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Klamath Falls, Project histories intertwined

 January 28, 2005

A hundred years ago Klamath Falls wasn't much, except to the people who lived here.

The railroad hadn't arrived yet, roads were primitive and the population numbered in the hundreds.

But agriculture attracted people to the area.

Such companies as the Linkville Water Ditch Company, the Klamath Falls Irrigation Company and others brought water to the town that was first known as Linkville and became known as Klamath Falls in 1893. That name was made official when the city obtained its charter in 1905, and there's a nice fistful of events coming up this year commemorating the event.

There's another centennial coming up, too, that had a lot to do with Klamath Falls' growth - that of the Klamath Reclamation Project. Without it, Klamath Falls wouldn't have nearly as much to celebrate.

The Project has 240,000 acres under irrigation, and the revenues from them flow through the area creating income, jobs - and towns.

The Project was authorized in 1905, and the Bureau of Reclamation put private irrigation projects together with canals and dams built by the federal government.

Plans are to commemorate the Project's centennial with a history book due out in June, and booths and displays during the year, coordinated with the city's celebrations.

Included in the city's centennial celebrations for February is the Mayor's Ball Feb. 18. The ball has a budget of $10,000, which is underwritten by the city, but is expected to be covered by ticket sales. As long as it's not likely to lose money, let the partying begin.

The centennial commemoration also ties in with the Winter Wings Festival Feb. 17-20, which is a celebration of Klamath's place in the birding universe. The festival grew out of the long-running Bald Eagle Conference. Its primary sponsor is the Klamath Basin Audubon Society.

Centennial events for the city and Project will continue through the year. Some are one-time only events, such as Mayor's Ball, while others are annual events with centennial tie-ins and themes.

That the city and the Project centennials occur the same year is a nice bit of historical symbolism that highlights how much they're intertwined, as we'll be finding out through 2005.
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