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The Beginnings

Middle Fork Irrigating Company filed its Articles of Incorporation with the State of Oregon October 5, 1896. Board members were paid $1.50 per day to build the first ditch from the East Fork of the Middle Fork of the Hood River (Eliot Branch).The Middle Fork Irrigating Company claimed a total of 3,250 acres to be irrigated through their system in the Hood River Adjudication proceeding.


On September 19,1921 The Middle Fork Irrigation District (MFID) was organized under the laws of the State of Oregon as a taxing body for the purpose of delivering irrigation water to properties within its territory. It is administered by a Board of Directors elected by registered voters of the district. MFID bought the Middle Fork Irrigating Company for $45,000 on February 13, 1923. The Middle Fork Irrigating Company was then dissolved. Glacier Irrigating Company, which served portions within the Southeast boundary of the district, was absorbed by MFID on or about June 30, 1956.  Currently water is delivered to 627 tax lots or 6,362 irrigated acres, managed by 404 water users. 


MFID crew installing pipe for the Lava Line, circa 1966.  Note lava flow in background.

Clear Branch Dam

In the early 1960’s Sheldon Laurance, Chairman MFID, signed a project agreement with the USDA Soil Conservation Service for joint construction of Clear Branch Dam, Clear Branch Conduit, the Sediment Basin, and over 45 miles of distribution pipelines. The dam was constructed in 1968 with the purpose to provide irrigation to 8,400 acres in the Upper Hood River Valley. At this time, hydroelectric generation was considered and rejected, primarily due to the cost of extending power lines to the dam. When full, Laurance Lake has 130 surface acres and 3,500 acre feet of storage capacity. The lake helps provide irrigation water to 6,362 acres of pears, apples, cherries and other crops in the Upper Hood River Valley. Hood River is the largest fruit-growing district in the State of Oregon.



Pipe staged along Clear Creek Road.  Photo is looking north toward old McIsaac's store in distance.


"Safety Pays" sign at the entrance to the Eliot Creek Diversion, circa 1965.



In 1985 the Hydro Project was built. Before irrigation water reaches the orchards and other crops it is routed through three small hydroelectric plants. At capacity these turbines can produce approximately 3.2 megawatts of electricity annually; equivalent to the average annual energy used by 880 all electric homes. The completed hydroelectric project cost $7.5 million and came on line in March of 1986. The project was designed to be compatible with the district's primary function, delivery of irrigation water to district patrons. Waters of Clear Branch, Eliot Branch, and Coe Branch of the Middle Fork of the Hood River are used for generation of electricity.


Powerhouse 2 framework up.  1985


Laurance Lake and Clear Branch Dam looking upstream.  1994

Powerhouse 3 equipment ready to be craned into place through the roof.  1985-1986

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