Irrigation Experiment Station Records 1910-1979
Archives 200

Summary Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
Irrigation Experiment Station Records
Archives 200
Date [inclusive]
General Physical Description note
59.5 linear feet  60 containers
Contains annual reports; field notes, research records, and research reports; general correspondence collected by the station superintendent and others in one or more separate filing systems.

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Organizational History:

Yakima Valley State Representative Ina P. Williams introduced legislation to create the Irrigation Experiment Station on March 13, 1917. The station was to be operated by the College of Agriculture of the State College of Washington. In early 1919, the station was established in Benton County, north of the Sunnyside Canal near Prosser, Washington.

In its first year IES employed 115 men and women, almost all of whom were day laborers. The first superintendent was Roy P. Bean, an animal scientist working in Dairy and Animal Husbandry, who was appointed on May 1, 1919. Irrigation water reached the fields on May 24, 1919, and potatoes, corn, and millet soon began growing as the station's first crops. In 1923 IES added two strawloft poultry houses with a capacity for 250 hens each. The swine herd was started during 1921 with the purchase of five Duroc-Jersey sows. Cattle came to the station in 1922 when IES bought seven Holstein heifers. In 1924 twenty Lincoln-Merino ewes were purchased from two Prosser citizens.

The experiment station went on to produce large crops and herds in order to fully research the needs of agriculturalists in the state. Its goals included øøgiving attention first to the production of crops under irrigation; second, to the principles and practices involved in the proper use of irrigation water; third, to the disposal of pasture and home grown feed by pasturing dairy cattle and hogs and by feeding sheep, beef cattle and poultry; fourth, to horticultural problems with special reference to tree fruits and potatoes." (Director's Statement, 33rd Annual Report, Washington Agricultural Experiment Station, pp. 5-6.)

On July 11, 1929, Roy Bean was killed by a dairy bull. øøHe had been connected with the station since its establishment and under his supervision two-hundred acres of typical sagebrush land was developed into a well-planned experiment station, rendering effective service to irrigation agriculture," stated the IES Annual Report for that year. Harold P. Singleton succeeded Bean as Superintendent of IES.

The Washington State legislature halved IES's appropriation during the depression and reduced its staff. Some of the livestock had to be sold and salaries and wages were reduced by twenty percent. Although many thought the station faced closure, Governor Clarence D. Martin assigned it an additional $8000 from his emergency fund. Economic conditions improved starting in 1935 and as they did IES added more staff, faculty, and programs. C. Emil Nelson started work in the new plant pathology section, specifically with plant diseases. In 1942 J.D. Menzies became the first designated Plant Pathologist.

In 1937 the station began to produce hybrid corn seed for sale to farmers. Doing so had required the addition of new facilities for drying, shelling, and storage. Eventually the corn seed program supplied corn for all the farmers in the Yakima Valley.

Along with the Washington Agricultural Experiment Station at Pullman and the Washington State Penitentiary at Walla Walla, IES began experimenting with vegetable crop varieties, fertilizer use, and management practices. The project, led by Walter Clore, lasted eight years. AES supplied guard salaries, the penitentiary supervised laborers and guards, and IES supervised field operations and record keeping.

From 1939 to 1945 the station also conducted research on processing adaptability studies of fruits and vegetables. In 1940 this research included work involving processing by freezing. In 1951 the whole processing laboratory transferred from Pullman to Prosser, along with its staff, Dr. A.M. Neubert and George Carter. The program moved again in 1965 to the Western Washington Research and Extension Center.

After the war the Bureau of Reclamation began operating pre-development farm units in the Columbia Basin for crop trials, later were called "Development Farms." The U.S.D.A. and IES worked with the Bureau of Reclamation on these units, concentrating mainly upon horticulture for small fruits and vegetables; they later also researched erosion control and irrigation. Both H.P. Singleton and J.D. Menzies worked as directors of these units.

A greenhouse facility, long sought after for research purposes, was finally added in 1946 and is still in use today at the Prosser station. In 1945 the Poultry Disease Committee suggested that the station establish a diagnostic laboratory to research diseases in poultry. Three years later a laboratory was functioning, but only lasted until 1952 when no veterinarians could be found to fill the researcher position.

Staff increases were common well into the sixties at every level and unit. Programs were also added, including programs in hops research; Aides Programs; fruit breeding; fruitfly control; outlying testing; irrigation engineering; virus diseases; breeding, diseases, and cultural practices with process peas; cherry fruitfly control; and, potato breeding. The results of such programs were regularly shown to area and state farmers at Feeders Days, Field Days, and Special Exhibits Days at Prosser Station.

The Interregional Research Project (IR-2), following years of planning, began operation on July 1, 1955. The project aimed to "assemble desirable clones of deciduous fruit trees, verify their virus freedom, maintain these clones in an isolated repository and distribute propagating materials to scientists or regulatory officials for research or for release to industry." The group would also conduct research and thermotherapy. Funds were provided by the U.S.D.A. and the Prosser station was the national headquarters. Begun on August 1, 1955, the unit soon became the national leader in research on detection and behavior of viral diseases among fruit trees.

Forage seed research produced three new projects, as well: Environmental Effects on the Genetic Stability of Forage Crops Seeds; Cultural and Management Practices in Forage Legume Seed Production with Alfalfa and Red Clover; and, Physiology of Seed Production in Forage Legumes with Alfalfa and Red Clover.

Still other new programs at the station were the Nematology Program and the Potato Disease Program, unique in that it was the only such project wherein the growers provided all the funding for the employment of faculty and non-faculty personnel. The station also did research in green beans and pears.

Dean L.L. Madsen, of the WSU College of Agriculture, C.A. Svinth, Director of Washington Agricultural Extension Service, and Mark T. Buchanan, Director of Washington Agricutural Experiment Station, determined in 1960 that the Irrigation Extension Service Center for Irrigation should be based in Prosser, too.

By 1988 the Superintendent of the station was Lindsey Faulkner. The main research areas continued to be Irrigation, Horticulture, and Plant Pathology.

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Arrangement note

The records of the Irrigation Experiment Station are arranged in three series: Annual Reports; Research Documents; and, General Correspondence. The first series contains annual reports filed chronologically and alphabetically by title. The second series contains field notes, research records, and research reports. These are filed chronologically and alphabetically by title. Also included are special project reports filed numerically. The third series consists of general correspondence collected by the station superintendent and others in one or more separate filing systems. Due to the general disarray of the files upon arrangement they have been re-organized in chronological and alphabetical order according to title. Annual and research reports in this series are draft copies. Files which had no date were filed at the end of the series. Also placed at the end of this series is a complete files list for all three series.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
Terrell Library
P.O. Box 645610
Pullman, WA, 99164-5610

Conditions Governing Access note

The Collection is open for research use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Records of the Irrigation Experiment Station at Prosser, Washington, were transferred to Washington State University Libraries in 1978 and 1981 (UA78-19 and UA81-03).

Processing Information note

The records were processed by Harvey Young and Patricia M. Hall from 1987 to 1988.

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

Some earlier records of the Irrigation Experiment Station are maintained by the WSU Libraries as University Archives 76. These records are chiefly reports sent to the State College at Pullman.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • State College of Washington. Irrigation Branch Experiment Station--Archives
  • Washington State University. Agriculture Research and Experiment Center (Prosser)--Archives
  • Washington State University. Agriculture Research and Experiment Center (Prosser)--Records and correspondence
  • Washington State University. Irrigation Experiment Station (Prosser)

Geographic Name(s)

  • Prosser (Wash.)--Agricultural experiment station


  • Agricultural experiment stations--Washington (State)--Research--Archival resources
  • Agriculture
  • Agriculture--Experimentation--Archival resources
  • Agriculture--History--Archival resources
  • Colleges and Universities
  • Irrigation
  • Irrigation farming--Research--Archival resources
  • Livestock--Research--Archival resources
  • Washington (State)

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General note

The following list is not a complete list of all folder titles; such a list would be so large as to be unwieldy. The list is basically a box-by-box list that specifies the first and last folders within that container. Generally this terse presentation should not be a problem for the user because the records consist chiefly of materials arranged by order of date or of alphabetical subject files. Thus, the user can generally deduce the location of a folder of correspondence or a report, provided, of course, the user has the name of a correspondent or the date of a report available from another source.

If a complete list of folder title is desired, the user is advised to consult the last folder in the records. This folder contains a handwritten document, used internally when arranging these records; it lists almost every folder in the entire body of records.

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Collection Inventory

Annual Reports: 

Box Folder

Annual Reports 1936-1951 

1 1-45


2 46-66


3 67-88.01


3a 88.02-88.20


3b 88.21-91.02


4 92-114

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Research Documents: 

Box Folder

Field Notes 1924-1951 

4 115-124

General Reports 

5 125-126

General Research 1955-1976 

5 127-128

Research Records: W. O. Pruitt 1949-1953 

5 129-142

Research Records (Legal Size) 1954-1957 

6 142.01-.05

Research Records: W. O. Pruitt 1949-1953 

7 143-178

Research Records: "Officials Records of the Interregional Research Project, IR-2," 1955-1976 

7 179

Research Reports 1952-1960 

7 180-188

Research Reports 1922-1975 

8 189-283

Research Reports 1924-1969 

9 284-343

Research Reports 1938-1974 

10 344-413

Specific Projects, Project 1205 1950-1960 

10 414-427

Project 1732 1961-1965 

10 428-435

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General Correspondence: 

Box Folder

Project Outlines 1910, 1915, 1919 -- Correspondence "A-B," 1925 

11 436-474

Alkali Soils 1925 -- Correspondence "I," 1929-1930 

12 474.01-515

Edward C. Johnson, 1929 -- Horticulture, 1932 

13 516-583

Edward C. Johnson 1932 -- Edward C. Johnson, 1935 

14 584-642

Research 1935-1965 -- Horticulture Department, 1937 

15 643-717

Correspondence "I," 1937 -- Irrigation Experiment Station, 1938-1940 

16 718-801

Correspondence "J," 1938 -- Correspondence "G," 1939 

17 802-888

Correspondence "H," 1939 -- Correspondence "Z," 1939 

18 889-957

Correspondence "A," 1940 -- Returned Seed Corn Questionaire, 1940 

19 958-1023

Rough Draft of Report to Dean Johnson 1940 -- Government Publications Ordered, 1941 

20 1024-1086

President E.O. Holland 1941 -- Correspondence "Z," 1941 

21 1087-1168

Correspondence "A," 1942 -- Edward C. Johnson and E.V. Ellington, 1942 

22 1169-1229

Correspondence "K," 1942 -- Yakima Fruit Growers Association 

23 1230-1300

Correspondence "A," 1943 -- E.L. Overholser, 1943 

24 1301-1375

Correspondence "P," 1943 -- Gas Rationing Reports, 1944 

25 1376-1459

Correspondence "H," 1944 -- Yakima Fruit Growers Association, 1944 

26 1460-1527

Correspondence "A," 1945 -- J.D. Menzies, 1945 

27 1528-1601

Missouri River Basin 1945 -- Columbia Basin Interagency Committee Meeting Minutes, 1946 

28 1602-1660

County Extension Service 1946 -- Correspondence "X, Y, Z," 1946 

29 1661-1745

Correspondence "A," 1947 -- Library, 1947 

30 1746-1828

Correspondence "M-Mc," 1947 -- Correspondence "Z," 1947 

31 1829-1905

Correspondence "A," 1948 -- Quarterly Report, 1948 

32 1906-1992

Correspondence "R," 1948 -- Correspondence, 1949 

33 1993-2063

Correspondence "D," 1949 -- Correspondence, "Z," 1949 

34 2064-2174

Administration 1950 -- Experiment Station, 1950 

35 2175-2227

Experiment Station 1950 -- Correspondence "Z," 1950 

36 2228-2312

Correspondence "A," 1951 -- Irrigation Research, College and Bureau of Reclamation, 1951 

37 2313-2366

Correspondence "J," 1951 -- Leonard Young, 1951 

38 2367-2418

Correspondence "A," 1952 -- Correspondence "L," 1952 

39 2419-2467

"Land Ownership ad Major Land Use--Columbia River Basin Area," 1952 -- Leonard Young, 1952 

40 2468-2515

Correspondence "A," 1953 -- Correspondence "R," 1953 

41 2516-2573

Correspondence "S," 1953 -- J.C. Knott, 1954 

42 2574-2638

Correspondence "L," 1954 -- Leonard Young, Assistant to the Director, 1954 

43 2639-2677

Correspondence "A," 1955 -- Leonard Young, Assistant to the Director, 1955 

44 2678-2749

Correspondence "A-B," 1956 -- Crops Research, 1957 

45 2750-2824

Correspondence "D-E," 1957 -- Animal Science, 1958 

46 2825-2902

Annual Research Report, Parts I and II 1958 -- Aides Seminar, 1959 

47 2903-2968

Animal Science 1959 -- Weeds, 1959 

48 2969-3035

Agricultural Chemistry 1960 -- Wind, 1960-1962 

49 3036-3089

Central Committee WSU Agricultural Advisory Board 1961 -- Irrigated Agriculture Research Center, Health Research Facilities Grant, 1961 

50 3090-3137

Seminar 1961 -- Wind Erosion, includes Photographs, 1962 

51 3138-3196

Agricultural Engineering 1963 -- Wind Erosion, 1963 

52 3197-3243

Agricultural Engineering 1964 -- Land Use, 1965 

53 3244-3327

Louis L. Madsen 1965 -- Hops Commission, 1966 

54 3328-3397

Horticulture 1966 -- Superintendent's Meetings, 1966 

55 3398-3461

Margin of Excellence, 1966 --Robert Kunkel 1968 

56 3462-3529

Land Allocation 1969 -- Correspondence, 1979 

57 3530-3600

"Alfalfa Production Under Irrigation," by H.P. Singleton -- Works Progress Administration, Extension n.d. 

58 3601-3631

Complete Files List 1988 

58 3632

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