go ahead with 
this work. At the same time, the board didn't approve 
and they had disagreements and he quit the district in 

Bauras At the time Mr. Wisker was suggesting that you produce 

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Baum: your own power, did the district consider putting in 
their own power plant, or having this other company 
put in a power plant? 

Burbrowt That waa Wisker's scheme. Just what his plans were is 

* ._. 

heard to say. Also, one of the things that troubled 
me when I first took over the district was a great 
antagonism to the district by the P. 0. it E. and one 
of the reasons was that Visker had filed on the waters 
of Bear River, which the P. 0. & E. had plans for using, 
He had filed on and intended to use, but he didn't 
have the money, 

Baums x hen Visker was contemplating that at some time the 
district would be in the power business? 

Durbrowi Not the district. The Pacific Development and Power 

Baums Would the area around there have been able to pur 
chase all of the power? Could this company have re 
tailed the power around there? 

Durbrow: No. Just as other districts did, they would have had 
to sell that to P. G, & E, 

BaumJ There was no thought of retsiling? 

Durbrow: No. There couldn't have been because there wasn't 

market. I was in the power business for several years 
and I realized that Viaker was dreaming. It couldn't 

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DurbrowJ be done. It failed in every ease where people had 
formed power companies, even with a better market 
than he could have had. They either failed to make 
profit or found it more profitable to sell out to the 
P. d. & E, That was true of the Northern California. 
Power Company, the Stanislaus Power Company, the Oro 
Water, Light and Power Company with which I was con 
nected and others. 

Baum: You felt power production was too big an undertaking 
for a district. 

Durbrowt It was too big for a district this size. It didn't 
have the potential water power to make a big thing 

of it either. They are still attempting, under 

i. , 
recent management, to find means of financing new 

power developments but they intend to sell to P. Q. & 

Baum: *es, I noticed the district is thinking of doing their 

own power development. 
Durbrow: I don't know the details of that, but I know that they 

have had engineers working on the problem. Also the 

P. G. & E. has worked on the problem but "have not yet 

come up with the final solution. 
Baum! Would the P. G. & E like to have the district produce 

the power and then sell it to the P. 0. & E.T 

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Durbrow: Well, the P. 0. & E. have changed their attitude 

since I first started in. They are now friendly to 
irrigation districts, very friendly. For instance, 
very recently they have built a series of power 
plants known as the Tri-Para project. They build the 
power plants and give the water back to the district, 
the sale of power paying the cost. So they're been 
very friendly and very cooperative. Ait at the time 
I went to Nevada District they were not friendly. As 
a matter of feet, Paul Downing was the general manager 
of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company at that time. 
I knew him personally very well. He didn't like 
Nevada Irrigation District. He told me so personally. 
But eventually we became very friendly and P. O & E. 
cooperated with the district in every way they could. 
But they insisted upon sticking to their contracts* 

Baum: Why do you think the P. a. & E. was so against the 
irrigation districts, especially since some like 
Nevada didn't seem to be a threat to them? 

Durbrowt The Pacific Gas and Electric Company figured that power 
was their particular province and it wasn't the pro 
vince of an irrigation district. Some districts had 
gone into the power district, which they didn't like. 
Like Turlock, Modesto, and Imperial. But they realized 

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Durbrow: they couldn't combat those things if the conditions 
were right for a district to go into the power busi 
ness. But in other cases, and most cases, the P. G. 
& E. has produced the power generated by the falling 
water from irrigation district works. They have been 
very friendly and cooperative in that way. 

I've gone into this because I went from the time 
they were uncooperative and antagonistic to irriga 
tion districts to the time that they were very friendly. 
Even after I quit Nevada Irrigation District the friend 
liness has continued. 

Baums I imagine that is because the P. 0. & E. doesn't 

think any districts are going to go into retailing 
power any more. 

Durbrow: I don't think they believe it will hurt them very badly. 
There have been a number of cases where districts or 
municipalities have gone into the power business, but 
the P. G. Sc E. still are the wholesale producers of 
electricity, like San Francisco* They produce a cer 
tain amount of their own power but they also buy from 
P. 0. & E. Or If there's a shut-down of 'their own pow 
er plants they have an arrangement by which they can 
get power from the P. G. & E. 

BaumJ Of course, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District 
has gone off of the P. G. & E.'s market. 

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Durbrow They still buy from P. 0. & B. but would like to 
buy from the Reclamation Bureau. That looks as 
though It might be rather an unfair situation to the 
private company, because Sacramento wants to buy 
from the Reclamation Service at a rate that is lower 
than the eost of production, all things considered* 

Baumt What do you think of the present plans of the Nevada 
District for making their own power? The Haypress 

Durbrowt If the Pacific Gas and Electric Company considers it 
a feasible project and they work it out together, I 
think It will be all right. There is water there and 
there's drop enough to make considerable power, but 
it would require cooperation of all parties to do it* 
P. G. & E, would buy that wholesale then? 
Oh yea. 

Durbrow : 
Durbrow i 

Then why shouldn't the P. 0* & B* build it? 

Well, the water rights belong to the district, so it's 

natural that it should be done by the district. 
Baum: So you think it's feasible if it works out with the 

P. 0. & E. satisfactorily* 
Durbrow: Tea, but it has to be not only feasible but economic 

for both parties. 


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Durbrow Becomes Manager - 192? 

* ,'i \ *t i ? 

Durbrowi After Wisker quit, the district than hired Fred Miller 
ai manager of the district for one year. During his 
administration they negotiated another contract with 
the P. 0. & E. and they got out another bond issue* 
This bond issue was for $2,592,000. Then the P. 0. 
& B. enlarged their canal out of the Bear River, from 
their Bear River Head Dam near Colfaz down a number 
of miles through a couple of power plants. They en- 

> > 

larged that canal to take the district water, but at 
district expense. The district would pay them back 
some $55,000 per year. That gave the district a 
larger income. 

At the end of the year there was a good deal of 
dissatisfaction, particularly from the bondholders 
standpoint. I was contacted, largely through the 
bondholders and their attorneys, Orrick, Palmer ft 
Dahlquist. They contacted me and I was asked to go 
up and take over the management of the district. 

Baumi At that time was there any default yet? 

Durbrowi Yes, there was default, but it wasn't a default as to 
the bondholders. It was a default in this wayt a cer 
tain combination of landholders and bondholders pur- 

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Durbrowt chased the coupons of the district as they became 

due, so that there was no actual default at the time 
I took over. For a year or two I had to continue 
this process of raising enough additional money to 
pay the interest through the sale of the coupons. The 
coupons were good of course. They would always be the 
first to be redeemed. 

I took over the district on the first of July, 

H 1< *9. HAti 

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Baumi Why did the bondholders contact you? 

Durbrowt I had had a good deal of background on the handling 

of district bonds. I was well known in the financial 
district of San Francisco and also by the attorney** 
As a matter of fact, I knew Orrlck very well* A 
college friend* I had a good reputation in San Fran 
cisco among the bondholders because I had refinanced 
the bonds of the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District and 
had contacted many bond houses as well as bondholder* 
down there* I was well known and they wanted me a* 
manager of the district* I had quit Glenn-Colusa. A* 
a matter of fact, I intended to go more deeply into 
farming, but I didn't. So I went over to Nevada Irri 
gation District. 

Baumt When you got to Nevada, were the landowners paying a 


BauraJ tax on their land? Or was all the money still coming 
from P. d & K. and the water tolls? 

Durbrow J No, the landowners were paying a very heavy tax* Inc 
order to try and get the revenue of the district up to 
a point where they eould meet their bond interest* the 
bondholders were trying to insist on an extremely 
heavy tax, which I considered too heavy a burden for 
the landowners. There was very little irrigation. 
It was mostly dry land and it was Just an additional 
cost to the farriers to pay this tax* 

Baum: This tax was falling on all of the lands, including 
a majority of them that weren't using any water. 

Durbrow: Yes. At that time I came to a little disagreement 
with the bondholders committee themselves* The head 
of the committee was L S. Keplinger. I had some 
disagreement with him because he was all for soaking 
the landholders. He represented the Eastern bond* 

Baum: Wasn't he with Dillon, Head & Co.? 

Durbrow: Yes, he waa. He was all for making the landowners 

pay through the nose so the bondholders vould get the 
full amount of interest. He tried to force a tax on 
as* We did, for a couple of years, in *29 and '30, 
put on a tax of $60,000, which I maintained was the 

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Durbrow: Unit that they could pay. Z said that limit could 
not be considered aa a permanent limit, but vaa Just 
in order to get by a certain period* 

Baura: Doesn't the law require the district to levy assess 

ments adequate to meet your obligations? 

Durbrow: Yea* It should, but you can't do the impossible. In 
other words, you can't levy what they can't pay* Even 
under the $60,000 whieh we levied, there were a let 

of delinquencies MM! a lot of land reverted to th* 


Pirat Refunding - 1931 

Durbrowt My first job was to refinance the district. I could 
see that the then Income of the district couldn't 
meet its interest and pay off its bonds. It had been 
reported by Tibbetts and later by the firm of Quinton, 
Code, Hill-Leeds & Barnard of Loa Angeles, under Sum 
mary of Power Revenue Reasonably Assured^ that there 
would be a full flow of water for the district every 
year so it would pwt the maximum revenue from the 
P. G. & B. This amount would have been $ij.37,800 to 
atart, and that would have been enough to pay the 
Interest and retire a substantial part of the bonda, 
if the interest rate of the bonds should be reduced to 


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The original bonded debt of the district was at 
5J# and ao I met with the attorneys and the bond* 
holders on this matter and finally got an agreement, 
which was rather a difficult thing to do too, to get 
them to reduce the interest from 5& to i$. This 
was known as Nevada Irrigation District Plan, dated 
Juno 1, 1931* and was finally proposed to the bond* 
holders by a ootnraittee representing the original bond- 
houses which put out the bonds. 

The plan tells the whole story. I had quite a 
job of getting the bondholders to agree to this plan. 

Baura: How dl<2 they get in touch with the bondholders? 

Weren't they pretty well sprinkled around? 


Durbrowj Yes, we could get them because we got in touch with 
the different people who had sold the bonds. There 
were both Eastern and Western bond houses that di* 
tributed the bonds. However, we were able to contact 
them. The only trouble was that at that time there 
was no provision for a refunding plan that forced the 
bondholders to do anything. So we had to^get the 
bondholders to agree voluntarily* and I want to tell 
you, it was a tough Job. 

Baumt It was just persuasion. 

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Durbrow: It was persuasion* But the principle of the persua 
sion was that this would make their bonds better* 
As a matter of fact, the bonds had gone down to twenty- 
four cents on the dollar* That was the lowest figure 
at which they sold* The plan, when accepted, did 
raise the bonds considerably over that figure. It 
made their bonds better, safer* 

Baum: So they were willing to take this lower interest for 
better bond* Were there any bondholders who re 
fused to put their bonds in? 

Durbrowi As I remember it, we got practically ell of then. 

There was one bunch of bonds, I think tlO.OOO, which 
on the last modification of the refunding plan hadn't 
come in. They belonged to a maiden lady down in San 
Marino. Finally, the attorney told me, "We have to 
have all those bonds in before we can put through 
this deal." So I had to go down end buy those bonds* 

Baum: At par? 

Durbrow: No, I made some kind of a deal* I forget whet the 

deal was now, but we got the bonds at a fairly decent 
price. But she did, perhaps, a little better than 
the others. 

Baum: Someone told me that Edward Treadwell did the same 
thing on the Nevada refinancing. 


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Durbrowt Well, that waa somewhat the same sort of deal* He vac 
a hold-out. I went in to see Ed Treadwell. We wanted 
to get his bonds* I don't remember lust what the 
deal waa but I had to agree to give him a little bit 
better deal than the others, which Z waa very unhappy 
to do. Nearly everybody had come through and he hadn't. 
He waa a little bit selfish on the proposition; he 
wanted to get a little more* 

This plan made quite a change in the refunding 
of irrigation bonds* The plan provided that if there 
were further modifications of the plan and if 7j# ef 
the outstanding bonds consented, all bonds would have 
to consent. 

This was part of the contract on the new bondsf 
Yes, the contract for the new bonds* We ran into a 
lot of opposition. J. R* Mason waa quite a well- 
known bond dealer end he brought suit and the suit 
was carried up through the courts and got practically 
to the Supreme Court. It got to the highest federal 
court outside of the Supreme Court, then they quit} 
so we won. 

I have a note that the California Legislature passed 
a law that such a provision waa legal* 

Durbrowl That waa after we got this through the courts. 




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Baum: Oh, so you were the ones they passed the lav for. 
Durbrow: No, they passed the law because we proved it could be 

done. We started things moving. And we won out in 

every court. We were then in a position for later 

Baum: A ease came up after the first modification, Mulcahy 

vs. Baldwin* 
Durbrow: That was our own case to test the legality* We had 

a number of problems coming up. One thing was to 

have a court ruling on the original plan. 
BauraJ There was some litigation by Placer County resident* 

against the district in about 1930. Bo you remember 

Durbrow t Yes, I do. As a matter of fact, we made very good 

friends of them afterwards. 


As I get the story, they were paying the P <J. & B. 

for water that the P. 0. 4 B. got from the district 
and they were paying a higher rate than the purchas 
ers from the district had to pay and they were angry 
about it. 

Durbrow* That's right. We finally consented to py the dif 

Baum: This was a loss to you, wasn't it? 

Durbrow: A loss to the district* 


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Beam: Because you sold the same water at a lower price to 

the P. 0. & E. ,**.*#** ^ ;$,. - 

Durbrowt No, it wasn't that. Some of the lands in the district 
were being served by P* 3. & E and they were being 
charged $lj.5> an acre* The district rate for orchard 
lands was $2lj. and for a time we paid the difference. 
We gave them a rebate on their water -bills* I don't 
remember that they won any suit; I don't think they 
did. I don't remember that it went to court* 

The only suit I remember, in the early days of 
my administration was a suit against the Pacific Gas 
and Electric Company. W had delivered, in 192?, water 
to the P. <J. !c B. and they had never paid us for it, 
They claimed the delivery in 192? was not in accord* 
ance with the contract, that it would be a violation 
of the contract for them to pay that* Ve had a suit 
over this 192? delivery, which we won* 

There was another suit against the district about 
that time. Certain landowners got water from Wolf 
Creek for their lands. It wasn't served by the dis 
trict, Just taken by those lands by their own ditches 


out of Wolf Cyeek. T hes people sued, claiming that 
they had always received this water, that it was 
natural water from Wolf Creek and that they were en- 

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Durbrow: titled to receive it as a water right and at no 

cost* We really didn't carry the suit beyond the 
Superior Court* We agreed to a modified adjudica 
tion of it under which we gave them a little less 
water than they claimed, but we agreed that they were 
entitled to this water* 

Baums So they didn't have to pay water toll* 

Durbrowt No, The crux of that whole suit was this. There 

was no water in Wolf Creek at times. We proved that. 
But there had been water in Wolf Creek ever since 
early times because the mines had pumped it into 
Wolf Creek. It wasn't natural i/ater. We proved It 

'.-:>..--. . " ' '~' V". ' 

wasn't natural water and all they were entitled to 
was the natural flovr. Now, the court held that the 
water the mines pumped out, not the water we might 
deliver into the mines but the water they pumped out, 
was in lieu of the natural flow that the mines had 
taken away, and they were entitled to such water* I 
think now the mines are shut down those people will 
eventually lose their rights to water because there is 
actually no water in Wolf Creek in the summertime, or 
just a trickle. 


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Second Modification * 1937 

. e .- o t ia 1 5 on with the H .FC . 

Durbrowi Then, later, * vt operated for several years under 
the plan with Interest reduced to li* we had several 
bed years.., 

Beuat Bed water years? 

Durbrowt Zee* At that time the Municipal Bankruptcy Aet had 

coma Into being and there wee a division formed, known 
as the Irrigation and Drainage Division of the Recon 
struction Finance Corporation, and we decided to try 
and work through it* Z figured that things weren't 
working out right et all, because while under the 
itf we had been able to pay our interest, we hadn't ra* 
duoed the bonded debt at all* So we decided the bond 
issue had to be age in re financed in some Banner. 

So I went back to Waahington in 1933 *nd again 
in 1936* The first time Z went with our attorney end 
we got nowhere et all* They turned us down cold. 

Bauns You wanted the R.P.C. to refinance the whole diatriet, 
buy in the bonda and iaaue new oneaT 

Durbrowt Tea* That ia what they were doing with other dis 
tricts. In some oaaea it worked out very well for 
the districts* 

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Durbrow: The second time I went back I get to know the 
people very well indeed* Ercil Schramm, who later 
became the head of the Hew York Stock Exchange, wet 
at that tine the head of the Irrigation and Drainage 
Division of the R.F.C. He was very friendly. He 
had been out here and I had net him and worked with 
him, so we knew each other rather well. He looked 
over our reports and had his engineers and his ac 
countants go over our bond plan* Finally he turned 
us down absolutely cold, said he couldn't do anything 
for us at all* 

Bauxn: On what basis? 

Durbrow: On the basis, mostly, that our bonds were supported 
by power income and not irrigation. Anyway, they 
turned ua down and finally he said, "Bill, I hate to 
do this but we cant do anything for you at all* But 
you can appeal our decision and I won't object if you 
want to go to the big board." The big board was head* 
ed by Jesse Jones of Texas. Of course, irrigation 
district affairs were too small, usually, to ever appear 
before them. But he said, "You can appear before them 
if you want to. 11 I said, "I'll appear before them.* 

So I got Senator Henderson of Nevada to make a 
date for me with the board. It was a very, very 

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Durbrowt Interesting netting I had with the Reconstruction 
Finance Corporation board. I went to the board 
meeting. Jesse Jones wasn't there, but the rest of 
the board was. They said I'd hare about fifteen 
minutes, but I ended up by having about an hour. 
When I got through they were all very good-natured 
about it. They said I had just sold then Nevada 
County. They all seemed to be very pleased with 
the exposition I had made of our situation and what 
we could do and how good our country was and what a 
good future the district had. 

The next day I went into Henderson's office to 
see what they had decided. The secretary asked me 
to take a seat and wait, that Senator Henderson was 
busy at the time. Just after I came in a tall man 
with white hair came in. I knew him right away from 
what I had heard of him. That was Jesse Jones. So 
he went in and had his talk with Henderson. He wasn't 
there more than about ten minutes. As he came out 
Henderson came with him and introduced him to me* 
When he was introduced, he slapped me on the back and 
said, "I know all about California. I've gone through 
there on a railroad train." We had a little converse- 
tlon and then he said, "I think we can fix you up all 

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Durbrow: right ." Then I went into Henderson's office and h* 
said, "That's all we needed. When Jesse says you 
are all right, you can do a thing, why it 9 a done, w 

Baum: So he vaa really a big man in that outfit? 

Durbrow: Oh, he was one of the big aan of the United States 
at the time. The R.F.C. handled all sorts of big 

So when Jesse Jones said it was all right, the 
others usually agreed* They had been sold by my talk 
as to Nevada Irrigation District. So several days 
later they gave their final consent, but it wasn't 
very satisfactory one to me. But I said, "I don't 
care what it is, I want a deal* You've gone over 
the district's reports and plans and I want you to 
give me a deal* I don't care how bad It is, what it 
is, I want it. I can use it." 

The deal was that they would pay us fifty cents 
on the dollar for our bonds and also that we were to 
issue some 1$ bonds in addition to this money for 
the bondholders, kind of s bonus* 

Baurat I didn't quite understand that. You were' going to get 

the bonds from the bondholders* 

Durbrows The R.P.C. would buy the bonds. 

Baum: The R.F.C, would buy the full issue, not a new issue, 

the same issue. 


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Durbrowt Yes, for fifty cents on the dollar. 

Baumt Were you supposed to pay off at par to the R.F.C.? 

Durbrowt No, they would sell them later. They would just 

charge us on the basis of fifty cents for th* bonds. 
Baumt So the bondholders would have taken just half . 
Durbrowt And the bonds were only selling for about thirty* 

four* As I say, we'd had very bad years and while 

we'd met the interest, we hadn't been able to pay 

any on the principal. 

A Private Peal 

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Durbrow: It was just what I wanted. I was perfectly satisfied, 
I came baek and then I got hold of the bankers end 
the bondholders, particularly the Bank of America, 
We had a meeting in the Bank of America building. 
Russell Kent of the Bank of America became the chair 
man of this first meeting, and we discussed th situa 
tion as to bonds. I told them what the deal was as 
offered by the R.F.O. and had the R.F.C. report show 
ing that the district was all right but that's all 

they would pay for the bonds. I said, *I think we 


can do better with a private deal** So finally we 

made a private deal. 

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Baumt Was this about 1937? 

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Durbrowt It was in 1936 that we were negotiating. The re 
funding plan is dated January 1, 1937* It was in the 
early part of 1936 I was back in Washington and got 
this report* Then, later on I began negotiating with 
this bondholders 1 committee. This committee repre 
sented people who owned large blocks of the bonds. 
Fred G.Stevenot was chairman and represented Bank of 
America* A. 0. Stewart was head of the Federal Re 
serve Bank in San Francisco, Robert M. Searls was 
very prominent attorney in San Francisco* end represent* 
ed his brother, Fred Searle, who was a large bond* 
holder. Kernan Hobson was a bondholder, and Earl V* 
Huntley was a stock and bond operator. 

Baura: So here on your bondholders advisory committee you 

had the major bondholders* 

Durbrowt ?es. As a matter of fact, on the committee we had 
i|X> of the outstanding bonds. We had several long 
meetings. Finally it was decided that the bonds 
would be reduced to 3#. Certain other changes were 
made. We would be allowed to buy the bonds up at 
any amount we could with the surplus money. 

Baum: *es, I noticed that you did that. 

Durbrow: Under the first plan we had agreed to a sinking fund 
of |200,000 to provide funds in case we fell down in 

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Durbrow: Interest or any disaster came to the Mountain Divi 
sion works of the district* Under certain conditions 
we could apply to the Bond Certification Commission 
for money out of this fund but had to refund it out 
of future revenues. 

One time, about 1935* after the original plan 
had gone into effect but before we had gone ahead with 
this modification of the plan, Fred Sesrls, who was 
a big minijig operator, and president since, of the 
Newmont Mining Company, which at that time controlled 
the Empire Mine and to whom we sold considerable 
water, came into my office. He was a hard man to 
talk to, as he decides for himself rather quickly and 
doesn't give you very much time to talk. Anyway, he 
said, "Mr. Durbrow, Ive got $10,000 of your bonds. 
We owe you money for water each month. Supposing I 
pay that water in bonds fit the depreciated value." 
It looked like a rrood deal to him. Of course, it 
was a good deal for the mine* However, it gave me a 
chance to show him how it wouldn't do, how it wouldn't 
work out for the district. Then I outlined to him 
my plans for refinancing the district. I explained 
to him how at a lower interest rate the bonds would 

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Durbrowj rise in value, they'd be good bonds, and I thought 
the district then could go ahead paying interest and 
reducing the principal. He listened, first time I 
ever knew him to really listen* He got the whole 
story, all about the irrigation district and my finan 
cial problems as to it* Finally he went out* 

In about a month or two he came back. He said. 
"Durbrow, I have $100,000 of your bonds now* I'm 
perfectly willing to help you in your refinancing." 
Well, it ended up by his buying over $2,000,000 of 
our bonds, or a quarter of the whole issue. He was 
a great help in putting through the modification of 
the refunding plan of January 1. 1937* 

One time, when I was in the middle of negotiating 
this modification I was walking down Montgomery Street 
with a man named V* D, Courtright, a rice -president 
of the Bank of America. As we were walking along the 
street, we met Fred Searls. Fred Searls never dressed 
up; he usually dressed very carelessly* He had on 
an old cap, his clrthes *ere mussed, his shirt was 
old end mussed. He stopped us, so I introduced Court 
right to him. Courtright didn't recognise the name. 
Fred said, "How are you coming along with your modi 
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Durbrov: well. We need about 1,000,000 more of the bonds to 
handle the deal." He said, "You get them end Ill 
buy them." Then we went on. Courtright looked at 
me and said, "How the heck is that man coming along 
here, an old slob like that, offering to buy a rail- 
lion dollars worth of bonds?* I said, "Be would, too, 
There's no question he has the money and he'd buy 

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them* That's Fred Seerls. He's one of the heeds of 
the Newmont Mining Company. He's helping us very 
much in this refinancing." 

Anyway, we got the necessary bonds, although not 
too easily. 

Baumt Searls bought a lot of those bonds himself and de 
posited them. 
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Burbrows Rather I would say he bought them for himself end his 

Baum! Did he sell bonds? 

DurbrowJ No, he was one of the heads of the Newmont Mining 

Company, one of the big mining companies of the world. 
He bought some of them for the Newraont, some for the 
then -pre si dent of the Newraont, some for Mrs. Thomp 
son, a large owner of Newmont and a very wealthy woman. 
Her husband, Thompson, formed the Newmont Mining Com 
pany. The name Nswmont is a contraction of the words 

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Durbrowi Hew York and Montana, and it became a very wealthy 

raining organization in Mew York, Hewmont controlled 
the Empire Mines of Grass Valley* They all made con 
siderable money out of Nevada Irrigation District 

Baumi That we a a good deal for him* 

Durbrowi An awfully good deal. 

Baura: Because he knew those bonds were going to go up. 

Durbrowt I had told him at our first meeting that I thought 
those bonds were going to go up, but I said, "The 
income isn't sufficient at present to properly ser 
vice them and that f s the reason we have to modify the 


present plan." He realized that if the modification 
went through it would increase the price of the bonds, 

We got the modification through. The result of 
that was these bonds which had gradually raised from 
twenty-four up to thirty, thirty-five, rose into the 
sixties, that's when he was buying them. Eventually 
they got up to over par. In fact, I sold some bonds 
I had for 103. 

Baum: This was after the modification had gone 'through* 
Durbrowt After the modification. That made the bonds good. 
Those people who had bought bonds at 5i$ interest 
gained money by their being reduced to 3# because 


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Durbrow: the bonds rose in value. 

Baum: Because you had thia R.F.C. deal, you were able to 
make a private deal. 

Durbrowi The R.P.C. deal had done thia for me, it had given 
me a report on the district. They had thoroughly 
gone into the detaila of the district, its contracts 
and everything else. That was the help it had given 
me. And it had given me a rotten deal so that I 
could turn to the bondholders and get a better deal* 

Baum: You could say, "Look what's going to happen. You're 

only going to get fifty cents on the dollar and you'd 
better do something about it." 

Durbrowi Yes, and Instead of that they got a hundred cents on 
the dollar. 

Baum: That was pretty clever financing, I think. The R.P.C. 
didn't know you were going to do that, did they? 

Durbrowl Well, I didn't tell them what I was going to do, I 
merely told them 1 didn't care how bad their deal 
was, I wanted a deal. Sehramm had refused to give me 
a deal. I respect him, he had a good reason for doing 
that. But knowing me so well, he did say,- "You can 
go before the big board," and that was the turning 
point. That gave me a chance. 

Baum: I noticed in one of the things you sent out, that in 

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BaumJ order to get bondholders to turn in their bonds they 
could go to a bond house. The bond house got a half 
of 1% of all the bonds they persuaded bondholders to 

Durbrow: There was a payment. 

Baum: I also noticed you didn't have to do that very long* 

Durbrowt No, not very long. 

Baum: Did you have a financial advisor or did the bond* 

holders committee suggest all these different tech 
niques of getting in the bonds* 

Durbrow: We had this advisory committee which was headed by 
Fred Stevenot. I had an offiee in San Francisco and 
a secretary there and we handled this transaction 
right in that office. The bonds were deposited with 
the Bank of America National Trust and Savings Asso 
ciation. There was a letter of consent and trans- 
mittal. That didn't provide for any payment. They 
could be deposited in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, 
or Chicago. Many of the bonds were held in the East. 

Baum: Were there any holdouts, then, in this 1937 modifica 

Durbrow: There couldn't be. 

Baum: After you got 15% you were in. 

Durbrow: Yes. 

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(Modification of Nevada Irrigation District Refunding Plan.) 

Dated 1937. 

485 California Street, 
San Francisco, California. 

Depositary under Modification dated as of January 1, 1937, of Nevada irrigation District . 
Refunding Plan dated June 1, 1931. 

In care of - Sub-Depositary 

(Here insert name of any sub-depositary mentioned on the reverse hereof if the Bonds are to be deposited in New York, Philadel 
phia, Boston or Chicago.) 

Dear Sirs : 

The undersigned is the owner and holder of bond(s) of the First Refunding Issue of Nevada Irrigation District dated Sep 
tember 15, 1931, listed below, viz: 

Numbers of Bonds: 

(Insert here the letters and numbers which appear at the top 
lefthand corner of each Bond.) 

Aggregate Principal Amount of Bonds: 

all standing in the name of, or now owned by the undersigned, and hereby deposits said bonds, accompanied by fixed and con 
tingent interest coupons due July 1, 1937, and all subsequently maturing fixed and contingent interest coupons (and also A July 
1, 1932 and B Julj 1, 1932 and all Deferred Interest Coupons due January 1, 1934 and subsequently), and hereby becomes a party 
to the Modification dated as of January 1, 1937 of Nevada Irrigation District Refunding Plan dated June 1, 1931, receipt of a 
copy of which Modification the undersigned hereby acknowledges. The undersigned, by the execution of this Letter of Consent and 
Transmittal in respect of the above-mentioned bonds, assents to and is fully bound by the provisions of the aforesaid Modification and 
has become a party thereto with the same force and effect as though he had signed the same. The undersigned does hereby 
further make, constitute and appoint Bank of America National Trust and Savings Association, or any agent, employee or 
nominee thereof, his true and lawful attorney, for him and on his behalf to do and perform all acts and sign all instruments 
necessary for the proper approval of said Modification ; hereby ratifying and confirming all that said attorneys and each of them or 
their substitutes shall do or cause to be done by virtue hereof ; and the undersigned does hereby irrevocably authorize said Bank of 
America National Trust and Savings Association to endorse on said bonds and coupons the endorsements respectively con 
tained in said Modification, pursuant to the terms thereof. This letter of Consent and Transmittal shall constitute an agency 
coupled with an interest and shall be irrevocable by the undersigned unless said Modification shall fail to become effective in 
the manner therein provided. In the event said Modification shall not become effective on or before January 1, 1938, the under 
signed hereby requests the Depositary to detach from said deposited bonds interest coupons due July 1, 1937 and all subse 
quently maturing coupons until said Modification shall become operative or shall terminate in accordance with its terms 
and to present the same to the Treasurer of Nevada Irrigation District for payment and upon such payment to remit the pro 
ceeds thereof to the undersigned by check of the Depositary. If such coupons shall not be paid upon presentation, the Deposi 
tary is hereby authorized and directed to cause the same to be registered in the name of the undersigned in the manner provided 
by law. The endorsement of any such checks by the undersigned shall be full release and acquittance to the Depositary for the 
amount of any sums collected by the Depositary and disbursed to the undersigned, which amounts shall be in lieu of the 
interest coupons hereinabove referred to and represented by the proceeds so collected. The agreements contained in this Letter 
of Consent and Transmittal shall be binding upon each successive transferee, owner or holder of said bonds and coupons. 
Please issue a receipt for the above-described bonds in the name of the undersigned owner thereof which receipt shall be negotiable 
in the manner provided in said Modification. All costs and expenses of this deposit are to be paid by said District. 

Name... . 

(Please PRINT in block, letters) 

In the Presence of: 

City and State 

Yours very truly, 


(Please sign your name here) 










Fill out and sign the form on the reverse side hereof and transmit it with your bonds to 

Bank of America National Trust and 
Savings Association 


If it is not convenient for you to deliver your bonds to the Depositary, 
it is suggested that you consult your local bank or investment firm, either of 
which will arrange the forwarding of your bonds to the Depositary. If you 
choose, you may send your bonds directly to the Depositary by insured regis 
tered mail. 

NOTE : Whenever it appears that this Letter of Consent and Transmittal 
has been executed by a trustee, attorney, executor, administrator or guardian, 
proper evidence of his authority so to act must be filed with the Depositary. 

Additional copies of this form may be obtained from Bank of America 
National Trust and Savings Association, or from the Nevada Irrigation District, 
or from the firm through which you purchased your bonds. 

The Bank of America National Trust and Savings Association, as Deposi 
tary, has approved the appointment of the sub-depositaries below named. Any 
bondholder may deposit his bonds with any of the sub-depositaries named below. 
Such sub-depositaries will act for and on behalf of Bank of America National 
Trust and Savings Association and as its agent with respect to such deposits. 

New York: 

Manufacturers Trust Company, 
55 Broad Street, 
New York City. 

Philadelphia : 

The Market Street National Bank of Philadelphia, 
Market and Juniper Street, 
Philadelphia, Pensylvania. 


Old Colony Trust Company, 
1 7 Court Street, 

Boston, Massachusetts. 

Chicago : 

City National Bank & Trust Company of Chicago, 
208 South La Salle Street, 
Chicago, Illinois. 



(Modification of Nevada Irrigation District Refunding Plan.) 


485 California Street, 
San Francisco, California. 

Depositary under Modification dated as of January 1, 1937, of Nevada Irrigation District 
Refunding Plan dated June 1, 1931. 


Dated , 1937. 

In care of _ _ _ Sub-Depositary 

(Here insert name of any sub-depositary mentioned on the reverse hereof if the Bonds are to be deposited in New York, Philadel 
phia, Boston or Chicago.) 

Dear Sirs : 

The undersigned is the owner and holder of bond(s) of the First Refunding Issue of Nevada Irrigation District dated Sep 
tember 15, 1931, listed below, viz: 

Numbers of Bonds: 
(Insert here the letters and numbers which appear at the top 
lefthand corner of each Bond.) 

Aggregate Principal Amount of Bonds: 

all standing in the name of, or now owned by the undersigned, and hereby deposits said bonds, accompanied by fixed and con 
tingent interest coupons due July 1, 1937, and all subsequently maturing fixed and contingent interest coupons (and also A July 
1, 1932 and B Julj 1, 1932 and all Deferred Interest Coupons due January 1, 1934 and subsequently), and hereby becomes a party 
to the Modification dated as of January 1, 1937 of Nevada Irrigation District Refunding Plan dated June 1, 1931, receipt of a 
copy of which Modification the undersigned hereby acknowledges. The undersigned, by the execution of this Letter of Consent and 
Transmittal in respect of the above-mentioned bonds, assents to and is fully bound by the provisions of the aforesaid Modification and 
has become a party thereto with the same force and effect as though he had signed the same. The undersigned does hereby 
further make, constitute and appoint Bank of America National Trust and Savings Association, or any agent, employee or 
nominee thereof, his true and lawful attorney, for him and on his behalf to do and perform all acts and sign all instruments 
necessary for the proper approval of said Modification ; hereby ratifying and confirming all that said attorneys and each of them or 
their substitutes shall do or cause to be done by virtue hereof; and the undersigned does hereby irrevocably authorize said Bank of 
America National Trust and Savings Association to endorse on said bonds and coupons the endorsements respectively con 
tained in said Modification, pursuant to the terms thereof. This letter of Consent and Transmittal shall constitute an agency 
coupled with an interest and shall be irrevocable by the undersigned unless said Modification shall fail to become effective in 
the manner therein provided. In the event said Modification shall not become effective on or before January 1, 1938, the under 
signed hereby requests the Depositary to detach from said deposited bonds interest coupons due July 1, 1937 and all subse 
quently maturing coupons until said Modification shall become operative or shall terminate in accordance with its terms 
and to present the same to the Treasurer of Nevada Irrigation District for payment and upon such payment to remit the pro 
ceeds thereof to the undersigned by check of the Depositary. If such coupons shall not be paid upon presentation, the Deposi 
tary is hereby authorized and directed to cause the same to be registered in the name of the undersigned in the manner provided 
by law. The endorsement of any such checks by the undersigned shall be full release and acquittance to the Depositary for the 
amount of any sums collected by the Depositary and disbursed to the undersigned, which amounts shall be in lieu of the 
interest coupons hereinabove referred to and represented by the proceeds so collected. The agreements contained in this Letter 
of Consent and Transmittal shall be binding upon each successive transferee, owner or holder of said bonds and coupons. 
Please issue a receipt for the above-described bonds in the name of the undersigned owner thereof which receipt shall be negotiable 
in the manner provided in said Modification. All costs and expenses of this deposit are to be paid by said District. 


(Please PRINT in block letters) 

In the Presence of: 

City and State 

Yours very truly, 


(Please sign your name here) 










Fill out and sign the form on the reverse side hereof and transmit it luith your bonds to 

Bank of America National Trust and 
Savings Association 


If it is not convenient for you to deliver your bonds to the Depositary, 
it is suggested that you consult your local bank or investment firm, either of 
which will arrange the forwarding of your bonds to the Depositary. If you 
choose, you may send your bonds directly to the Depositary by insured regis 
tered mail. 

NOTE : Whenever it appears that this Letter of Consent and Transmittal 
has been executed by a trustee, attorney, executor, administrator or guardian, 
proper evidence of his authority so to act must be filed with the Depositary. 

Additional copies of this form may be obtained from Bank of America 
National Trust and Savings Association, or from the Nevada Irrigation District, 
or from the firm through which you purchased your bonds. 

The Bank of America National Trust and Savings Association, as Deposi 
tary, has approved the appointment of the sub-depositaries below named. Any 
bondholder may deposit his bonds with any of the sub-depositaries named below. 
Such sub-depositaries will act for and on behalf of Bank of America National 
Trust and Savings Association and as its agent with respect to such deposits. 

New York: 

Manufacturers Trust Company, 
55 Broad Street, 
New York City. 

Philadelphia : 

The Market Street National Bank of Philadelphia, 
Market and Juniper Street, 
Philadelphia, Pensylvania. 


Old Colony Trust Company, 
1 7 Court Street, 

Boston, Massachusetts. 

Chicago : 

City National Bank & Trust Company of Chicago, 
208 South La Salle Street, 
Chicago, Illinois. 


Bauxa: You had a lawsuit though* Later this fellow Living 
ston earn* up and wanted his 1$. 

Durbrow: Well, that was a put-up lawsuit. 

Bauns That's what I wondered. 

Durbrow: Livingston was a good friend of mine. He was in 

Placer County, a real estate dealer in Auburn. As Z 
remember it, we wanted to get a court decision on 
certain matter, so we had him bring this suit, which 
turned out in our favor. 

Baumt Yes, I thought it was probably a put-up case because 
A. L. Cowell was his attorney. 

Durbrow: Yes, and A. L. Cowell was also a close friend of mine. 
In fact, they all were. I think Tresdwell was in 
there and I can't remember why Treadwell was in it. 

Baumt Xes. I reed the court case and there wasn't anything 

about Treadwell. I wondered what he had to do with 
it. This was one that J. Rupert Mason was in. 

Durbrowt Oh, yes, he objected very strenuously to everything. 

Baumi He wasn't pert of the put-up case, was he? 

Durbrow; No, he was against us all around. Of course, I knew 
him also, very well. He is a great writer and wrote 
to me often. He also visited me at my home. He was 
very much opposed to any change in the original bonds 
as issued by districts. He maintained that when dis- 


Durbrow: trlcts had sold to bondholders at a certain price, 

they should pay It whether they had to pay it through 
the nose or not, which was against economic law, you 
know. It wasn't good economics* As a matter of fact, 
had the districts had to pay exactly what they had 
originally contracted to pay to the bondholders, 
there would have been an entire new deal of the lands 
of the whole state. A lot of the districts would 

have failed. 

j^ ^. 
Baumi I was wondering what you thought of the Municipal 

Bankruptcy Actt 

Durbrow: I think it was a very wise act to save districts and 
I guess to save certain small cities that were over 
loaded with debt. It was, in a way, a humanitarian 
act. If a district was overloaded with debt and 
couldn't pay it, it was Just the seme as a man who 
couldn't pay his debts. He was allowed to go into 
bankruptcy and there is no reason why a district 
couldn't go into bankruptcy, which they did. I 
think It was really a good thing for the bondholders 
too. In most cases they got a fair deal. In some 
eases I'll say they didn't. 

Baums I remember you said concerning Glenn-Colusa that you 
thought they didn't need to refinance at such a low 

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Durbrow: I think In the case of Glenn-Colusa it wasn't as 

necessary as some of the others because they had the 
ability to pay out, as it later turned out* 

Baurot The Nevada District never used the Bankruptcy set. 

Durbrow: No, 

Baum: Never tried to cut your principal. 

Durbrow: No, we never out the principal in the least. 

Baum: Don't you think you could haveT 

Durbrow: We could have used that R.P.C. loan, but it wouldn't 
have been es good for the district, 

Baum: Why do you say it wouldn't have been es good for the 
district? Wouldn't it neve eut down the amount you 
had to pay? 

Durbrow: Possibly, but depending how the R.P.C, handled the 
bonds end also you would have had to pay a higher 
rate of interest on the amount you would have had to 
pey, I think the best thing for the district was to 
have done as they did for the reason that it main* 
tained good faith in their credit. The credit of 
the district was exceedingly good for a long time 
after that becsuse they had lived up to their obliga 

Bsumt Then you thought it was just good business for the 
district to do it the way you did. 


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Durbrow: Yes* 

Baura: Hot Just that it was fairer to the bondholders? 

Durbrow: Well... when I went up there I represented both the 
district and the bondholders, I went up there to 


refinance the district. So I thought we ought to be 
fair to those who had financed us* But I really think 
the district was in better shape because they met 
their obligations than by trying to run out on then* 

Baurnt I see. 


Purchase of Scotts Flat TVaervoir Lands 

Durbrow: About 19^5 the district needed sn additional water 
supply, and, as the best source, we decided to build 
Scotts Plat Dam on Deer Creek, We had already pur- 

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chased the Excelsior Water and Power Company from 
Fred Ayers of Boston, president end owner of Excel 
sior Water & Power Co. Re was head of a very wealthy 
and powerful financial family. The company owned at 
that time about 20# of the land in the district. Also, 
they owned a large tract of land up on Deer Creek, 
part of which would be covered by tfcte reservoir cre 
ated by Scotts Flat Dam. When we decided to build 
Scotts Flat T>aro, the W.P.A. was then in existence . 1 
made a deal with a lumber company that we get the 

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Durbrowr W.P.A. to cut the lumber and they would take the log* 
and give ua in exchange lumber that the W.P.A. oould 
uae In building a camp for housing them while they 
were doing the work of clearing the reservoir aite and 
to be used later when we were building the dam* Well, 
I ran up against thia problem. While the district 
had negotiated around 1926 with Fred Ayers on the 
uae of part of the property to be covered by the res 
ervoir, all he had given was an easement to flood 
thia area, not the ownership of it* The tract they 
owned amounted to about three or four thousand acres. 

I -went to our attorney and told him what we 
wanted to do. He said, "As aoon as your W.P.A. men 
cut the timber off that land, the timber will belong 
to Ayers because you don't own the land and the tim 
ber is part of the land." So I figured we had to 
buy the property. Ayera had become dissatisfied as 
the owner of land at this time and waa liquidating. 
Bill Allen, living on a part of the property at Smart- 
ville, waa the representative of Ayers in liquidating 
the property. So I went down to see him about buying 
this land. I thought I'd better be pretty cheap. I 
think the tract was about three thousand five hundred 
acres and I offered him $5,000 for the whole thing, 

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Durbrowt about $1.50 an acre, Well, he went into the air and 
said, "Bill, you 1 re trying to steal it. Mo, I won't 
sell it to you for that. I 1 11 tell you, I'll take 
$10,000." Well, I was flabbergasted. I thought Id 
have to pay about $20,000 for the property. So my 
$5,000 kind of set the price. So I said, "Let's com 
promise and make it $700. n So I finally bought the 
property for $7,500. I don't know how many thousands 
of dollars worth of timber they've sold off of that 
property. I sold &3,000 or $lj.,000 worth of timber, 
besides the deal with the W.P.A. Also, we owned the 
whole property, we could do as we pleased with it. 
We put up the building on it for the housing of the 
W.P.A. and they cleared the land without cost to us. 

Bowman House 

Durbrowt Also about the W.P.A., we had an old house at 

Bowman. It wasn't even framed. It was two-story, and 
used to sway with the wind. It was forty or fifty 
years old at the time and been headquarters for the 
original owners of Bowman Reservoir. The district 
owned it. It was called Bowman House, a rather fam 
ous old place. While I was manager of the district, 
it burned down. Pack rats got in and got ahold of 

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Durbrow: some matches* I lost a number of things I had up 
there, a very fine phonograph that came from ray 
father's house in San Francisco and some surveying 
instruments* It wasn't insured* 

After that I decided we had to build a new Bow 
man House. I had a man working for the district who 
had taken architectural training at the University. 
He was a bright boy and I liked and had confidence in 
him. So I told him to go up to Bowman House* X 
said, "I'll give you a chance to make ua a plan be* 
fore we get an architect." He made a wonderful plan* 
It was Just perfect. 

We had the W.P.A. working for us. They said 
their men would do rock work. So I decided we'd 
build a house partly out of rock* The first story 
was of rock end the second story of timber* It's 
really a beautiful place. 

We started to build it and when we got it about 
half done the W.P.A. got orders from Washington to 
quit. No more W.P.A. So here I was with an expen 
sive house half finished. I decided we had to finish 
it. I thought I'd get a lot of criticism on account 
of it. As a matter of fact, it only coat us, with 
the work that had been done, about f 10, 000* It would 


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DurbrowJ cost from 150,000 to $100,000 today* 

So I finished it* I took the board of directors 
up there. I thought, "3y gosh, they'll think thit if 
too expensive. 11 We got up there end they were ell 
tickled to death. Everyone in the dietriet who went 
up there waa pleased with it* It was a great credit 
to the district. 

Baum: What waa it used for? 

Durbrowt It was district headquarters for the Mountain Division 
as well as a guest house* I used to take guests up 
there. Also, it was the headquarters for a ditch 
tender* I got a ditch tender that had a wife who 
would cook for us and take care of the house. I had 
some very funny experiences there* 

We were doing some refinancing and I used to 
take people up there who were interested in our re 
financing and entertain them overnight* We had lots 
of room, three separate bedrooms besides a big dormi 
tory room you could put several people in. One time 
I took Walter Heller, quite a prominent bond roan in 
San Francisco, to look over the mountain works, with 
some other men. So that night and the next day we 
went over the whole matter of refinancing the bonds 
as well as looked over the works. When I came down 

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Durbrow: to San Francisco s couple of days later, I met a man 
and he said, "What did you do to Walter Heller up 
there at Bowman?" I said, "Why, I don't know* We 
entertained him up there.* "Well," he said, "You 
must have sold him the district because he came down 
and bought a half million dollars worth of bonds," 

I figured that house paid for itself, oh, dozens 
of times over. Whenever I had any problem I used to 
take the dirsctors up there or men to talk with them 
concerning certain matters. Problems with the ?. 0. 
& E, were discussed with them, and we usually came to 
an agreement* The house is still there* 

Baum: When did you have this W.P.A. work going on? 

Durbrow: That was around 19i^ to 19U6. 

Baum: It must have closed down when the war came on. 

Durbrow: It closed down and then started up again* I remember 
it just closed down for awhile* 

Baum: I remember reading that when you got this R.F.C. 

offer, that at the same time you got so much money 
you could spend on. having W.P.A. work done. 

Durbrow: We didn't get any money, We got labor* We ran a 
tunnel for Scotts Plat dam water delivery with the 
labor* All this work was done before we got the 
money for building Scotts Plat. I saw a chance for 
getting this W.P.A. so we used them for clearing the 

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Durbrowt reservoir site and doing a lot of other preliminary 
work. It saved a lot of money. 

Baum: When did you put up Scotts Flat Dam? 

Durbrow: Well, it wasn't quite finished in ltf when I left. It 
was in f lj. or 'k6. The money was raised in '1+3 in the 
modification contract of *k3 

After this modification went through we had to 
sell some bonds so it took a little time after the 
'J43 modification went through before we sold the 
bonds. Scotts Plat was built in '[(.6 and '!*?. 

Lend Delinquencies 

Baum: During the depression did the district acquire a lot 
of delinquent lands? 

Durbrow: Yes, we acquired quite a lot of land. 

Baum: Was this agricultural land? 

Durbrow: Some of it was agricultural land. The district 1 ! 
policy at that time was to get tax-sale land back 
into the hands of the taxpayers as quickly as possi 
ble so the taxes would be paid on it. There was one 
particular case where a tract of land belonged to a 
man named Whitney, who I mentioned owned the Loma 
Rica Ranch. Anyway, Whitney, a well-known man in New 
York, owned quite a lot of land. When the high taxes 

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Durbrowt came he dropped quite a lot of the land, didn't pay 
taxes on it, and the district became the owner. 
After the district sells to a new owner, he has to 
clear up the title by going through a quiet-title 
suit. There was one big piece of land that he owned 
that the district took title to. I thought we could 
sell that off at a good profit to various people In 
the district. So I had u man who knew him write to 
Whitney, for $100, to clear the title to the prop 
erty. This tract contained six or seven hundred acres 
of land, not very good land, but well situated. The 
bank had a second mortgage and, as they had other 
means of collecting the debt, they gave the district 
a quit-claim to it. So that waa how I obtained a 
perfect title for the district by paying $100. A 
quiet-title suit would have cost thousands of dollar* 
and taken quite a long tine* Then we sold that proper 
ty to various people at a good profit to the district. 

There were a number of cases like that. Quit* 
a lot of land during those years when the taxes were 

rather high went into the district. Later the dis- 

trict land rose in value and we had lass and less 

Beumt What kind of lands would come into your hands? Would 

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Bauml they be fruit orchards or gracing lands? 

Durbrovs Veil, not usually orchards, though aorae orchards 
can* In, the poor ones. Hot any good ones. 

Baumt It was usually the poorer lands, I suppose* 

Durbrovs Poorer lands, but lands that later might become 

valuable for residential purposes* I said when I 
first went into the Nevada Irrigation District, 
after I looked it over, "This is not strictly an 
agricultural a re a *^' Of course, aweh of it is good 
for livestock, good grazing land, and irrigated pas 
ture, but I maintained that the future of the dis 
trict was largely residential. Just as the Santa 
Barbara country and other areas in California which 
are beautiful to live in and have a fine climate. 
And really it has become so. The Nevada Irrigation 
District is a nice place to live and more and more 
people, some with considerable money, are coming out 
from the cities and buying places there and retiring* 

Baurnt These are retired people? 

DurbrowJ Hot always, but many retired people* Some of then 
wealthy people* 

Baumi These delinquent lauds, did you get small ranches 

where the people lived? Did they lose their lend, or 
was it mainly large landholdinga where the owner prob- 

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Baura: ably wasn't too interested in it? 

Durbrow: No, we didn't lose many small tracts. In the first 

place, in an irrigation district the improvements are 
not taxed, Just tha land. Tfas land tax on resident-' 
ial property was small] it didn't affect then very 
much. It wasn't the very large holdings either be 
cause the very large holdings were usually held by 
people who could afford to pay. Sueh tracts war* 
mostly being held for timber or livestock. A great 


deal of the land in the district was pasture land 
and it has become valuable for livestock, particu 
larly with irrigated pasture. 

Baum: But these large landholdings didn't come into the 
district hands either? 

Durbrow: No, very few of them. This Whitney estate was on* 

of the largest we acquired, about aix hundred acres. 

Baum: That 1 a not very large. 

Durbrowt No. 

Baura: Are there many large landholdings in the Nevada Irri- 


gation District? 

Durbrowt Oh yes, I would say there are a great many large land- 
holdings. The raising of livestock requires large 

Baum: That's mainly unimproved land, isn't it? 

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Durbrow: No, a lot of it has been Improved. The owners have 

taken off the brush or timber and have planted irri 
gated pastures. There are some very fine herds of 
registered stock in the district. 

Third Modification - 1943 

l?y*3i .<?':: 

Baum: What sort of problems made it necessary for you to 
refinance again in 1943? 

Durbrow: In 1943 there wasn't any trouble. It was just that 
I figured there were a lot of things which I thought 
would be to the advantage of the district to do* For 
instance, the second contract between the P. G. & E. 
and the district was dated May 8, 1928. In that eon- 

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tract the district agreed to pay the P. 0. & E. 
&5,140 a year for the enlargement of the Vise Canal. 
I figured this out and while they admitted it was as 
much as 1%, I found it figured out that the district 
was paying nearly 8# under that contract. That is, 
the principal plus 8. I got them to agree to let 
us pay off the balance due, and we borrowed, through 
a bond issue, money for less than 3/ to do this. 
Baum: Oh, on the basis of your good credit, I imagine. 

Durbrow: Yes. The difference between 3# end 8# is over 
some forty or fifty years. It made quite a lot of 

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Durbrowt money, enough money to actually build Scotts Pl*t 

Dam. I figured by making that payment to ths- P. <*. 
ft E. It financed the building of Scotts Plat Dan. 

There were a lot of other details to this new 
agreement with P. G. ft E. We were allowed to pay out 
of the money received from the P. <*. & E. an amount of 
$87,000 a year which we could use In financing a bond 
Issue. This was done with the consent of the bond* 
holders under this 19^3 modification* 

19U3 was a major modification because it allowed 
us to use money that we formerly had to pay to the 
P. 0. & E. for financing a bond issue. This bond 
issue allowed us to pay off certain amounts we owed 
P, 0. & E. Co. and in addition build certain neces 
sary works. 

Baumt So you have really handled three major refinancings* 
Durbrowi Yes. Prior to the modification of 19l;3 there was a 
long negotiation between myself and the P. G. & E., 
with an attorney at their offices mostly, part of 
the time at Bowman House, to accomplish a renegotia 
tion of the original contract. It was quite an intri 
cate affair to renegotiate such contract. 

Baum: Most of the work on this 19^4-3 modification was with 


the P. G. & E. Was there any objection by any bond* 

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Durbrow: No. The contract renegotiations were with the P. 0. 
& E. After that it had to go to the bondholders to 
get them to agree that this money which was formerly 
paid the P. 0, & E., or rather deducted from the 
amount they paid us, could be used for building this 

dam and other works as well as pay off certain oblige* 

tions we owed P. G. & B. Co. 

Baumt Was there any objection by bondholders to this 1914-3 


Durbrow: Not a great deal of objection. 

Baum: It Just sounds so reasonable. 

Durbrow : It went through rather easily. I did most of it down 

in San Francisco. I had an office there and a man 

who handled the letters of consent as they came in* 

It was rather easily done. The only thing, the man 
died during the time he was doing it, so I had to 
finish his job. The man was named George Henry. We 
got to be very close friends. His name doesn't appear 
In any of these modification booklets. 

Baurat I've heard of him. Didn't he do other work on irriga 
tion districts? 

Durbrow) Yes, some. He was a very fine chap. I got to be very 
fond of him. 



. . 










. qsr: 


Assessment Policies 

Baumi Some general questions about the district* I had 

' , . .. 

noticed in looking through the liets of average 

assessments for the various districts that the Nevada 

' ' '-."'.* 

District seemed to have one of the lowest acreage 


Durbrows The reason for that was the character of the lands. 

v -. 
The lands wouldn't stand a high assessment. We put 

a very low valuation on them which resulted in a low 


Baum: At about what per cent did you value the land, wnat 
per cent of Its market value? 


Durbrow: Well, I would say that we assessed it at about 2# of 



its value. Sot higher than that, Of course, a lot 

..}& .*- 
of land might appear to be worth more because of the 

improvements, but the district doesn't assess improve* 
ments. It's pretty hard to say what percentage of 
true value is put on the land* I would say that prob 
ably most of the time we put a pretty conservative 
value, not over 2#. 

Would you say that was about the average valuation 
for other irrigation districts? 

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Some irrigation districts have some odd ways of 
assessing. For Instance, Turlock end Modesto, I think, 

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Durbrow: used to assess land at a value depending on distance 
from town; say &100 an acre, one mile from town| ten 
miles from town, $5>0 an acre) twenty-five miles from 
town, so much less. 

Baura: Irregardless of the fertility of the land? 

Durbrow: Regardless of anything. That was in old times. Z 
don't know what they do now. There are a whole lot 
of different methods. In Glenn-Colusa, my recollec 
tion is that at one time we assessed all lands the 
same* That isn't true at all as to real value, you 


Baum t 

Mo, the lends aren't equivalent. 

'hey are not of equal value at all. X think assess- 
ments within many irrigation districts have but little 
relation to the actual value. 

Baum: I've got the figures. The assessment rate in the 

r - 

Sevada District was about $1 per flOO in 19ij.6, |2 
in 19lj7, 13 In 19lj-8, and then it went up to 15 per 



Durbrow: When I was there, except for the first two years, we 


kept it down to about $1 per tlOO, which amounted to 


about $30,000 e year and that was about as much as 

the district could stand at that time. 


Your valuation must have been very low. 

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Officials and Employees of tha District 

Baumt *t seemed to me that about the time you ceased to 

be manager, Forrest Varney took over after you? 
Durbrowi Yes, Forrest Varney. 
Baunt And the assessment want up* 
Durbrow: Yes. 

Baum! I was wondering if that was a change in policy or 

#t/;; :; :; 

just an increase in expenses? 

Durbrow: It was an attempt to increase the income of the dis- 

*' . 

trict. I had quite a lot of trouble with labor, as a 

. . 

demand for higher pay was brooding* At one time, just 

before I left, lator unions wanted to come in and I 

- ' ; 
was very much opposed to that* 

Baumt You mean for district workers? 

Durbrowj For district workers. No district had a union* X 

also had this idee, to use as our employees, district 
landowners, and I tried to keep it so. Small land 
owners. The result is that many of them were really 
working for themselves more or less* I tried to keep 
the coats down by this and other means* After Varney 
came in the policy was changed. The employees wanted 
bigger wages, better Jobs all around, which of course 
I might have had to do in time, but I didn f t up to 
the time I left the district. 

. _.L . :- 

: ' 





'*r> -' 


Baum: Did he continue to try to employ landowners? 

Durbrow: Many of the men that I employed are still working for 
the district in spite of the fact that it was ten 
years ago that I left there* I see a lot of them} they 
often speak to me on the street, and several I hear 
from each year at Christmas. 

Forrest Varney was succeeded by Charles T. Law* 
Charlie Law v;as my assistant when I was there* He's 
a very good engineer, a Kew York nan. Came from 
New York many years ago as a mining engineer and 
bought land in the district. He was employed by the 
district before I came there and I kept him on as 
assistant* He was a very good assistant* but I don't 
think he had the quaiifi cat ions to be a manager* He 
wasn't cut out for that. 

Baumt When Varney was replaced by Law, .1n not too long a 

tine... I wondered if this indicated changes in poll* 
cy or was it just a matter 01' circumstance? 

Durbrow: No, I think that wes circumstance. He was kind of a 
fill-in. He became sick and died later. He continued 
as manager until he became sick. 

Baumt Who was president when you were director? 

Durbrow: The first man was J. A. Teagarden, a Placer County 

orchard man. After that, a man named Thomas Muleahy, 

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Durbrow: also an orchard man. He was president until I left. 

Baum: He's not president any more. 

Durbrow: No, he died and all my old directors are out* 

Baum: Was that because of the change in the ruling group? 

Durbrow: Partly. Of course a lot of the fellows who worked 
for me left at the same time I left. They were not 
agreeable to going under the changed policy* Now, of 
course, most of my old directors have died. 

Baura: During the years when you were director, what groups 
would you say were most influential in policy forma* 

Durbrow: Well, I don't know as there was sny particular group. 
Different individuals used to come in once in 
while and sit in the room with the board of directors* 
The board of directors during my time were all success 
ful farmers. They were well distributed over the dis 
trict and they knew the feelings of the people of the 
district pretty well end they really represented the 
district. There wasn't much necessity for people 
coming in to see that there interests were properly 
taken care of. 

Baum: Did they represent a wide variety of people? Did some 
of them represent the large landowners, or the cattle 

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Durbrow: That was the beauty of it* They represented pretty 
near a cross-section of tha whole district. The 
roan from Placer County waa a fruit grower, named 
Singer. Mulcahy waa a fruit grower and had been at 
one time a larger landowner, Schwartz waa a large 
landowner. Oh, there were quite a number be a idea 
those. Several of then died and one retired* 

Baurai I noticed In some of your printed material that 
Mr. L. 0. Wisler was accountant for the diatriet. 

Durbrow: Yea, Wisler was the accountant for the diatrict. I 
had known him for some time, knew him as a very good 
accountant. Wisler la kind of a crank in some things* 
but he waa a very good accountant and very ho neat. I 
had him on Nevada Irrigation Diatriet accounting and 
he did very well* 

Baumi Does he still do accounting for districts? 

Durbrow: Not very much. He's getting pretty well along in 

years and has turned it over to others. His son, who 
lives up at Trecy, ia also an accountant. He's the 
accountant for some district up there* 

Bauret Hssn't Mr. Wlaler still got an establishment in Oakland? 

Durbrow: He may have, but run by others. I hear from him once 
in a while. He's always been in the Pacific Building 

In Oakland. I uaed to go there quite often. He also 


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Durbrow* used to do my personal Income tax* I don't have to 

go down there any wore. I hare a man up here locally 
to do it. Wlsler is a single-tax advocate and edits 
a small paper which he aenda me occasionally* J. Ru 
pert Mason, whom I have mentioned, is also a single- 
taxer and writes once in a while for the paper edited 
by Wialer, which I think is called "Liberty." 

There is one thing I would like to aay about 
Nevada Irrigation District. I haven't mentioned the 
name of George Herri ngton. George Herrington is one 
of the partners of Orrick's firm. It was his brains, 
his legal brains, that worked out the details of 
these different modifications that we went through. 
The first plan Orrick did mostly, but the two later 
modifications were all the legal work of George Her 
rington* He* s a very able man and did a wonderfully 
fine job on these modifications. 

Baum! He's worked out other refinancing plans for othe? 

districts, hasn't he? 

DurbrowJ Yes. He's an attorney for some of the stock and bond 
houses, Blyth and Company particularly, who were very 
instrumental in our modifications. 

Baum: Oh, Blyth and Company worked on the modifications? 

Durbrow: Oh yes, they helped with it. They represented a con- 



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DurbrowJ siderable number of owners of bonds* 

Baumt Who was their represents tire on the bondholders* ad 
visory committee? 

DurbrowJ They didn*t have s representative. 

Baum: But they worked with the bondholders advisory com 

Durbrow* Yes, and they worked very closely with Herri ngton. 

A man named John Inglis of Blyth and Company, a vice- 
president of Blyth and Company at the present tine, 
was particularly instrumental in the work and helped 

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Early Leaders of the Association 

Baum: When did you first become associated with the Irriga 
tion Districts Association? 

Durbrovt I became associated as soon as we formed Glenn-Colusa 
Irrigation District. 


Durbrowi Well, I didn't go to the first meeting, not until 1920. 
At that time a man by the name of 3, A. Hultman was 
the president. The first tine that we really got 
into oontact with the Irrigation Districts Associa 
tion was when a former president of the Irrigation 


About 1919? 

:* ''' '.* 

Districts Association, C. E. Steinegal, who later 
became a supervisor of San Joaquin County, came up to 
Willows and talked to a group of us as to the associa 
tion. It was then that we decided that we would go 

into the association. Steinegal preceded Hultman as 

. : - 


Baum) It was a very small association, wasn't it, then? 
Durbrowi It was small, although it took in praetieally all of 

the irrigation districts at that time in the state. 

In fact, it always has represented practically all. 

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Durbrowl Once In a while there is some disagreement over some 
policy and one or two districts will drop out* Every 
once in a while one or two drop out because they are 
not interested in the proceedings* But, by in large, 
the association has represented all of the irrigation 
districts of the state. 

Baum: Was it expensive to join at that time? 

Durbrow? No, it was not expensive. In fact, when I first went 
into the association they had a limit of $2f> on dis 
tricts up to a certain acreage, X think 5?0,000 acres. 
It was very small* Of course, the association was 
largely supported, at that time, by the more wealthy 
districts, like Fresno District, Imperial District, 
and Turlock District. Those were very strong in the 
association at that time, and they supported it 

Bauml When you first went to the Irrigation Districts Asso 
ciation, was that as president of the board of direc 
tors of Glenn-Colusa? This was before you were mana 

Durbrow: Yea. I was president of Glenn-Colusa as soon as it 
was organized* 

BaumJ Who was your manager at that time? 

Durbrow: A man named Charles F. Lambert. He was the secretary 

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Durbrowt and manager, I think the first year or two years. 
Then Raymond Matthew* 

Baums Was Charles Lambert interested in the Irrigation 
Districts Association at that time? 

Durbrowt Yes. He attended the first several meetings* It was 
about the second or third meeting that I attended and 
I was elected president of the association when Hult- 
man f s term expired. That was in 1923 Then I served 
as president from 1923 to 1933 *n years. That 
would mean that I was elected five different times, 
two-year terms. 

Bauro: After you retired as president, you still continued 

to serve, didn't you, on the board of directors? 

Durbrowt Yes. I still serve as a member of the executive com 
mittee. That's largely a courtesy | my name is still 
on there as a member of the executive committee. I 
an still sent all records of the association which 
cone out, the minutes of the meetings and all such 

Baum: I think you mentioned that you don*t attend very much 

any more. 

D-irbrow: No, I seldom attend. There are several reasons for 
not attending. One is that I have no particular in- 

terests to serve, as to any particular district. Also, 

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^urbrowt m7 a on Is now the executive secretary-treasurer of the 
association and I don't feel that I want to interpose 
any family connections in that matter. So I let him 
alone aa far a a I'm concerned. 

Baum: I'd like to have some description of what the I.D.A. 
was like in 1923 when you came in. 

Durbrow: In 1923 we had a very powerful group of men interested 
in irrigation matters who uaed to come and attend the 
meetings. One was Hike P. Tarpey, who was president 
of Fresno Irrigation District and a very earnest man 
in the association. There was also Pat Griffin who 
was the attorney for Turlock Irrigation Diatrict and 
Oakdale. His principal district was Turlock. ^hen, 
there waa A. L. C owe 11, who had been secretary of the 
association for some time past, although he waa not 
at that time, V. B Wagner was the secretary* 

Beam: Wagner became secretary at the same time aa you be 
came president, didn't he? 

Durbrowi ilo, I think not. Wagner was secretary of the Merced 
Irrigation District and in that way came into the 
association* It waa a short while before my time* 

Later, there was Homer Hankina, who waa one of 
the attorneys of the firm of Hankins end Hankins. 
Homer Hankins became a very useful attorney for the 

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Durbrow: association and he gave a great deal of his time to it, 

Bauxnt I f ve seen the name of Homer Hankins. What was the 
name of the other HankinaT 

Durbrow: Judson J. Hankina. 

Baumi Bid he also work with the irrigation districts or 
nob ao much? 

Durbrowi He did not work aa much with the association. He was 
landholder in Glenn-Coluse Irrigation District and 
his firm were the attorneys. Homer Hankins did moat 
of the law work for the Glenn-Coluaa, but Jud Hankins 
used to appear often at the meetings* 

T hen, there we aj Charlie Childera of Imperial. 
Ho, he wasn't at thaf; time. The man who was the at* 
torney lor Imperial before Childera was a man named 

Beam: These were the men you feel were most influential? 

Durbrows At that time* And then, L. L, Dennett, who was an 
attorney for South San Joaquin District and a state 
senator. Then, W. II. Shaffer, of Consolidated Irri 
gation District, a very early member and very prom* 
inent in the association* 

These men and others I don't recall really gave 
the association tone* I remember we used to have 
very earnest discussions* There wasn't alwaya una.uim- 







- ,:> 


Durbrow: ity of opinion* We used to have some pretty good 

discussions. Bat I remember very often, at the end, 
Mike Tarpey would get up and say, "Now, we've disa 
greed and we've had a fine meeting and we've come to 
an agreement on things and that's the way an asso 
ciation should be." Pat Griffin was also a very 
strong advocate of the association, and he also was 
very able attorney for Turlock, Then of course 
there was Walter D. Wanner who was not only our 
secretary, but also our legislative representative 
or lobbyist 

Bauxat How would you characterize Walter Wagner? 

Durbrow: I would characterize Wagner as a good politician* 

He first learned his politics in San Bernardino County, 
where he was elected as County Auditor. He was very 
successful in the California legislature as a lobbyist 
for the Irrigation Districts Association in getting 
measures approved that were in the interest of the 
various districts* He also served during Governor 

* .; 

Richardson's administration as Director of Institu 
tions, Before that he had helped in organising Merced 
Irrigation restrict. When we established an office 
In San Francisco for the Irrigation Districts Associa 
tion, he was for the first time paid a regular salary 


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I>urbrowt and was very instrumental in making the Association 
into a stronger organization* Hia very complete 
knowledge of the districts of the state caused him 
to be selected by the Irrigation and Drainage Dirt* 


aion of the R*P.C. to act aa an appraiser in connection 
with their loana to the diatricta in California and ha 
remained aa such aa well aa Secretary-Treasurer of 
the Association until his death* 

Baumt Whan did Wagner diet 

Durbrow: Walter D. Wagner died in the spring of 19*4j.* H* wa* 

elected secretary of the Irrigation Districts of Cali 
fornia on March th, 1921, and served a a such until 
his death* 

Baumt Wasn't it shortly after that your aon became secre 
tary of the association? 

Burbrow: Wagner died during war tine and the I.T>*A. was not 

too active at that tine. **ra* Margie Worrell had been 
his secretary for some tine end had handled not only 
the association business but very efficiently the in 
surance business that the association was carrying on 
at that time* She was well liked in the association 
and continued on a a temporary secretary-treasurer 
during the interval until we, the executive committee, 
could select a successor to Wagner. We wanted a 

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Durbrow* younger men and moat of tha young nan at that time 
were in the array or in aorae way connected with tha 
war effort. We had rejected quite a few who applied 
or were auggeated. My aon, Robert Terrill Durbrow, 
returned from Germany around the firat of 19i& He 
waa a captain in the army. A number of membera of 
the executive committee had known him aa aaaiatant 
farm adviaor in Merced County and alao aa agriculture 
teacher at Brentwood High School and thought of him 
for the job. They interviewed him on hia return and 
ended in appointing him executive aeeretary-treaaurer 
on February 2, 191*6. 

Function a of the Aaaociation 

Baum: What were some of the thinga you fought about? 

Durbrow: At that time the act creating irrigation districta 
waa rather new, the districts had increased their 
functions, and a lot of ohangea were necessary. The 
association 1 a minutes were taken up very largely with 
discussions over changes in the act which were recom 
mended. We never eaked the legislature for any appro- 
prietiona, but when we asked the legislature for 
changes in the act, they were usually consented to. 
So tha association really made that act. 

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Durbrowt Also, there was a lot of discussion at that tine 
over the new bond la sue a and alao in regard to the 
Bond Certification Commission* They all required new 
additions to the set. 

Baumi Was there any difference of opinion that was a really 
crucial different point of view? Were there two 
aides, by any chance, or was it just as to how things 
would work out on little things? 

Durbrowt No, the association never divided itself into fac 
tions, but occasionally a change that was wanted 
might step on the toes of one district and there 
would be some objections* It hsd to be worked out 
so as not to hurt some certain district* It was e 
matter of give and take* 

Baum: I wanted to ask you about the court cases that I.r>,A. 
took part In* 

Durbrowt There were a great many court eases* Zf the court 
case affected a number of districts or affected the 
act, the association often entered into it as amicus 
curie* The ettorneys, Hankins and Hankina, Griffin 
and Boone, A, L. Cowell, Charles Childers, (who be 
came the attorney for Imperial, and he was followed by 
Harry Horton), as well as others, freely gave time and 
advice* In all cases where it affected irrigation 



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Durbrowi districts or the act, these people gave very liberally 
of their time* They were paid by their own districts. 
They didn't charge the association. 

Another thing, very often districts would write 
in to the association and Wagner, who was then the 
secretary, would write to the attorneys for informa 
tion and suggestions as to procedure on one thing or 
another* Such matters were referred very often to 
a committee of attorneys and they would suggest, . 

even though it wasn't their own districts at all. 


means and methods of operation in conformity with 


Baum: Was there sny disagreement in these court cases you 
would take part in as to which side you should be on? 

Did some of the districts favor one point of view and 


some another? 
DurbrowJ No, that didn't come up until perhaps the time when 

the Reclamation Bureau became prominent in irrigation 
matters. When I started in there was only one reclama 
tion district in California, the Orland Project* La* 
ter the Declamation Bureau built Shasta and proceeded 
to be quite prominent in the water natters of the 
state. Some of the things, which under the Reclamation 
Act were attempted, were objected to very strongly by 


>,' '. 







Inirbrowt the districts. The principal things were the 160- 

sere limitation and its ideas on water rights* These 
have been fought over very strongly and a till are 
being fought over* 

Baumt On that limitation* were all the I.E. A, members on 
the same side* that is, against it? 

Durbrowi Well* it did not affeet ell of them* Another thing* 
the irrigation districts themselves had brought about 
smaller ownership of lands, just in a normal way* 
r or inatanee* you take Modesto* Turlock, and South 
San Joaquin* and other early districts* Through na 
tural processes the lands in these districts were 
divided up into smaller holdings and there would have 
been no necessity for a 160-acre limitation* 

Baums The irrigation district assessments Just operated to 
break the holdings up? 

Durbrowi Yes* And slso* the more intense cultivation due to 

irrigation* The raiaing of crops that were conducive 
to smaller acreages* But there were still some large 
holdinga in the districts of the aasoeiation and in 
aome cases these people wanted Reclamation Bureau help. 
They objected to the 160-acre limitation* so the aaso 
eiation rather fought to do away with that limitation, 
Z don't know what will be the final outcome of it* 

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Baumt But none of this conflict cam* up when you were presi 

dent? I don't think this came up until the late 1930' s. 

Durbrowi No, the reclamation Bureau hadn't started to serve any 
of our districts with water. That came later* 

Baunl What did you think of the 160-ecre limitation per 


The Irrigation Districts Association has always been 
against the 160-acre limitation and personally I en 
very much opposed to it when privately owned landa 
are concerned* As to public domain landa that are 
owned by and are being reclaimed by the government, I 
can see some justification. In the case of private 
holdings, the limitation seems to be an attempt to do 
by lew what should come about through economic pro* 
cess* As irrigation increases in a district, values 
also tend to increase and subdivision to smaller 
acreages occurs naturally* both by the necessity for 
more intensive cultivation, and the desire for profit* 
In this country, inheritance also plays its part to* 
ward smaller holdings* Then there is the economic 
requirement of larger acreages to profitably raise 
certain crops which may have fallen in price* Another 
thing is that it limits the efficient and hard-working 
farmer* He gives to others an example and creates 

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Durbrowi competition which is as necessery in farming aa in 
other endeavora. We don't want to creete a peasant 
class in America. 

BaumJ One queation that might have come up waa one about 

the Irrigation Districts Association favoring the 
districts generating and retailing their own power* 
That waa Wagner's point of view, wasn't it? 

Durbrowi I couldn't say that. We early favored the genera* 
tion of power* That required very great changes in 
the act, which the association helped provide. It 
required eonaiderable changes in the act to allow 
theae different districts to generate and distribute 
power, which some of them did to their own people, 
like Modesto and Turloek. And Imperial also* . 

Baumf Aa I read from the minutes, it sounded like Walter 
Wagner favored the districts retailing their own 

Durbrowt No, I wouldn't say that* I wouldn't say that there 

waa any thought in the association favoring districts' 
power power policies* ^he districts really ran it 
their own way and the association was always for what 
the diatricta wanted to do. 

Baumt So if one district wanted to retail its power, then 
the association would be willing to fight for that 

< * f. 









Bftumt district's right to do that? 

Durbrow: Yes, they certainly would* but I don't remember that 
that problem ever came up* The only problem was a 
change in the laws that would allow the proper distri 
bution and sale of power and also would provide for 
how the income from power was to be used. I don't 
remember that there waa any particular problem about 
their right to sell power although at first it waa 
rather opposed by the private companies* 

Methods of Raising Money 

Durbrow s There also came up during ray time the problem of how 
to collect duea. The association originally only 
paid Wagner a very small amount to cover his expenses, 
aa he was at first employed by Merced Irrigation Dis 
trict and later had a Job with the state* Later, we 
had an office in San Francisco and at that time we 
required additional income to pay a secretary full- 
tine* At that time Wagner had retired aa an employee 
of the atate and we wanted him aa a fully paid secre 
tary. So we had to make a change in the method of 
collecting dues* At that time we raised the duea con 
siderably* The dues were allocated very largely on 
the basis of the income of the district, a percentage 

*' ' 











Durbrows of income. Arvin D. Shaw, a well-known attorney in 
Los Angeles, worked out a formula by whioh we col 
lected dues* That formula, with some changes, has 
been uaed ever since. That was done in my time. 


Baurai Was this Increase in dues satisfactory with the dis 

tricts, or did any of them drop out because it was 
too expensive? 

Durbrowt There was very little objection* There was some, 
but we also provided in that first formula that if 
the district felt they were unjustly deslt with they 
could appeal to the executive committee and the mat 
ter could be adjusted. Very few dropped out* I 
think one or two dropped out, but we had practically 
a hundred districts in the association at that time* 

Eaura: flow is the money for I.D.A. rsised nowT 

Durbrows It is raised the same way* The formula has been 
changed considerably and I think it's in the pro- 
cess of change at the present time* 

Baurai The expenses of the association must have increased 

Durbrow: Oh, tremendously. Several things helped to keep our 
dues down. The principal one was the insurance busi 
ness which we entered into. Also, later, when the 
R.F.C. started to refinance some of the districts, 







" "^i : 

. . . 

Durbrow: Wagner, for quite a while prior to his death, became 
the appraiser for the Reconstruction Finance Corpora* 
tion, that ia, the Irrigation and Drainage Division 
of the R.F.C. This was for determining the amount of 
loans to the districts under the bankruptcy act* He 
did a great deal of work for them and was paid by 
them as much as the aasoeistion psid him* It was 
largely to the advantage of the districts anyway* 

Baumt I think I noticed in the minutes that Vegner also 

tried to sell insurance to all the districts through 
the association, 

Durbrowi Ho, that isn't strictly true* One of our means of 
raising money was to go into the insurance business* 
At that time there was quite a little unrest in the 
districts because of insurance rates on bonds for 
the directors and other officers* So we decided that 
we would go into the insurance business* This was 
A* L. Cowell'a suggestion* 

We asked for as much of the districts 1 insurance 
business as they were willing to give us* A great 
many of them didn't give us all their insurance busi 
ness, and some none, because they were tied up to 
local insurance agents, but nearly all gave us their 
bond business, the bonding of the officers* That was 

. . . 



. . 





IHirbrow: very largely handled by the association and we were 
able to decrease rates* Also, a great many of the 
districts gave us much of their fire insurance. 
This was all handled in the association office. It 
produced about half the revenue at that time neces 
sary for running the association* 

Baums Does the association still do that? 

DurbrowJ No. They've given up the insurance business. X 

don't know right now if they have given it up com 
pletely. There's nobody now in the office who is 
licensed to write insurance. It has to be a li 
censed insurance broker. There was a good deal of 
complaint from the insurance agents of the state as 
to this insurance being handled by the association, 
and they appealed to the Insurance Commission to take 
away our license. There was a big fight over that. 

Bauras Because they didn't want the competition? 

Durbrow: Well, they didn't went the competition. I think that 
was largely it. They felt it violated certain laws 
under which the insurance agents worked. 

Bauai I did notice in the minutes that whan Wagner died 
there was some difficulty in straightening out the 
insurance . 

Durbrowt ?es that was an unfortunate thing* The money for 

: - .'..- . 








Durbrow: the insurance business was all deposited in Wagner's 
name and when he died one of his sons claimed that 
it was Wagner's own personal money and claimed that 
Wagner was the insurance broker and entitled to the 
money, which had been accumulated, amounting to 
good many thousands of dollars* We objected to it* 
As a matter of fact, we found in reading the minutes 
that Wagner had agreed that this was not so. We pre 
sented the facts in court and won the case} the asso 
ciation got all the money* It wes Just an unfortunate 
circumstance that came about through the settling of 
his estate* 


Participation in State Water Problems 

Beumi Did the Irrigation Districts Association take any 

interest in the Water and Power Act in 1922, 192lj. and 

Durbrow: ^es, we were not all favorable* We thought some of it 
rather fanciful* 

Baumi ?he whole aasociationf 

Durbrow: Well, most of us in the association considered the 

Marshall Plan a harebrained scheme, which it wes* It 
did, however, arouse the interest of the people of 
the state in the problem of water and I think out of 

" a< , - ' 


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Durbrowt that grew a more determined effort on the part of the 
tete to assess its water problems and find out how 
they could be solved* I think that the earliest work 
done to look at the whole problem was by Paul Bailey* 
State Engineer at that time. I think he was the 
first one to really attempt to assess the water prob 
lems of the state of California and how it eould in 
general be solved* H pointed out at least* that 
northern California had the water and that the South 
was deficient and that if properly handled there was 
enough for the entire state* 

Baumt Then did the asaoeistion take a stand against these 
water and power aots? They were more or leas the 
Marshall Plan. 

Durbrow: I wouldn*t say we took a stand a gainst., *I don't 

think the Marshall plan ever came up for any construc 
tive legislation. 

Baumt These acts were initiative acts and they would have 
provided for the issuance of bonds for the building 
of statewise water and power facilities and they 
were based to some degree on Marshall* s Plan* 

Durbrow: I don't recall that we took any stand for or against 
the HI. 

Baumi Did the association take part in the State Water Plan 

' ;?3C-'.\ : ; :>:>" 1 'rfj 


y ??->.:;.'.' 







Baumi campaign*, about 1933* The Central Valley Project Act, 

Durbrowj Of course, the Irrigation Districts Association always 
took an active interest In any water matter. I had 
also always been very friendly with the various heads 
of the Stete Water Department at that time under the 
State Engineer, Edward Hyatt* Then, before him, He* 
Clure and Paul Bailey, and after him, Bob Edmonston. 
I've worked with them and others on certain plant 
for distributing the waters of the state I remember 
sitting in such a committee with Paul Bailey* 

Baums Did you sit in mainly In your capacity as an engineer 
or as a person familiar with the operation of irriga 
tion districts? 

Durbrowt There were two things. I waa an engineer and also 

interested in the irrigation districts and the Irri 
gation Districts Association. I may say I was in 
terested in a dual capacity. Here la a report of a 
commission I waa a member of. 

Baumi What date waa that? 

Durbrowt The report waa made on December 27, 1930. It waa the 
California Joint Federal-State Water Resources Commis 
sion, the members being appointed by the President of 
the United States and the Governor of the state of 








Durbrowt California* The appointees were George C. Pardee, 
Chairman} William Durbrow, B. A. Etcheverry, Alfred 
Ha r re 11, W. B. Ma thews, Warren Olney, Jr.* and Prank 
E. Weymouth. This was on general water mattera. 
There alao sat on the commission B. B, Meek, Director 
of Public Works, and W. J. Carr, member of the State 

7 ' ' ' ' 

Railroad Commission. 

BaurnJ That was quite an important commission, 
Durbrows Yea, it vaa quite an important commission. It held a 

great many meetings at the Hotel Oakland in Oakland. 

A number of experts were interrogated and appeared 


before the commission, but the report here is just very 
short aa to what the commission recommended* 
Baumt I think in 1933 there was the Garrison Bill which 

would have provided for revenue bonda for the building 
of electricc.1 distribution faeilitiea by the state. 

* ->< tt 

Durbrow: Yes, I knew Garrison very well. I thought he was 

rather a dreamer in these things, not too practical. 
I don't think any of that legislation ever got the 
okay of the people of the state or of the association. 

Achievements of the Association 

Baumt What would you consider the major achievements of the 

->s';?V- . 









. VS.*' 


Durbrow: In the first place, we came together twice year, in 
semi-annual conventions at various locations around 

*T> ' ~'t * 

the state, to consider the problems of the districts. 
The association at such meetings was divided up into 
sections which sometimes had separate meetings. The 
attorneys usually had a sepsrate meeting* Also the 

managers and engineers of the districts, also the 

' : ' , ' i 

assessors and tax-collectors, all had sepsrate meetings. 
Then they came together into larger meetings where we 

met to consider the proposed lews and other problems 

. . . 

affecting the association* 

In the beginning of my time the meetings were 

,. . 

taken up very largely with considerations of the word* 
ing of the act and the set was practicslly developed 
during my administration. We were very kindly treated 
by the legislature* There were legal problems that 

came up always and we were sdvised by the best brains 

of the legal talent in the districts* They slways ap 
peared with us and helped straighten matters out* 
The operating difficulties presented by the different 
districts were sometimes straightened out st our 


* - " 

Bams So you think that the main achievements were partially 
in influencing legislation and partially in helping 
the districts themselves to work out their problems 


Baum: together. 

; ' A. jfr.rt :-' : 

Durbrowt That is true, yes. The Improvement of the act, to 
make it more serviceable to the districts. 

I might list here some of the accomplishments 
for which the association can take full or, in some 
eases, partial credit! 


1) An amendment to the constitution of the state 
which allowed irrigation district bonds to be sold 
tax-exempt. This gave the districts a lower interest 
rate and a better price for their bonds* It saved 
millions for the districts* 

2) Permission to own stock in mutual water com 
panies. This also required a constitutional amend* 


3) Riparian rights to water was giving considera 
ble trouble to irrigation districts, particularly in 
the San Joaquin Valley where large landholders such 

as Miller and Lux, claimed rights under our inherited 
English riparian laws, regardless as to how such water 
was used. We sponsored and succeeded in passing a 
constitutional amendment defining riparian rights to 
water as the amount of water a riparian owner can 
beneficially use on his land by a reasonable means of 
diversion and reasonable methods of use* We were some- 




V: K. 
set \ r 


Durbrow: what concerned as to how the courts would handle this 
amendment, but the supreme court of the state finally 
upheld it* It made many irrigation developments pos 

k) We sponsored and had passed by the legislature 
the right of districts to generate and sell electric 
power both within and outside the boundaries of the 
districts* The passage of this bill was opposed by 
the privately-owned power companies. 

5) The present California Districts Securities 
Commission was created largely by the efforts of the 
association, which sponsored it and helped greatly 

. to paas it through the legislature* As now constituted, 

two of its five members must have had at least five 

years experience in irrigation district management, 

6) A man named Scott from Little Rock, Arkansas* 
headed a group of drainage and reclamation districts 
In the Middle West who were in financial difficulties* 
He wrote me as president of the association, and came 
out to meet us and to solicit our support* Z put him 
in touch with Wagner who waa our executive officer* 
The result finally, after some tine, was the passage 
by Congress of an amendment to the Reconstruction Pi- 
nance Corporation Act, authorizing the refinancing 









; , 

, " r - 


Durbrowt and rehabilitation of various forma of districta. 
Thia haa resulted in the aaving of many districts 
and the lowering of the bonded debt and of interest 
rate a to auoh districts. 




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Financial Problems - 1930 t i 

Baums In the late 1920 a, I was reading that many bankers 
felt that the irrigation district lew, which I be* 
lieve allowed the landowner to redeem hia land for 
three years from the district... 

Durbrowt Yea, the Irrigation Diatriet Aet provides that the 
land doesn't become the property of the district 
until three years after delinquency. So the owner 
has three years during which he can operate after he 
be come a delinquent* 

Baumt I think these bankers argued that if it were cut down 

to one year and the land immediately went to the dis 
trict and was resold, that the districts wouldn't 
have run down financially o badly* Do you think 
that might have been true? 

Durbrow! No, I doubt that* That point waa argued at great 

length in the association, but the association alwaya 
stood for the continuing of the three-year period of 
redemption* Many farmera were able to work them* 
aelvea out in the three-year period* It was to the 
beat interests of the farmera to keep it that way* I 

-' :'">' '_ 



- ? 






Durbrow: don't think the one-year redemption would have changed 
the picture very much* 

Baucis Would there have been buyers for the land anyway? 

Durbrowt No, there usually wouldn't have been any buyers. 

The fact that the farmer at that time couldn't pay 
his taxea would have operated in the same way for a 
new buyer* Also, the people who were farming the 
landa at the time of delinquency were probably more 
familiar with there and better able to get a profit 
out of them than anybody else* 

Baumi So that you think that to have resold that land im 

mediately would have done nothing, even if you could 
have reaold it. 

Durbrowt I don't think it would have helped at all* 

Baumi I noticed that a proposed plan that Stephen Downey, 

Cowell, and Hankins drew up for the association in 
1932 suggested that delinquent landa could be re* 
deemed without penalty* 

Durbrowt I don't remember that plan* It was probably proposed 
as an emergency. 

Baurat What waa Stephen Downey* a association with..* 

Durbrowt Stephen Downey waa not connected so much with irri- 

gation diatricta aa he waa with reclamation districts. 
He waa a general attorney in Sacramento, a very able 


- . 

tq * 



: ' .i 





Durbrow: one. It was through his efforts very largely that 
Congress passed legislation to help out in the eon* 
trolling of the rivers through levees, 

Baumt Did he work with the association in refinancing prob 

Durbrow t No, not very much* Stephen Downey wasn't one of our 
attorneys* He very seldom appeared at meetings* 

Baumt I think he was an attorney for Merced. 

Durbrow Probably on sons particular matter. He didn't take 

a leading part at all in irrigation district matters} 
mostly in drainage and reclamation matters* 

Baumt This plan that Downey, Kankins, snd Cowell drew up 

also included en idea of limiting the assessment the 
district would charge to some amount that they would 
determine the land could pay. 

Durbrows Well, those were all ideas advanced at the time for 
working the farmer out of the depression* None of 
them were passed by the legislature. It was finally 
worked out through the Municipal Bankruptcy Act, 
where the R.P.C. in its Irrigation and Drainage 
Division, refinanced these districts through buying 
their depressed bonds. The bonds had gone down in 
value and they bought them at the depressed value. 








. . . 


, ; 


Durbrowt It all had to be don* under certain procedures* It 
had to go before the court a and the courta had to 
agree to it and alao the Districts Securities Con* 
mission had to agree to it* 

Baumi Did you personally feel that it was fair to reduce 

the bonds, to buy them in at this reduced price? Vat 
it fair to the bondholder? 

Durbrow: Yea, I think it was. The bondholder got a certain 

price, which was usually the market value at that time* 
Thia market value was due to the depressed value of 
the landa In the district. I think it ell worked out 
to the beat interests of moat of the bondholders even* 
tually. Everything was depressed at that time, of 
course. Land valuea were down, wages were down, 
everything waa down. 

Baum: In other words, you don't think the bondholders were 
any more depressed than anything elaef 

Durbrow s No, I think they got the same kind of a deal aa the 
rest of us got. 

Baumi I read in the association minutes a apeeeh by Senator 
Henderaon of the R.P.C. and he was pointing out that 
the amount of money that the R.P.C. agreed to loan on 
a district was baaed upon their appraisal of what the 
diatrict could pay. 

bst* sJ' 

804*. Mi : 


91 '. 









. . . 




rhxrbrow: That's right. Hot only the amount they could pay In 
the past, but whet eta appraisal of the district shoved 
they could pay at that tiros. Wagner was one of those 
appraisers hired by the Reconstruction Finance Cor* 
poretion to appraise the ability of the districts* 
Be was, of course, friendly to the districts and 
possibly there was some injustice to the bondholders, 
but I think very little* It was mostly a ease of 
finding out what could be done to males a district 
healthy and get back to operating conditions again* 

Baums Then you feel this was the basis of the loan, what 

the district would be able to pay? 

Durbrowj Yes, It was largely reflected in the market value of 
the bonds* 

Baum: I've heard people say that what they really did was 

Just estimate what the market value of the bonds was, 
and if it was 21^ on the dollar, that's what the 
R.F.C. loaned, even though the district might have 
been able to pay 70^ on the dollar. 

Durbrow: Well, that's a matter that really works out in buying 
and selling* What the bonds are really worth usually 
is a measure of the ability of the district to pay 
through land tax, water sales, or other means* 

Baumt I see. You think the big financial institutions had 



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Y.fflKj' Ovt 53l'-i-1i-l 


vt-!; U'-^cci i 

Baum: more or less appraised the situation themselves in 
what they offered for the bonds? 

Durbrow: I think very largely* Usually the bond houses who 

bid on the bonds originally were in close touch with 
the district and they had appraised already their 
ability to pay* If, In a purely agricultural district, 
the bonds want down in value it would be because the 

- , - 

priees of the things that the farmers raised were 

just not sufficient to give hia an income sufficient 

to operate and pay off the interest on this bonded < 


Z see* In 1935 Wagner was talking about the bond* 

holders, that they had been mainly cooperative, but 

there were these holdouts throughout the state.., 


I think 1935* when I read his apeech in the minutes 
of the association. I have a quote heres *But there 
are four or five individuals in the state who are 
prolific letter or postcard writers, who have done 


Durbrow s 

everything they could to block all this refinancing** 
Durbrow: That is true* There were people who objected to all 
refinancing* One of them was J Rupert Mason who 
represented a large lot of bonds that he himself owned 
or had sold. In a general way he represented then* 





;. : . - -,cc.i 


Durbrowt But that wasn't generally true of bondholders. Those 

people didn't gain anything by objecting to it. The 

thing vent through anyway* 

Baumi Did they alow down the refinancing very seriously? 

Durbrow: No, I don't think they did* It waa probably a good 

thing for them to have made the objection because it 

kept the thing honest* I think an opposition in any 

thing is good* 
Beam! You're probably right there* It might have gone too 

easy and the bonda might have gone too low if they 

hadn't been there* 
Durbrow t That 'a right* That's alwaya true* 

Delinquent Lends 

Baumt You say that you don't think the districts were re 

luctant to take over delinquent lands* When the 
three years were up they took itt 

Durbrow: I think generally they did* In some eases there waa 
no object in taking itf the owners just let it slide. 
No buyers anyway* But generally the lands were taken 
over and either sold or held by the district and some 
times rented or leased out by the district. 

Baumt If the district leased land* could they get as much 

as a rental for the land aa they could have gotten aa 
an assessment? 


* ' 











Durbrowt Sonetiraes they got e great deal more. I know of 
certain oases where the lands were good. For in* 
stance, Glenn-Coluse, there were good rice lands and 
the district rented those lands for rice end received 
very good income from them, which was more than the 
taxes they would have received. 

Baumt What would they do with land like that? Would they 

try to sell it to somebody? 

Durbrow: My idea always was that land taken for delinquent 

assessments should be resold whenever we found people 
who wanted to buy it* 

Baurct Even if it would have been wore profltsble for tbt 

district to hold it and lease itf 

Durbrow Oh yes* I think the duty of an irrigation district 
is not to operate land but to merely sell or deliver 
water to the lands of the district* Therefore, as 
soon as the proper buyer cones along I think the land 
should be sold back into private ownership* 

Baumt I believe there are some districts that still own a 

great deal of lend and lease it and they use the lease 
money to pay all the expenses of the district, so 
that the private owners are tax-free as far as irri 
gation district assessments* 

Durbrow: That is true in certain districts for certain reasons* 



ft& nc .: : 



1.-;' ' 







Durhrow: POP instance, down In the San J oaquin Valley certain 
districts had a limited supply of water and could 
supply only a certain amount of water for a certain 
amount of their lands* When they acquired lands 
through tax delinquencies* they didn't resell it be 
cause if they resold it, those people could come back 
and demand water and they didn't have the water to 
deliver to them. Some of those districts since that 
time have received water through contracts with the 
Reclamation Bureau, water that it developed in Shssts 
and Friant Reservoirs* Since they have obtained 
enough water by purchase, they have resold those lands* 
The district was able often to rent such owned lands 
when there would be wet years, when the district 
would have sufficient water to serve all its lends* 
Only in such years would they rent these lands that 
they owned* They were afraid to sell them because 
then they could demand water. So long a's they were 
short of weter in dry years they didn't want to sell 

BSUIK: I'm thinking of a district in the Sacramento Valley 

and I can't rem*rabr which district it is, but I be 
lieve they still hold a great deal of land, which 
pays all of the expenses of the district and which 






-IV 5> 


"< f,r: 



Baum: they have not resold simply because It is more pro 

fitable to lease it* I think the district is Reclama 
tion District 106. 

Durbrowt Yes, that is true as to Reclamation District 108* A 
few people own the land and are very prosperous be 
cause they own and rent this land which came to them 
when prices were depressed. 

Baum: But you think there are very few districts that have 

retained ownership of the land, except for very 
special reasons? 

Durbrowt I don*t think it's a proper thing for irrigation 
districts to retain lands when there is e private 
buyer who would buy the lands, pay assessments, and 
operate them. There must be certain conditions, such 
as if they're short of water end they have to retire 
such lands temporarily and operate them until they 
could get a better water supply. 

Baumt Yes. I believe some bondholders would feel thafc the 

districts should have kept the delinquent lands and 
gotten the higher rental in order to pay off the bond 
holders, rather than reselling them and getting a low 
er assessment out of then. But that, of course, would 
mean there wouldn't be private owners in the district. 

Durbrowt Irrigation districts are organized for supplying 








' ' 




Durbrowt water, not for operating land* 

Baumt Yea, you'd have to have a different social philosophy. 

Durbrows You'd have to have an entirely different social 

philosophy. You'd have really a socialized situa 

Beumi Yea. 

When the districts acquired theae lends and then 
later resold it, did they try to return it to the 
hands of the original owner when possible? 

Durbrowt That I can't tell you because I don't know those 

particular districts. There was only one ease I re 
member. It waa under a apeeial act. That was a 
district on the Colorado River above ImperialPalo 
Verde District. It defaulted on its bonda and it 
took over practically the whole district. I think 
the idea waa as far as possible to sell those lands 
back to the original holder. The district is now 

Baumt Is that legal, to re sail tax-delinquent lands to the 

original owner? 

Durbrowt Oh, you can aell to anybody. Nobody has a better 
right to buy it back than the original owner* 

Baumt In the case of the Nevada District, when you resold 

delinquent land, did you try to get it to the origi- 












Baumt nal owner or did new people buy it? 

Durbrowt The original owner would naturally here the first 

right. Any board of directors would rather sell the 
land back to the original owner than to somebody 
elae. But that was never a problem, as I remember. 
It was merely sold to whomever you could. Sometimes 
it was sold to somebody who subdivided and sold it 
off in smaller holdings. Seldom did the original 
owner have any interest in the land, but if they did, 
every opportunity was given them to recover their 


Assessments and Tolls 


Baumt Do you think the major part of the expense money 

of irrigation districts should be raised by assess* 
ments or water tolls? 

Durbrowt That is largely a matter of the situation and condi 
tions in the district. Some districts raiae practical 
ly everything by water tolls. Others, practically 
all by assessments. It's merely e matter of the 
situation and type of the district. In the case of 
our operation of the Nevada Irrigation District, it 
was my theory that the land should be taxed as low 
as possible for the reaaon that we only had a limited 












Durbrowi water supply and the dltchei of the district only 
covered a certain amount of the lands of the dis 
trict. Therefore, the assessment on those unim 
proved lands* the lands that did not have a water 
supply, should be kept as low as possible* The 
largest amount for the operation of the district 
should come from the land using water through water 
tolls. There was a certain justification in an 
assessment on unimproved and unused land that did 
not yet have a water supply* They had a potential 
interest in getting water* The land had an addi 
tional value because they were in an irrigation dis 
trict which at some time could serve them water. 
Therefore I think there was some justification in 
a small assessment on the land* 

Baumt What would you think of using Juat revenue for raising 
money, such as the sale of falling water or power? 

Durbrowi Well, if the situation of the district was favorable, 

it might be done by the sale of revenue bonds* Another 
thing the Irrigation Districts Association fathered 
was the right to issue revenue bonds in an irrigation 
district* Some districts have done so* In other 
words, they operate, for instance, a power plant. 

the bonds were sold on the basis that the income 








fiJt 4^C t$ 



, -^--VSr 

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Durbrow: from that power plant could be used for paying the 
bonds and that only* The bondholder would have to 
look to that particular property rather than to a 
general assessment for the payment* 

Baumt Do you think this ia a good way to finance certain 
developments in the district? 

Durbrowi It* a a very good way of doing it, if the thing you 

want to build, the power plant or water plant, ia of 

auffieient value and sufficient earning power ao that 

the bondholder ia convinced that the facility built 

will continue to earn enough to pay off his bonds. 

In that cese the revenue bond ia the beat bond you 

can get. 

From the bondholder's point of view? 

Bather from the district 'a point of view* Moat of 

our large bridges here have been built on revenue 

bonds aerviced and paid off by tolla. 

Do you think the assessments ahould be levied, as they 

are now, on the land value alone, or do you think they 

ahould include the improvements? 

Durbrow I No, I think the land value is a proper measure. I 
don't think the fact that a farmer haa improved hia 
land by putting up eoatly buildings ahould be used 
as a basis for assessments* 




Ctf- 'Waff :-.*Ii'CV. 



J V "" '.">"' J ' " 










Baumt Suppose a farmer puts In orchards or grapes or that 
type of improvement? Doesn't he pay a larger share 
then, if you charge him by water tolls? 

Durbrov: Of course, if he pays by water tolls he pays a larger 
amount than a man who uses leas water or none et all* 
But as to taxes he pays only the value of his land, 
not on hie improvement aueh an orchard* The mere 
fact that there is an orchard on the property showa 
that it will raiae that particular crop. 

Baumt It's a better piece of land. 

Durbrow: Yea. And therefore naturally it Is being taxed at 
a higher rate, being assessed at a higher value. 

Baurat Than his neighbor 1 a land next door. 

Durbrow: Than hia neighbor* a land, which may be just as good 
land, but it hasn't proved itaelf as euch. 

Baum: I see, so in effect the assessor may be influenced 
by the improvements such as orchards. 

Durbrow: Yea, by the fact that the value of the land has 
actually been proved* 

Distribution of Water 

Baum: What do you do in caae of a water shortage, if there's 

not enough water for the lands? 
Durbrow: Well, fundamentally the irrigation district law pro- 









; ' 'rl$. . 


Durbrowl vldes that water mast be served rateably ea to the 
assessment. In other words, a man with the same 
acreage as an adjoining piece and double the assess* 
ment, theoretically ought to get double the water* 
This has never worked out that way* The water has 
been distributed more or less rateably according to 
need, not according to the actual wording of the law. 

Baums Let's say, both men have rice* Does each -et, if the 
water is down one-half, they each just get water for 
one -half their acreage? 

Durbrows If the water became short they would have to plant 

half their acreage. Each one would usually get about 
the same amount of water. Soils differ end it would 
be difficult to be exact. 

Suppose one man haa orchards and his orchards would 
die if he didn't get water, and the other waa going 
to plant a temporary crop* 

Durbrows Veil, that haa been worked out aa a reasonable dis 
tribution usually and not according to the actual 
law. Any district would be interested in saving a 
permanent crop* 


Beuns What type of men become leadera in an irrigation dis 
trict, or is there any special type? 


. ~* . 

. y. rut 

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Durbrow: 1*11 say thia. I think one of the bad points in an 
irrigation district often is that the people who 
really should take an interest do not take a suffi 
cient interest* I think that 1 a true in all our politi 
cal institutions. We don't take enough interest in 


our own government* But I think some districts would 
be better operated if men who are efficient and of 
sound judgment would take a larger interest in the 
operation of their district* 

Baumt Are you saying that the larger landowners do not serve 
as officisls? 

Durbrows Very often they do not, because they are more inter 
ested in the operation of their own properties, and 
do not take an interest in the political affairs of 
the district, which I think is a mistake. 

Baums Then who does tske an interest? 

Durbrow: Very often the people who have nothing else to do* 

How, that isn't true in some of our olde'r snd better 
operated districts* I think our older districts do 
elect some of their best men to boards of directors 
and that's what they should do. But very often it 
is left to the small farmer or the improvident fellow 
who has become a politician in the district snd favors 
the election of a less qualified man* 


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BaumJ It would seem to be danger to the larger landowner 

in that the district might make policies that would be 
detrimental to him. 

Durbrov: I think they are often detrimental* I think it has 
proven so. That Is true of our cities as well aa 
our irrigation districts. Everybody should take an 
interest in the operation of the political institution 
in which he or she lives* 

Baums DO you think there ought to be some change in voting 
so that the larger landowner might have more votes 
and therefore have more influence? 

Durbrow: I would say this* If there were any way of foreing 
people to vote in selecting the people who are going 
to operate their institutions* it would be a good 
thing* But the trouble is, that would probably be 
considered against our fundamental freedom or consti 
tutional rights. 

Baum: You think the large landowner, even if he had, say, 
a vote per acre, he wouldn't use it anyhow, often? 

Durbrow: Well, he might* However, that has never been pro* 
posed for irrigation districts* It is the method 
used by the reclamation districts of the state in 
electing officials, and I think the same thing is 
true of the drainage districts. They vote by acreage, 

t9-wchnsx <**7rtftf 3d* s* i- 9C * crf **" '* 






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-ont .rsoo-' xov'sr 

Durbrowi but I doubt if it would be found that that method of 
voting creates better conditions than the democratic 
method of voting used in irrigation districts* 

Baum: Are district managers usually engineers? 

Durbrowi Most of then should be because there ere engineering 
problems come up all the time and while they may en- 
ploy engineers, they should have enough information 
about the engineering works to be able to properly 
direct engineers, 

Baums Then you think engineering is probably more important 
than having a man who is a specialist as a business 
man or an administrator? 

Durbrowj I think the two ere very necessary* X think the 

engineer who is engaged as a manager of a district 
should be a businessmen and he should have some idea 
of finance too* A very necessary point in favor of 
a manager is to be able to properly finance a dis- 


trict* There are always financial problems. 

Baum: It sounds like finding a good manager is pretty hard* 
DurbrowJ It is hard. I know it is hard because my son in the 
Irrigation Districts Association says the association 
has many requests to recommend men for managers of 
districts. They have to put out feelers to see who 

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CO:-' .1 


Durbrowi ere interested in becoming managers of a district* It 
isn't the easiest thing in the world to be a manager 
of a district. 

Baumi No. I should think Just the personal problems in* 
volved would be quite complex. 

Durbrowt The personal problems are often complex. There are 

business problems. There are also financial problems. 
I would describe a good manager for an irrigation 
district as an executive with some engineering and 
financial background and a good mixer to deal with 

the human problems involved. 

Transcriber: WB 
Typist! RJ, 

MH&Jtf> 3 '!.- n 

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Adama, Ernest 62, 63 

Aetna Insurance Co. 10-11 

Ant loch case 70*71 

Armour & Co. 2 

Assessments and water tolls 78-80, 115-116, 121-122. 

151-152, 195-198 

Ayers, Pred 138-139 

'.'?'> ! ' '' 

Bailey, Paul 177, 178 

Benicia, city of 2-3 

Blyth & Co. 157-158 

Bond Certification Commission 76, 167 

Bourn, William B. 100-101 
Bowman House llj.O-lIj.3, 1L9 

Buford Kindergarten Association 8 

Bull, Alpheus 6 

Byington case 50-51 

California Joint Federal-State Water 

Resources Commission 178-179 

Campbell, J. C. 89 

Carr, W. J. 179 

Central Canal Co. 71 

Central Valley Project 178 

Charlea Krug Winery 31, 33 




. . . 




Chicago Park colony 95 

Childers, Charles 163, 16? 

Christy, Samuel B. 18 

Church, Kate 96 

Consolidated Irrigation District 163 

Courtright, W, D. 130-131 
Cowell, A. L. 13$, 162, 167, rft, 185-186 

D'Egilbort, William 51, 66 

Dennett , L. L. 163 

Depresaion, Agricultural of 1920* 52-53, 56-61 

Dillon, Read & Co. 115 

Districts Securities Commission 182, 18? 

Downey, Stephen 185-186 

Downing, Paul 110 
Durbrow, Robert T. 26-2?, U?, 162, 166 

Eckert, Nelson 20 

Edraonston, Bob 178 
Empire Mine 100, 129, 132 

Etcheverry, B. A. 179 

Eureka Lakes & Tuba Consolidated Water Co* 6 

Excelsior Water & Power Co. 138 

Farm Bureau 96, 97, 99 




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Pood Adminis tret ion World War I 

Fresno Irrigation District 160, 162 

Garrison, J, 0* 179 

Gibson, Gion 75-76 

Gibson, California 76 

Glenn-Coluaa Irrigation District 66-8?, 88, 89, 93* 

11U, 136-137, 152, 159, 160, 163, 191 

Organization 66-69 

Antioch ease 70-71 

Sale of bonds 72-73 

Officials and employees 73*76 

Refinancing 76-78, 80-83 

Tolls & Assessments 78-80 

Annexation of Williams Irrigation District 8k-6$ 

Durbrow leaves district 85-87 

Goodwin, J. W. 

Gould & Curry Mine 6 

Grssser, Mr. 96-97 

Griffin, Pat 162, I6lj. 
Hankins, Homer 162-163, '167, 185-186 

Hankina, Judson 163, 167 

Hsnkins, S. J* 51, 66 

Harrell, Alfred 179 

Haskell, MeUen W. 16, 27 

Heller, Walter 11*2-143 

Henderson, Charles B* 12lj.-126, 187 



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Henry, George l0 

Harrington, George 157*158 

Hindus, in Glenn County 

Hoover, Herbert l\B, 5U-55 

Horton, Harry 167 

Hultman, 3. A. 159, 161 

Huntley, Earl V. 128 

Hyatt, Edward 178 

Imperial Irrigation District 110, 160, 163, 171 

Inglis, John 158 
Irrigation districts 

Consolidated 163 

Fresno 160, 162 

Glenn-Coluaa 66-87, 114, 136-137* 152, 

159, 160, 163, 191 

Imperial 110, 160, 163, 171 

Jacinto 66 

Maxwell 81). 

Merced . 162 

Modesto 110, 151-152, 169, 171 

Nevada 83, 92-158, 19^, 195 

Oakdale 162 

Palo Verde 19*1 

Provident 3lj. 

South San Joaquin 163, 169 

Table Mountain 39-1*1 

Turlock 110, 151-152, 160, 162, 169. 171 

Williams 81^-85 

Irrigation Districts Association 27, 75*76, 100, 

159-183, 202 

Early leaders 159-165 

Functions 166-172 





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ifsal Tsi 


PARTIAL IND8X (cont.) 

Irrigation Districts Association (cont.) 

Methods of raising money 172-176 

Participation in stats water problems 176-183 

Jaelnto Irrigation District 68 

r l l 

Jones* Jesse 12l*-126 

Kent, Russell 127 

Kepllnger, L. B. 115 

Krug, Karl 16, 31-33 
Kuhn, J. S. 

Kuhn, W. S. 

Lambert, Charles F. 67, 7k 88, 160-161 

Lays Beds Dredging Co. 32 

Law, Charles T 151; 

Laws on, Andrew 17 

LeConte, Joseph 17 

''. JJ-* 1X2, 

Livingston, John A. , 135 

Marshall Plsn 176-177 
Mason, J. Rupert 119, 135-136, 157, 189 

Mathews, V. B. 179 

Matthew, Raymond 7k 9 161 

Maxwell Irrigation District 81). 

Meek, B. B* 179 

Merced Irrigation District 162 



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Mcrritt, Ralph U8-U9, 62 

Miller, Fred 113 

Mills, Jaaes Ij8, 86 

Modesto Irrigation District 110, 151-152, 169, 171 

Moffitt, J. K. 33, fc3 

Mondavi & Sons 33 

Mosher, A. L. 96 

Moon, Myrl B. 6?, 68 

Mountain Copper Co,, Ltd* 27 -28, 30, 31 

Huleahy vs. Baldwin ease 120 

Mulcahy, Thonaa 15M. 55 156 

Municipal Bankruptcy Act 80, 123, 136-137* 186 

Nevada Irrigation District 83, 92-158, 19^, 195 

Organization 92-100 

Purchases and construction 100-106 

Relationa with P. G. & E. 106-112, llj.8-150 

Durbrow becomes manager , 113*134 
Refinancing 124-120, 12>128, lij.8-150 

Purchaae of Seotts Plat lands 133-llj.O, Iii3li4 

Bowman House 1^0-1^3 

Land delinquencies 114j.-llj.8 

Assessment policies 151-152 

Officials and employees 153*158 

Nevada Irrigation Dlatrict Water Users Assoc. 93 

Newmont Mining Co. 129, 131-132 

Oakdale Irrigation District 162 

Connor, Joe C. 96 



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Olney, W 8 rren, Jr. 179 

Olympic Club 7 

One -hundred -sixty acre limitation 169*171 

Oro Eleetrie Corporation 35, 38, lj.3 

Oro Water, Light & Power Co. 33-Wi, 109 

Oroville Light & Power Co. 32-31} 

Oroville Water Co. 32-3U 

Orrick, Palmer fc Dahlquiat, attorney* 113 

Orrick, W. H. 111^, 157 

0Shaughnesay, M. M. 102-103 

Pacific Electric & Development Co. 106-108 

Pacific Oaa & Electric Co. ll|, 314.. 38, , 

9U-95* 97, 98, 101-102. 
106-113, 115, 116, 120*121, ll;3, 348-150 

Pacific Kail Steamship Co. 2 

Palermo Water Co. I|.0 

Palo Verde Irrigation Diatrict 19fc 

Pardee, George C. 179 

Parrott & Co. Bank 3 

Provident Irrigation District 8i| 

Quint on, Code, Hill -Leeds Ss Barnard 116 
Railroad Commission 37*38, 50, 179 

Ralston, A. J. 12 






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Raymond, William 16, 18 

Reclamation Bureau 97. 112, 168-170, 192 

Reclamation District 108 193 

Reclamation District 20lrf 61-62, 88-91 

Reconstruction Finance Corporation 80-61, 123-12? . 133 . 

137, 165* 173-17k, 182, 186, 187-188 

Rice Growers Association 62-6f> 

Riparian rights 181-182 

Rialng, Willard Bradley 16-17 

Robs on, Kernan 128 

Roosevelt, Franklin D. J>6-7 

Sacramento, city of 111-112 

Sacramento Valley Veat Side Canal Co. 1*9-51, 66, 

67-68, 72 

San Francisco, city of 12-13* 100-101, 111 

Schramm, Emil 12l|., 133 

Scotts Flat Dam 138, 'litf-ll&, 349 

Seerls, Fred 128, 129-132 

Searla, Robert M. 128 

Selby Smelting & Lead Co. 11-12, 28, 32 

Shaffer, W. H. 163 

Shaw, Arvin D. 173 


Slate, Frederick 18 

South San Joaquin Irrigation District 163, 169 


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Spring Valley Water Co. 3, 13, 100-101 

Steinegal, C. E. 159 

Stevenot, Pred & 128, 131; 

Stewart, A. 0. 128 

Superior California Land Company 50-51, 67-68, 74 

Table Mountain Irrigation District 39-41 

Taooma Smelting Co, 28 

Tarpey, Mike P. 162, 164 
Tax-delinquent land 80, 85, 11*4-147 184-185, 190-195 

Taylor, Earl 96 


Taylor, Edward Robaon 12-13 

Teagarden, J. A. i^ 


Thonaa, Doyle 92 

Tibbetta, Pred H, 69-70, 7k 98-99, 102-103 

Treadwell, Edward 118-119, 135 

Turlok Irrigation Diatriet 110, 151-152, 160* 

162, 169, 171 

Tyrell, J. C. 96 

University of California li;-23 

Varney, Porreat 153 

W.P.A. 138-1I|1. 

Wagner, Walter D. 162, 164-165, 168, 171, 

172, 174-176, 182, 188-189 





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Weymouth, Prank C. 179 

Williams Irrigation District 8i}-8 

Wiaker, A* L. 95-98, 100-101, 10l*-105, 106-108, 113 

Wisler, L. 0. . 1^6-157 

Worrell, Margie 165 

Yubs-Nevada-Sutter Water & Power Aaaoe. 96-97 

Zunwalt, I. a. 89-91