Irrigation Branch Experiment Station Records, 1910-1979

Overview of the Collection

Washington State University. Irrigation Branch Experiment Station
Irrigation Branch Experiment Station Records
1910-1979 (inclusive)
59.5 linear feet of shelf space, (60 Boxes)
Collection Number
Archives 200 (collection)
Contains annual reports; field notes, research records, and research reports; general correspondence collected by the station superintendent and others in one or more separate filing systems.
Washington State University Libraries' Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC)
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Terrell Library Suite 12
Pullman, WA
Telephone: 509-335-6691
Access Restrictions

This collection is open and available for research use.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

Yakima Valley State Representative Ina P. Williams introduced legislation to create the Irrigation Experiment Station on March 13, 1917. The station was to be operated by the College of Agriculture of the State College of Washington. In early 1919, the station was established in Benton County, north of the Sunnyside Canal near Prosser, Washington.

In its first year IES employed 115 men and women, almost all of whom were day laborers. The first superintendent was Roy P. Bean, an animal scientist working in Dairy and Animal Husbandry, who was appointed on May 1, 1919. Irrigation water reached the fields on May 24, 1919, and potatoes, corn, and millet soon began growing as the station's first crops. In 1923 IES added two straw-loft poultry houses with a capacity for 250 hens each. The swine herd was started during 1921 with the purchase of five Duroc-Jersey sows. Cattle came to the station in 1922 when IES bought seven Holstein heifers. In 1924 twenty Lincoln-Merino ewes were purchased from two Prosser citizens.

The experiment station went on to produce large crops and herds in order to fully research the needs of agriculturalists in the state. Its goals included giving attention first to the production of crops under irrigation; second, to the principles and practices involved in the proper use of irrigation water; third, to the disposal of pasture and home grown feed by pasturing dairy cattle and hogs and by feeding sheep, beef cattle and poultry; fourth, to horticultural problems with special reference to tree fruits and potatoes." (Director's Statement, 33rd Annual Report, Washington Agricultural Experiment Station, pp. 5-6.)

On July 11, 1929, Roy Bean was killed by a dairy bull. He had been connected with the station since its establishment and under his supervision two-hundred acres of typical sagebrush land was developed into a well-planned experiment station, rendering effective service to irrigation agriculture," stated the IES Annual Report for that year. Harold P. Singleton succeeded Bean as Superintendent of IES.

The Washington State legislature halved IES's appropriation during the depression and reduced its staff. Some of the livestock had to be sold and salaries and wages were reduced by twenty percent. Although many thought the station faced closure, Governor Clarence D. Martin assigned it an additional $8000 from his emergency fund. Economic conditions improved starting in 1935 and as they did IES added more staff, faculty, and programs. C. Emil Nelson started work in the new plant pathology section, specifically with plant diseases. In 1942 J.D. Menzies became the first designated Plant Pathologist.

In 1937 the station began to produce hybrid corn seed for sale to farmers. Doing so had required the addition of new facilities for drying, shelling, and storage. Eventually the corn seed program supplied corn for all the farmers in the Yakima Valley.

Along with the Washington Agricultural Experiment Station at Pullman and the Washington State Penitentiary at Walla Walla, IES began experimenting with vegetable crop varieties, fertilizer use, and management practices. The project, led by Walter Clore, lasted eight years. AES supplied guard salaries, the penitentiary supervised laborers and guards, and IES supervised field operations and record keeping.

From 1939 to 1945 the station also conducted research on processing adaptability studies of fruits and vegetables. In 1940 this research included work involving processing by freezing. In 1951 the whole processing laboratory transferred from Pullman to Prosser, along with its staff, Dr. A.M. Neubert and George Carter. The program moved again in 1965 to the Western Washington Research and Extension Center.

After the war the Bureau of Reclamation began operating pre-development farm units in the Columbia Basin for crop trials, later were called "Development Farms." The U.S.D.A. and IES worked with the Bureau of Reclamation on these units, concentrating mainly upon horticulture for small fruits and vegetables; they later also researched erosion control and irrigation. Both H.P. Singleton and J.D. Menzies worked as directors of these units.

A greenhouse facility, long sought after for research purposes, was finally added in 1946 and is still in use today at the Prosser station. In 1945 the Poultry Disease Committee suggested that the station establish a diagnostic laboratory to research diseases in poultry. Three years later a laboratory was functioning, but only lasted until 1952 when no veterinarians could be found to fill the researcher position.

Staff increases were common well into the sixties at every level and unit. Programs were also added, including programs in hops research; Aides Programs; fruit breeding; fruit fly control; outlying testing; irrigation engineering; virus diseases; breeding, diseases, and cultural practices with process peas; cherry fruit fly control; and, potato breeding. The results of such programs were regularly shown to area and state farmers at Feeders Days, Field Days, and Special Exhibits Days at Prosser Station.

The Interregional Research Project (IR-2), following years of planning, began operation on July 1, 1955. The project aimed to "assemble desirable clones of deciduous fruit trees, verify their virus freedom, maintain these clones in an isolated repository and distribute propagating materials to scientists or regulatory officials for research or for release to industry." The group would also conduct research and thermotherapy. Funds were provided by the U.S.D.A. and the Prosser station was the national headquarters. Begun on August 1, 1955, the unit soon became the national leader in research on detection and behavior of viral diseases among fruit trees.

Forage seed research produced three new projects, as well: Environmental Effects on the Genetic Stability of Forage Crops Seeds; Cultural and Management Practices in Forage Legume Seed Production with Alfalfa and Red Clover; and, Physiology of Seed Production in Forage Legumes with Alfalfa and Red Clover.

Still other new programs at the station were the Nematology Program and the Potato Disease Program, unique in that it was the only such project wherein the growers provided all the funding for the employment of faculty and non-faculty personnel. The station also did research in green beans and pears.

Dean L.L. Madsen, of the WSU College of Agriculture, C.A. Svinth, Director of Washington Agricultural Extension Service, and Mark T. Buchanan, Director of Washington Agricultural Experiment Station, determined in 1960 that the Irrigation Extension Service Center for Irrigation should be based in Prosser, too.

By 1988 the Superintendent of the station was Lindsey Faulkner. The main research areas continued to be Irrigation, Horticulture, and Plant Pathology.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Irrigation Branch Experiment Station records cover materials collected and filed at the station between 1910 and 1979, This includes annual reports, field notes, research records and reports, and general correspondence originally collected by the station superintendent and others in one or more separate filing systems.

The following container list is not a complete list of all folder titles; such a list would be so large as to be unwieldy. The list is basically a box-by-box list that specifies the first and last folders within that container. Generally this terse presentation should not be a problem for the user because the records consist chiefly of materials arranged by order of date or of alphabetical subject files. Thus, the user can generally deduce the location of a folder of correspondence or a report, provided, of course, the user has the name of a correspondent or the date of a report available from another source.

If a complete list of folder title is desired, the user is advised to consult the last folder in the records. This folder contains a handwritten document, used internally when arranging these records; it lists almost every folder in the entire body of records.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Preferred Citation

[Item description]

Irrigation Branch Experiment Station Records, 1910-1979 (Archives 200)

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Due to the multiple filing systems used at the station and general disarray of the files upon receipt, they have been re-organized in chronological and alphabetical order according to title into three series.

Series 1: Annual Reports, contains annual reports filed chronologically and alphabetically by title.

Series 2: Research Documents, contains field notes, research records, and research reports. These are filed chronologically and alphabetically by title. Also included are special project reports filed numerically.

Series 3: General Correspondence, consists of general correspondence collected by the station superintendent and others in one or more separate filing systems. Annual and research reports in this series are draft copies. Files which had no date were filed at the end of the series.

At the end of Series 3 is a complete files list for all three series.

Acquisition Information

Records of the Irrigation Experiment Station at Prosser, Washington, were transferred to Washington State University Libraries in 1978 and 1981 (UA78-19 and UA81-03).

Processing Note

The records were processed by Harvey Young and Patricia M. Hall from 1987 to 1988.

Related Materials

Irrigation Branch Experiment Station (Prosser) Reports, 1919-1960 (Archives 76)

Irrigated Agriculture Research and Experiment Center (Prosser) Grapes/Wine Research Records, 1940-1984 (Archives 214)

Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center Photographs, 1919-1969 (PC 195)

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Annual Reports: Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1-45
Annual Reports
2 46-66
Annual Reports
3 67-88.01
Annual Reports
3a 88.02-88.20
Annual Reports
3b 88.21-91.02
Annual Reports
4 92-114
Annual Reports

Research Documents: Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
4 115-124
Field Notes
5 125-126
General Reports
5 127-128
General Research
5 129-142
Research Records: W. O. Pruitt
6 142.01-.05
Research Records (Legal Size)
7 143-178
Research Records: W. O. Pruitt
7 179
Research Records: "Officials Records of the Interregional Research Project, IR-2,"
7 180-188
Research Reports
8 189-283
Research Reports
9 284-343
Research Reports
10 344-413
Research Reports
10 414-427
Specific Projects, Project 1205
10 428-435
Project 1732

General Correspondence: Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
11 436-474
Project Outlines 1910, 1915, 1919 -- Correspondence "A-B," 1925
12 474.01-515
Alkali Soils 1925 -- Correspondence "I," 1929-1930
13 516-583
Edward C. Johnson, 1929 -- Horticulture, 1932
14 584-642
Edward C. Johnson 1932 -- Edward C. Johnson, 1935
15 643-717
Research 1935-1965 -- Horticulture Department, 1937
16 718-801
Correspondence "I," 1937 -- Irrigation Experiment Station, 1938-1940
17 802-888
Correspondence "J," 1938 -- Correspondence "G," 1939
18 889-957
Correspondence "H," 1939 -- Correspondence "Z," 1939
19 958-1023
Correspondence "A," 1940 -- Returned Seed Corn Questionaire, 1940
20 1024-1086
Rough Draft of Report to Dean Johnson 1940 -- Government Publications Ordered, 1941
21 1087-1168
President E.O. Holland 1941 -- Correspondence "Z," 1941
22 1169-1229
Correspondence "A," 1942 -- Edward C. Johnson and E.V. Ellington, 1942
23 1230-1300
Correspondence "K," 1942 -- Yakima Fruit Growers Association
24 1301-1375
Correspondence "A," 1943 -- E.L. Overholser, 1943
25 1376-1459
Correspondence "P," 1943 -- Gas Rationing Reports, 1944
26 1460-1527
Correspondence "H," 1944 -- Yakima Fruit Growers Association, 1944
27 1528-1601
Correspondence "A," 1945 -- J.D. Menzies, 1945
28 1602-1660
Missouri River Basin 1945 -- Columbia Basin Interagency Committee Meeting Minutes, 1946
29 1661-1745
County Extension Service 1946 -- Correspondence "X, Y, Z," 1946
30 1746-1828
Correspondence "A," 1947 -- Library, 1947
31 1829-1905
Correspondence "M-Mc," 1947 -- Correspondence "Z," 1947
32 1906-1992
Correspondence "A," 1948 -- Quarterly Report, 1948
33 1993-2063
Correspondence "R," 1948 -- Correspondence, 1949
34 2064-2174
Correspondence "D," 1949 -- Correspondence, "Z," 1949
35 2175-2227
Administration 1950 -- Experiment Station, 1950
36 2228-2312
Experiment Station 1950 -- Correspondence "Z," 1950
37 2313-2366
Correspondence "A," 1951 -- Irrigation Research, College and Bureau of Reclamation, 1951
38 2367-2418
Correspondence "J," 1951 -- Leonard Young, 1951
39 2419-2467
Correspondence "A," 1952 -- Correspondence "L," 1952
40 2468-2515
"Land Ownership ad Major Land Use--Columbia River Basin Area," 1952 -- Leonard Young, 1952
41 2516-2573
Correspondence "A," 1953 -- Correspondence "R," 1953
42 2574-2638
Correspondence "S," 1953 -- J.C. Knott, 1954
43 2639-2677
Correspondence "L," 1954 -- Leonard Young, Assistant to the Director, 1954
44 2678-2749
Correspondence "A," 1955 -- Leonard Young, Assistant to the Director, 1955
45 2750-2824
Correspondence "A-B," 1956 -- Crops Research, 1957
46 2825-2902
Correspondence "D-E," 1957 -- Animal Science, 1958
47 2903-2968
Annual Research Report, Parts I and II 1958 -- Aides Seminar, 1959
48 2969-3035
Animal Science 1959 -- Weeds, 1959
49 3036-3089
Agricultural Chemistry 1960 -- Wind, 1960-1962
50 3090-3137
Central Committee WSU Agricultural Advisory Board 1961 -- Irrigated Agriculture Research Center, Health Research Facilities Grant, 1961
51 3138-3196
Seminar 1961 -- Wind Erosion, includes Photographs, 1962
52 3197-3243
Agricultural Engineering 1963 -- Wind Erosion, 1963
53 3244-3327
Agricultural Engineering 1964 -- Land Use, 1965
54 3328-3397
Louis L. Madsen 1965 -- Hops Commission, 1966
55 3398-3461
Horticulture 1966 -- Superintendent's Meetings, 1966
56 3462-3529
Margin of Excellence, 1966 --Robert Kunkel
57 3530-3600
Land Allocation 1969 -- Correspondence, 1979
58 3601-3631
"Alfalfa Production Under Irrigation," by H.P. Singleton -- Works Progress Administration, Extension
58 3632
Complete Files List

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Agricultural experiment stations -- Research -- Washington (State)
  • Agriculture
  • Agriculture -- Experimentation
  • Irrigation farming -- Washington (State)

Corporate Names

  • State College of Washington. Irrigation Branch Experiment Station -- Records and correspondence
  • Washington State University. Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center -- Records and correspondence
  • Washington State University. Irrigation Branch Experiment Station -- Records and correspondence

Other Creators

  • Corporate Names
    • State College of Washington. Irrigation Branch Experiment Station (creator)
    • Washington State University. Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (creator)