Last Chance Canal

Last Chance Canal (HM22VZ)

Location: Grace, ID 83241 Caribou County
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Country: United States of America
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N 42° 36.029', W 111° 42.648'

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Blocked by lava eruptions at least 140,000 years ago, the Bear River was diverted from draining into the Snake River system.
It was forced to drain southward into what were then lakes Thatcher and Bonneville and is now the Great Salt Lake.

The river direction doubles back on itself from its source in the high Uinta Mountains of eastern Utah, forming a giant horseshoe shape.
The shift sent the Bear River south through the Grace area, carving a deep and rocky gorge in young basalt flows.
The gorge complicated any effort to move irritation water onto the surrounding fertile fields.

The Last Chance Canal Company, a name that described the settlers' desperation, began in 1895.
They had an implementation deadline to meet or lose their water rights.
The early pioneers persevered, and their ingenuity finally got water to both sides of the Gem Valley in 1902.

Morrison-Knudsen Company (MK) was awarded the contract in 1916 to create a tunnel through solid lava rock, solving years of trouble with wooden flumes along the river.
Two brothers, contracted by MK, dug the canal.
They began at opposite ends of the rock barrier and met within a foot of alignment. Much of the drilling of the 1,800-foot tunnel (12 feet wide and 9 feet high) was done with hand tools.
The rock was hauled out with a horse pulling a small
rail car.

At the tunnel outlet, a new cross-river flume was constructed and supported by a great concrete arch. An upstream dam and headworks diverts water to the tunnel for irrigation and hydro-electricity generation. The engineering masterpiece was built without federal assistance and without outside capital by local farmers who worked cooperatively in best spirit of Mormon settlers.
An all-steel flume replaced the concrete arch in 1946. The arch remains, a reminder of the determined local efforts that brought irrigation water to the Grace area.
Much of Gem Valley farming and ranching would not exist without this project.
HM NumberHM22VZ
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, November 15th, 2017 at 7:03am PST -08:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)12T E 441689 N 4716695
Decimal Degrees42.60048333, -111.71080000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 42° 36.029', W 111° 42.648'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds42° 36' 1.7400000000002" N, 111° 42' 38.88" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)208
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near Last Chance Ln, Grace ID 83241, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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