Irrigation info The history of irrigation is a huge part of Sequim and the Dungeness Valley. The Sequim Irrigation Festival, held each May, celebrates the work that D.R. “Crazy” Callen and his partners did to design and develop the irrigation ditches that brought water from the Dungeness River to the parched prairie. Hardy pioneers worked all winter long building the ditch and flume. Money was scarce, and the surveyor was paid partly in potatoes. The following spring, it was time for the “big day.” The residents of the Dungeness Valley and surrounding communities came by wagon, on horseback and on foot to witness the opening of the headgate for the first time. The first headgate on the Dungeness River was lifted May 1, 1895. On May 1, 1896, the first celebration took place at Crazy Callen’s farm. This was the start of a tradition that would become the oldest continuing festival in Washington state. Unlike some parts of the Olympic Peninsula, Sequim must irrigate for agriculture because it is in the rain shadow of the Olympics. As irrigation increased, downstream river flows lessened, so farmers and conservationists have taken measures to decrease the diversion of water for irrigation. They have replaced open ditches with covered pipe to cut back on evaporation, for example, and they have decreased the amount of cropland to be irrigated.
SEQUIM’S IRRIGATION FESTIVAL GRAND PARADE WITH THE SEQUIM HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND
If You're Broken, We Can Fix You! Other historical sites
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80 OLYMPIC PENINSULA VISITORS GUIDE • SUMMER 2018
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Two other sites will stand out to you as your travel around Sequim. The Grain Elevator, at 531 W. Washington St., was strategically positioned near the railroad tracks that once cut through town. The old Clallam Co-Op granary has provided a distinctive notch to the Sequim skyline for decades. The former grain elevator, which operated as such from the mid-1940s through the mid-1970s, is the home of the Mexican restaurant Baja Cantina. The structure now also serves the area as a multi-purpose communications tower. Built in 1906, the Sequim Opera House, at 119 N. Sequim Ave., served to quench the creative thirsts and entertainment needs of area residents for many decades. It remains one of Sequim’s oldest commercial buildings and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.