The completion of the Salem Canal in 1869 brought irrigation water from the Spanish Fork River to Salem. Lyman Curtis, who had experience with irrigation in Santa Clara, directed the project to completion. The canal was eight miles long and took two and one-half years to build. Additional water was brought to the area by the Strawberry Valley Irrigation Project, completed in 1916.
Popular crops were wheat and other grains, as well as tomatoes and peas for the Del Monte food-processing plant, located between Salem and Spanish Fork. Beginning in 1891, sugar beets were grown extensively for the factories throughout Utah Valley. A "beet vacation" allowed boys out of school to assist in harvesting. Many farmers specialized in growing garden produce or in raising poultry. Local ranchers had grazing rights and permits in the nearby national forests, in Strawberry Valley, and in privately owned property in Loafer Canyon.
In the nineteenth century blacksmithing was a much needed service, and there also were immigrants skilled in masonry, milling, and cobblery. Sawmills and shingle mills, molasses producing factories, creameries, and confectioneries have supported families and provided for community needs.