of Duchesne County is unique in Utah history, for unlike much of the
state, it did not occur under the direction of Brigham Young or the Mormon church. Rather, it was settled by individuals who obtained 160
acres under the federal Homestead Act. Homesteaders were required to
prove that they intended to farm the land. After five years of living
on the land, making improvements, and paying $1.25 per acre homesteaders
were given title to their homesteads.
As was the case
in other areas of the state, farmers of the county needed water. The
Dry Gulch Irrigation Company was incorporated in 1905 by William H.
Smart and Reuben S. Collett to aid farmers in securing water rights
from the state and to help them divert water onto their lands from the
many streams flowing through the county. Other irrigation companies
were also organized. Some were successful, others were not. Homesteaders
on Blue Bench, located just north of Duchesne City, organized the Blue
Bench Irrigation Company. With financial support from wealthy Jesse
Knight of Provo, heroic efforts were made over several decades to divert
water from the Duchesne River to farmsteads on Blue Bench. This gallant
effort ended in failure for the farmers and financial disaster for Knight.