BUILD YOURSELF A
CANAL FOR FUN!
By Norris Chambers
By Norris Chambers
The objective of the project was to construct a system of big
pipes and canals to move water from
We lived about twenty miles from the lake dam where the project
was started and I chugged along in my Model T Ford early in the morning,
anxious to begin making the big money. The wage rate was twenty-five
cents an hour. No mention was made of overtime pay. Twenty-five cents an
hour sounded like a fortune compared to the dollar a day for twelve
hours that was common for farm work.
When I arrived at the area the first thing I noticed was a bunch
of old cars and a lot of men milling around. There was a lot of black
dirt piled around here and there and some big equipment that I was not
familiar with. I had heard of steam shovels and I thought one of the big
things might be one. I didn’t see any boiler and I assumed that
regular engines had taken the place of the old steam engines. The big
shovel thing moved on down toward the end of the dirt piles.
I started to look for the boss but he found me first. It was the
same man I had talked to when I was hired. He didn’t lose any time in
telling me what to do.
“Did you ever do any string leveling?” he asked. I gave him
an honest answer. I didn’t even know what he was talking about.
“You see that ditch running south?” He pointed toward a wide
deep ditch that had been hidden by the piles of dirt. “You will take a
wheel barrow and dump sand on the bottom and level it off with the two
strings running down the bottom. The steel men will be behind you and
tie in the
reinforcing on the bottom and sides. The concrete folks will then be
along.” He pointed to a huge pile of nice, clean sand. There were
several wheel barrows around it and one man was filling his wheel barrow
with a shovel. I took one of
the wheel barrows and a shovel and started filling it. The other man
told me that we would fill the ditch to the strings and others would
The ditch was about four for five feet deep and six or seven feet
wide. Both sides were sloped down toward the bottom. The bottom was
relatively flat and about four feet wide. There were two string lines
spaced about two feet apart running down the middle of the ditch and it
was our job to haul sand and fill the ditch to the lines. There was
about a half mile of relatively level ditch in front of us and a bunch
of busy digging machines at the end.
Dump trucks kept us well supplied with sand and we made
considerable progress the first day. I worked there several weeks and I
sort of enjoyed the work. I finally quit and helped my dad catch up on
the farm work. I was a much richer kid after collecting for all those
hours – no deductions for social security or income tax in those days.
Several years later I joined a friend in a float fishing trip on
the canal. Fish were plentiful in the ditch as the water rushed on
toward the reservoirs on the edge of town. We had some jug floats with
short lines and a hook attached. These were thrown into the ditch and we
drove two or three miles down the canal and retrieved the jugs and the
nice big catfish the floats had caught. The hooks were re-baited and the
same process was repeated.
The jug fishing was the fun part of the watering system that I
helped to start. That made double fun – hauling sand and catching
fish! Maybe you should build a canal, catch fish and have fun!