The Auburn Water Company

By the middle of the summer of 1862 it had become apparent to all who had business interests at stake in and about Auburn, that more water must be procured with which to work the mines. There was some talk of a ditch being made to bring water from Powder River, but it does not appear that anything definite was ever done in regard to the matter. The first talk about ditch making on an extensive scale which led to positive results, appears to have been a conversation on the subject between Ira Ward of Griffin's gulch and Wm. H. Packwood of Auburn in the latter part of July or first of August. A. C. Goodrich, who had been surveyor and superintendent of construction on the Big Oak Flat ditch in California arrived in Griffin's gulch in July and made the acquaintance of Mr. Ward, and the very first suggestion in regard to a ditch may have been made by him, but whether it was or not, it is certain that Mr. Packwood was the first to put the matter in business shape.

     Knowing that the first thing necessary in undertaking an enterprise is to ascertain if it is practicable. Mr. Goodrich was engaged to run a preliminary survey around on the valley side of the mountains, crossing Salmon creek, Marble creek, Mill creek and on to Pine creek. Mr. Goodrich, accompanied by Mr. Ward set out on the expedition and in three week accomplished the work, and made a favorable report, and there upon Mr. Packwood called upon those who were interested in the enterprise, to meet and organize a company to prosecute the work. The importance of the enterprise then inaugurated could not have been anticipated by its projectors. The assistance it was destined to render in the permanent settlement and development of the country could not have been for seen. A history of Baker County would be far from complete if it contained but a meager account of the operations of the Auburn Water Company during the fall and winter of 1862-63. A correct estimate of the value of the enterprise to the country at that time, could not be made by merely reckoning the amount of money expended directly in the construction of the ditch. The beneficial effect which that expenditure had on the business prospects of the community, in an indirect pay, was far greater in magnitude. How many men were inspired with confidence and stimulated to exertion by the example of the Water Company cannot be estimated, nor can the number of those be known who were enabled to remain in the country by reason of the work of ditch construction being done at that time. Only a portion of the mining ground in and about Auburn could have been worked, and that portion could have had but a small supply of water for, a limited time in the spring and early summer. Without that ditch, Auburn as it was in 1863-4-5 and 6 would never have been; nine tenths of the people would have had to seek employment elsewhere; the farmers in the valley who were struggling to make their business a success would not have had the aid of the Auburn market, and that alone would have been no slight loss, for a market for garden vegetables was a matter of prime necessity to many of them Besides the great assistance all kinds of business received indirectly from the outlay of the company, the more immediate effects were still greater in importance.

     In the fall of 1862, thousands of immigrants came to the country, and many of them were dependent upon their daily labor for subsistence. But very few of them could have found employment had it not been for the opportunity offered by the Water Company and by individuals who were led to build houses and engage in business through hopes for the future which the company's enterprise had inspired. The number of people in and about Auburn in the fall and fore part of the winter is estimated at five or six thousand. Probably not one half of them had supplies for the winter nor the means of obtaining them, and, leaving the work of ditch construction out of the count, there could have been no inducement for merchants to bring in the amount of goods which the necessities of the people required. The systematic way in which the company organized for the work, and the energy with which it was prosecuted in the face of all the difficulties in the way, are worthy of admiration.

     The constitution and by-laws adopted by the company would serve for a model in the organization of similar associations. As above stated when Goodrich reported favorably after running the preliminary survey, Mr. Packwood called a meeting of those who proposed to engage in the enterprise, and the following constitution and bylaws were adopted.
August 30th, A. D., 1862, Auburn Or.

     In order to form a company or corporation for the purpose of procuring water for mining, mechanical and other purposes, for the town of Auburn and vicinity, Wasco County, Oregon.

We, the undersigned do adopt the following Constitution and Bylaws for our government and rule of action.

Article 1.
The name of this association shall be the Auburn Water Company.

Article 2.
The office and place of business for the company shall be in the town of Auburn.

Article 3.
The capital stock of the company shall be fifty thousand dollars, to consist of one hundred shares of five hundred dollars each.

Article 4.
Each share shall be entitled to one vote, all votes shall be in person or by proxy duly authorized by the shareholder, and the number of shares represented in voting shall be endorsed on the back of each ballot, which shall be open.

Article 5.
The officers of the company shall consist of a board of three trustees, one secretary, one treasurer, and one superintendent, all of whom shall be elected by the stock holders of and be stockholders in said company. The board of trustees in said company shall elect one of their number at a meeting to be held annually for that purpose, president of the company. All officers elected shall serve for the term of one year, unless removed from office or otherwise disqualified.

Article 6
The first election of officers shall be holden at the office of the company on this 30th day of August, A. D., 1862 and annually thereafter on the same day-except when that day may be on Sunday. In that case on the Monday following.

Article 7.
This constitution may be altered or amended at any regular annual meeting of the stockholders.

By Laws
Section 1. The board of trustees shall have the entire charge of all the business transactions of the company; shall make provisions for the commencement, carrying on and completion of the work, for the disposition and distribution of the water introduced; shall provide for the annual meeting of the stockholders; for the election of officers and transaction of other business, and shall have power to call special meetings of the stockholders whenever they may deem necessary; shall have the power to employ agents of the company and fix the compensation of all the officers and employees of the company, and shall hold their meetings at the office of the company as often as once a week until the completion of the work.

Article 2.
The president shall preside at all the meetings of the board of trustees and stockholders of the company, and shall sign all checks, drafts, notes, certificates of stock, and all other written instruments of the company, and shall have power to call special meetings of the board of trustees whenever he may deem necessary, and to attend to any other business of the company which may be required of him by the board of trustees. In absence of the president one of the trustees shall act as president pro tem.

Sec. 3. The 'secretary shall keep the books and accounts of the company, shall have his books at all times written up in a good and business like style, shall fill out and sign all checks and drafts, notes certificates of stock, and all other written instruments of the company, shall attend to all the meetings of the board of trustees and keep a true and correct record of all their proceedings, and shall make a report to the board of trustees as often as once: a month, which report shall contain an account of all the receipts, expenditures and disbursements of the company, and shall, at the end of each year or the expiration of his term of office, make a general report of the receipts, expenditures and business transactions of the company for the entire years, and shall attend to all the duties incident or appertaining to the office of secretary.

Article 4.
The treasurer shall receive and safely keep all the money and other valuables of the company and shall receipt for the same, and pay out the same on the check or draft of the president and secretary; shall keep a book in which he shall charge himself with all the money and valuables received by him, and credit himself the amount of money paid out; shall enter into a bond with good and sufficient sureties, to be approved by the board, to safely keep and pay said funds in accordance with the provisions of this Article or the written directions of the board of trustees, and for the faithful performance of his duties as treasurer; shall keep his books posted up and subject to the inspection of the president and secretary, board of trustees and stockholders, and shall make a report at the end of each month of the amount of moneys and other valuables received by him, and an annual report of the entire receipts, expenditures and disbursements for the year.

Article 5.
The superintendent shall have, under the direction of the board of trustees, charge and control the entire work of the company; shall have power to choose his own assistants and to discharge hands; to lay out and direct the construction of the work; to let contracts and receive all work from the contractors and give his certificate for the same, and shall report to the board of trustees from time to time, of the state and progress of the work, the material required, and all the transactions under his authority and in his department, and shall attend to any and all of the business of the company incident to or appearing to the office of superintendent, whether enumerated in this article or not.
Appended to the Constitution and By-Laws were seven Articles under the head of General Provisions, Article 1, making it the duty of the board of trustees to levy assessments on the capital stock from time to time as the necessity for funds might require.

Article 2 provided for the forfeiture of stock in case of non-payment of assessment, with reserved privilege to the delinquent of redeeming forfeited stock at any time within sixty days.

Article 3 made provisions for the removal of any officer for just and reasonable cause,

Article 4 pledged the company to a faithful prosecutions of the work.

Article 5 makes it the duty of the board of trustees to organize immediately after the election, and determine upon a plan for the commencement of the work.

Article 6 makes provisions for amending the By-Laws, and

Article 7 reads: Resolved, That we adopt the foregoing Constitution and By Laws for our government and rule of action, and proceed to organize ourselves into a company for the purposes stated in the preamble to the foregoing Constitution and By-laws.
In testimony whereof we hereunto set our hands and seals on this 30th day of August, A. D., 1862.
Done at Auburn, Wasco Co., Or.

G. H. Abbott, W. H. Packwood
Henry Fuller, A. C. Goodrich
J. J. Williams, George Berry
Ira Ward Isaac Smith
Benjamin Chateau

     The above named stockholders immediately after signing the Constitution organized temporarily, by appointing Henry Fuller chairman and W. H. Packwood secretary, and effected a permanent organization by electing Henry Fuller, Ira Ward and G. H. Abbott, trustees, W. H. Packwood, secretary, J. J. Williams, treasurer and A. C. Goodrich, superintendent. The meeting of stockholders then adjourned sine die, and the trustees met and organized by electing Henry Fuller, president. The secretary was authorized to procure the necessary books and stationery for use of the company, and instructed to keep open books for the purpose of securing additional subscriptions to the capital stock of the company; also to draft a petition to the legislature asking for the charter for the company, and directing him to have the Constitution and By-Laws recorded at the county seat of Wasco County, The meeting then adjourned until Tuesday, Sept. 2.

     At the meeting Tuesday, September 2, the salary of the superintendent was fixed at one thousand eight hundred dollars per annum, the secretary and treasurer were each allowed one thousand dollars per annum, the president the same, and the trustees - not including the president - four hundred dollars each, per annum, all salaries to be paid quarterly. On motion of Mr. Abbott, Mr. Ward was allowed five hundred dollars for surveying and securing water rights for the company.

     The superintendent was directed to let contracts for the construction of seven miles from the point of commencement to Salmon creek, to be finished by the 20th of September. It was ordered that the size of the ditch should be four feet wide at the bottom, slope nine inches to the foot, depth two feet. At the same meeting an order was issued to procure tools and materials for immediate use and also to have a house built on the line of the ditch for the superintendent's office.

     At trustees meeting September 6th, the superintendent was directed to let contracts on an agreement to pay fifty percent of the amount due on the completion of one fourth of the contract and the same percent on the next one fourth, &c.
     At a meeting of trustees, October 20th, the superintendent submitted a report of the work up to date, and tendered his resignation, and without action on the subject, they adjourned until the next evening.

At the meeting on the 21st it was ordered that J. L. Neyman be paid one hundred dollars as additional compensation to him for work done by him on contract No. 9, at six dollars per rod, which shows that the company was disposed to deal liberally with contractors. At the same meeting an assessment of thirty-three and one third percent on the capital stock previously levied by the secretary, was confirmed, and another assessment of fifteen percent was ordered.

     At a meeting November 4th, the trustees declined to accept the resignation of the superintendent, Mr. Goodrich, and on motion of Mr. Abbott his salary was raised to three thousand six hundred dollars per annum. The superintendent was directed to survey and locate, as soon as practicable, the line ditch from first replenish (Salmon) creek to second replenish (Marble) creek, and submit report of same to the board.

On November 11th, an assessment of thirty-three and one third percent was levied on the capital stock yet uncalled for, and I. W. Knight was appointed general agent for the company.

     At a meeting November 15th, the trustees allowed Steel & Co.; two hundred dollars extra pay for contract work on sections No. 3 and 4, to be paid out of the first earnings of the ditch not otherwise appropriated.

     At a special meeting of the stockholders November 17th, it was ordered that the following letter be sent to Crane, Esq., in reply to a proposition of his to purchase the Ditch of the Auburn Water Company.
Crane Esq.

Dear Sir: In compliance with your request we herewith state the terns on which we propose to make sale of the property known as the Auburn Water Company's water ditch, including the water rights, Privileges and all other appurtenances thereunto belonging together certain tools, necessary to complete the work on said ditch.

     We will sell, convey and quit-claim, make to thirty-six shares in Water Company's ditch for twenty-five percent premium upon the costs of constructing said water ditch, and upon all expense that are incurred or may be incurred by said company in the prosecution of and completion of said water ditch as may be contracted for at the time.

     There are eight shares which we have no right to dispose of, but we may have every reason to believe will be sold on the same terms as above proposed in the sale of thirty-six shares.

We are of opinion that the entire cost of constructing said water ditch when finished as far as contracted for, will not exceed the sum of nineteen thousand dollars.

     This, however, is only an approximate estimate based on the facts and figures at our command, which of necessity must be incomplete, and can only be obtained correctly (the exact cost of the ditch) on the completion of the work now under contract.

     All orders and allowances that may have been made, or that may be necessary to be made in order to compensate and pay contractors and others for labor performed on the ditch to be confirmed and compiled by the purchaser. The water ditch to be prosecuted to completion in time to be ready for use and running water early next spring. The sum of twelve thousand dollars to be paid in hand on delivery of a bond for a deed given, and the balance on the completion of the work now under contract and the entire cost ascertained and the delivery of the deed in full possession of the ditch.

Signed: Henry Fuller,
G. H. Abbott,
W. H. Packwood,
A. C. Goodrich,
J. J. Elmore,
J. Jones,
J. J. Williams.

     At a meeting of the trustees, January 17th, 1863, the secretary was directed to levy an assessment on the stockholders sufficient to pay all outstanding claims against the company. The total expense on ditch at that date footed up twenty-five thousand four hundred and fifty-one dollars and ninety-nine cents. The ownership of the ditch was then transferred to the Auburn Canal Company, and the Auburn Water Company dissolved, after having been in existence four months and seventeen days and expended twenty-five thousand dollars on the work.

     The stockholders who organized the company were G. H. Abbott, five thousand dollars; Henry Fuller, five thousand; George Berry, five hundred; Benjamin Chateau, five hundred; A. C. Goodrich, one thousand; W. H. Packwood, two thousand five hundred; Ira Ward, three thousand; J. J. Williams, two thousand five hundred and Isaac Smith one thousand, a total subscription of twenty-one thousand on the days of organization.

     When the line of the ditch was surveyed, it was marked off in sections of forty rods each, and an estimate made of the cost of construction of each separate section, the price per rod ranging from two dollars and fifty for the lowest, to seventeen dollars for the highest price. The contractors were David Markham, four sections; D. O'Neill and John Comisky, four sections; Ingles & Co., two sections, Steele & Co., two sections; Wade & Co., three sections; O'Brien & Co., two sections and D. L. Munsell & Co., three sections.

     The Auburn Canal Company completed the ditch to Pine creek and also extended it southward to and beyond Auburn, built a large reservoir above the town and made distributing ditches to the various gulches, the cost of the entire work amounting to two hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars. The price of water for two or three years was twenty-five cents per miner's inch, but when the miners consented to have Chinese admitted into the camp, the price was reduced about one half.

     In 1875, on the 2nd day of August the Auburn Canal Co. sold the entire property of the company to the Marysville Mining and Water Co., of Yuba County, California. In the deed of conveyance to the latter company the canal is described as being thirty miles in length and having a capacity of 1100 inches.

On the 2nd day of November 1887, the M. M. W. Co. sold the ditch and all the property of the company to S. W. Blaisdell for the sum of thirty-five thousand dollars. Subsequently a ditch was constructed near the foot of the mountains to convey the waters of Pine creek to Salmon creek, where a porphyry formation sixty feet in depth was worked for three years. The amount of gold taken from the bed of Salmon creek since 1862 is estimated at four hundred thousand dollars.

     In the spring of 1862 some Frenchmen discovered gold in some gulches west of Rock creek and some small ditches were constructed that season and the next, to convey water to the diggings, where considerable mining was done for many years. In 1868 a ditch was dug from Rock creek to the mines tapping the creek at the point where the great landslide of 1862 filled the channel of the creek with debris.

     The slide commenced nearly a mile from the creek, on the east side, where there was a seam in the rock running parallel with the side of the mountain. This had filled with water, and the ground being thoroughly saturated broke away to the depth of seventy-five feet or more, and about two hundred feet along the side of the mountain forming a mass of thousands of tons of mud, fragments 'of rock and trees - which swept everything before it down the side of the mountain to the creek, and by its momentum driving a mass of debris nearly a quarter of a mile up the side of the opposite hill. The noise made by the descending mass was described by the Frenchmen, who were about a mile from the place, as something terrific.

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