Boulder City Magazine® August 2008 Issue
|Boulder City History
by Roseanne Schoaff, Manager
Boulder Dam Hotel
Unsung Heroes: Walnut Queen
Before Einstein, there was Newton’s Law of Gravity on which to build the new Theory of Relativity, and before the Hoover Dam, there was Harriet Strong’s patent for a system of water storage and irrigation. Like Newton’s concepts directed physicists to the further study of gravity, Strong’s vision eventually led lawmakers and engineers to create the Boulder Canyon Project.
Boulder City Magazine®
|Born in Buffalo, New York, and at a young age moving with her family to a mining town along the California/Nevada border, she eventually met and married mining tycoon, Charles Strong. Tired of the stress of mining, the couple moved to Southern California and bought 320 acres of farm land. Saddled with the loss of her husband to suicide, a failing estate, and four daughters to raise, Strong studied and discovered a scientific way of storing and irrigating the crops in this arid climate. Her discovery was not only beneficial to her estate, but would forever alter farming in California.
A self-taught, successful businesswoman, Strong invented and had patented a dry-land irrigation and water conservation system in 1887. This invention included a call for a canyon-wall reservoir along the Colorado River. She displayed her “Strong System of Water Storage” at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and presented her patented idea to a Congressional Committee. When congress dismissed her idea of a flood control water storage system, she set out to promote education and women’s suffrage across the United States.
Strong’s proposal to use the Grand Canyon as a reservoir and divert the Colorado River to the farmlands of California was rejected by a Congressional Committee during World War I. Determined to persevere, Strong was not only an advocate for her own financial benefit, but became a liaison for all women. She continued to lobby congress with her world vision. Also, traveling across the country with Susan B. Anthony, the two women promoted education, independence, and women’s suffrage. Harriett Strong became the first female member of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce along with the first woman Trustee of the University of Southern California Law School, and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2000.
On behalf of the Boulder City Museum and Historical Association.
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