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Inquiry Question

Historical Context





Table of

"Making the Desert Bloom": The Rio Grande Project
Supplementary Resources

In this lesson, students have learned about how the Bureau of Reclamation transformed the valley of the Rio Grande by creating Elephant Butte Dam and the Rio Grande irrigation project, and about some of the problems they encountered along the way.  Those interested in learning more will find much useful information on the internet. Some sources are:

Project Details for the Rio Grande Project
This Reclamation website provides basic information on the Project, including descriptions of its features, its history and construction, and the benefits it provides.

Bureau of Reclamation History
This website includes links to a number of documents, including a short history of Reclamation, a longer, book-length history of the years before 1945, and a study of large Federal dams, including Elephant Butte.

The full text of the 1902 Reclamation Act can be found on a website maintained by the Center for Columbia River History.

National Park Service

The Bureau of Reclamation Historic Dams and Water Projects travel itinerary includes Elephant Butte, Leasburg, and Percha dams, as well as useful essays on water in the West, the mission of the Bureau of Reclamation, and Reclamation’s engineering achievements.

The Teaching with Historic Places lesson plan, "The Greatest Dam in the World": Building Hoover Dam, discusses why and how Hoover Dam was constructed, in the context of the changing focus of the Bureau of Reclamation in the late 1920s and 30s.

The Adeline Hornbek and the Homestead Act: A Colorado Success Story Teaching with Historic Places lesson plan tells how a single mother of four defied traditional gender roles to become the owner of a successful ranch under the Homestead Act.

This website, created by the Oswego City School District Regents Exam Prep Center in Oswego, New York, provides a clear and readable history of Progressivism in the United States, including a list of the most important reform laws passed during the period.

A website maintained by the Texas Department of Transportation contains a link to an excellent, detailed "Field Guide to Irrigation in the Lower Rio Grande Valley."

The website of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has a link to a chapter of a book that provides simple explanations of how an irrigation system works, with graphics.  Other chapters in the same book, published by the FAO in 1985, cover soils, topography, etc.

The Bureau of Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Region has developed a website that contains educational materials that use an idealized farm to explain the three basic irrigation methods, how each one works, when it works best, and what the costs and benefits are.  The site also includes lesson plans.

The U.S. Geological Survey has created a Water Science for Schools website that answers every question you are likely to have about water, including information about how wet your state is.

Water in the West
This website, maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, discusses irrigation in the Western United States today, including efforts at water conservation.

This website contains the full text of the Bureau of Reclamation's report on global climate mentioned in “Putting It All Together.”

Population statistics
Historical population data for Albuquerque, New Mexico can be found at this website.

Historical population data for El Paso, Texas, can be found at this website.

Historical population data for Las Cruces, New Mexico, can be found at this website.


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