First Companies

Men watching water flow into irrigation system <br />

These men on a hillside had likely just opened a sluice (a gate used to control water) to release a large quantity of water into the irrigation system. When they closed the sluice, it may have functioned as a weir (a small dam that regulates water flow). This would allow a smaller amount water to flow over the top to keep the irrigation system running. The water ran down a chute. Various features called “checks” probably existed along the canal, to slow the water down and prevent flooding.[71]

To meet the demand for purer water and fair distribution, at least four irrigation companies and six culinary water companies were formed within 5 years, the majority in 1902:

Irrigation Companies

        1. Spring Creek Water Company, organized January 1902

             - First president: Joseph Alastor Smith, Sr.  

        2. Providence-Blacksmith Fork Irrigation Company, organized February 1902

             - First president: Godfrey Fuhriman. 

        3. Logan River and Blacksmith Fork Irrigation Company, registered March 1902

        4. Providence-Logan Irrigation Company, registered April 1902

        5. Providence Pioneer Irrigation Company, registered November 1904

Culinary Water Companies

        1. Pioneer Water Works Company, formed April 1901

        2. Peerless Water Works Company, formed June 1901

        3. Providence Water Works Company, formed January 1902

             - First president: Joseph Campbell. 

        4. Providence North West Water Company, formed January 1902

        5. Crystal Water Works Company, formed Spring 1902

             - First president: August Bisegger.  

        6. Last Chance Pipe Company, formed June 1902.[69]

All of the irrigation companies were organized as mutual companies, meaning they were “managed by and belong[ed] to the farmers they serve[d].”[70]

The photographs below show Godfrey Fuhriman (left), Joseph Alastor Smith, Sr. (center), and Joseph Campbell (right), the first presidents of the Providence Blacksmith Fork Irrigation Company, Spring Creek Water Company, and the Providence Water Works Company, respectively.

The people of Providence were well-aware that irrigation canals were not the best source of household water. The new culinary water companies used reservoirs and pipes to draw water directly from “mountain springs” instead.[77]  It was “the families located most advantageously under the springs” who “organized themselves into companies.”[78]  These companies also bought 8,000 acres of land to help “preserv[e] a clean water shed.”[79]


There was intense competition between all the water companies to obtain rights to certain water sources.[80]  Conflict only increased between 1915 and 1921, a period of severe drought in Providence.[81]  Companies were eager to combat any petition for new water rights that would infringe on their previously existing ones. When E. P. Hansen sought for rights to Spring Creek water claimed by the Spring Creek Water Company, the Board ordered “that the directors protest, and do all in [their] power to prevent any person or persons from taking any water from Spring Creek.”[82]  But although there was competition, there was also some friendly interaction. Individuals like Godfrey Fuhriman and William Zollinger served as officers in more than one company at a time.[83]

The companies not only had to interact and resolve issues with each other, but also with the municipal and state governments. At this time the municipal government only consisted of an elected town board.[84]  Companies worked with the town board to manage repairs involving city-owned property.[85]  There began to be talk of cooperation between the city and the water companies to create a “municipal water system.” A town meeting was called to consider the subject in 1915.[86]  A member from of the state health board got involved, emphasizing the need for pure water and “urg[ing]” the town to “install an up to date system.”[87]  The town board was thereafter “authorized to act as a committee to investigate” the matter.[88]  Cooperation with the state government became crucial in this period, especially with the State Engineer. The State Engineer was a governor-appointed position.[89]  Applications for water rights now went to the Engineer instead of the County Court, for under the Utah Constitution all water within the state belonged to the State.[90]  Any significant projects had to be approved by the Engineer. He also worked with the companies to determine the safest and most practicable methods for conveying water.[91]

[69] Baker Waters 14-17, 150-151; “Providence”; “Business Search,” Division of Corporations and Commercial Code, https://secure.utah.gov/bes/index.html.
[70] Ricks and Cooley, 150.
[71] United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation, Design Standards No. 3: Canals and Related Structures (Denver: Office of Chief Engineer, 1967) https://www.google.com/url?sa+t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiVzf3r4IryAhVKip4KHU9cBUEQFjAAegQIDRAD&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.usbr.gov%2Fpn%2Fsnakeriver%2Flanduse%2Fauthorized%2Fdesignstandusg=A)vVaw3RFrOd62Krig3XWVUysDle,  166-170, 219, 237; Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, s.v. "Sluice," accessed July 30, 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sluice.
[72] "Utah, Latter-Day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9PC-7HGK?cc=2243396: 30 September 2019), > image 1 of 1; citing Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, 4 volumes (Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Company, 1901), 86-87.
[73] Spring Creek Water Company Minutes, 1902-2010, Bd Ms 123, Bound Manuscripts Collection, Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections and Archives Division, Logan, Utah (original returned to Spring Creek Water Company, digital version available), 100 (104), 145 (149); Baker Waters 151.
[74] "United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MMRJ-R4Q: accessed 30 July 2021), Joseph A. Smith, Providence Precinct Providence town, Cache, Utah, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 82, sheet 3B, family 55, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,682; "Utah Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel Database, 1847-1868," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QK9B-C57G: 10 February 2018), Joseph Alastor Smith, 29 Aug 1868; from "Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel: 1847-1868," database, > The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (https://history.lds.org/overlandtravels/ : 2004-).
[75] "United States Census, 1900."
[76] “Providence—Water.”
[77] “Providence—Water.”
[78] “Providence—Some Local Enterprises,” Deseret Evening News. April 9, 1904, p. 11, https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s62z21g7/2491404.
[79] Baker, Waters, 21.
[80] Baker, Waters, 28.
[81] Baker, Waters, 28.
[82] Spring Creek Water Company Minutes, 206 (202).
[83] “Providence has Election Revolt,” Logan Republican, November 9, 1907, p. 1, https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6zs3v69/4714317
[84] Spring Creek Water Company Minutes, 172 (168).
[85] Baker, Waters, 26.
[86] “Providence Pointers,” Logan Republican, December 21, 1915, p. 1, https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6dn53x1/4811735.
[87] “Providence Pointers.”
[88] “Irrigation and Water Rights,” Salt Lake Herald-Republican, March 6, 1895, p. 4, https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6fb68w7/11292588.
[89] “Irrigation and Water Rights.”
[90] Spring Creek Water Company Minutes, 207 (203); “State Engineer’s Report,” Salt Lake Tribune, January 1, 1899, p. 36, https://newspapers.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6378kcv/12809479.