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Add residents of Farson and Eden, Wyoming from any time period to this project. You can visit HistoryLink to find out which projects include your ancestors.

Prior to settlement, Eden Valley was a thoroughfare for various types of travelers. One of the oldest types of arrowheads known, was named the "Eden Point", and was discovered in this area by archaeologists as well as ancient Indian camps, indicating evidence of Indian presence. Mountain men Jedediah Smith, Thomas Fitzpatrick and William Sublette, who were looking for a practical and route over the Rocky Mountains for the fur trade, made the first east-west crossing of South Pass in 1824. John C. Fremont surveyed South Pass in 1842, mapping the route that would become the Oregon and Mormon Trails. Thousands of pioneers made their way to Oregon, California and Utah on the trail from the 1840's through the 1860's. Pioneer accounts talk of following the Big Sandy to the Green River which would have taken them through Eden Valley. Later the Pony Express and telegraph lines followed the same route.

Although there were a few attempts at settlement of the area in the 1880's, the majority of settlers came after a large scale irrigation project under the provision of the Carey Act, was financed by John M. Farson, Sons & Company in 1907. Like the Homestead Act, the Carey Act allowed each settler 160 acres of Federal Land, but differed in requiring that they pay fifty cents per acre for the land and $30 per acre for the water right. Payment was due in ten years if they could irrigate at least 20 acres. The sources for irrigation are the Big and Little Sandy Rivers, which begin north in the snow fields of the Wind River Mountain Range.

To attract settlers to the area, promoters distributed pamphlets about the advantages of farming in the valley. Claims proved to be exaggerated, such as "fruit orchards will thrive and corn will grow higher than a man's head" and "the growing season in Eden Valley is as delightful as can be found in the country anywhere."

Lured by the promise of a prosperous new beginning, settlers started coming around 1907. Most traveled on the Union Pacific Railroad to Rock Springs, bringing furniture, farm equipment and even animals with them in emigrant cars. They continued by wagon to Eden Valley. Some of the earliest arrivals lived in tents during their first winter here. Early settler Ivan Dearth summed up the optimism of his neighbors when he said: "I like this place and with reasonable luck can do well here." The Eden Land and Irrigation company went bankrupt in 1923. After that, the project had several owners.

Finally in 1940, the Farm Security Administration bought the irrigation project with a plan to use Civilian Conservation Corps labor to build a dam on the Big Sandy River. World War II delayed construction until the 1950's when the Big Sandy reservoir and additional canals were completed. The Eden Valley Irrigation and Drainage district was then formed to oversee operation of the project. Flood irrigation was the predominate method used. Besides crop production, other types of agriculture supported area families.

Source: Eden Valley, Wyoming: Our History

See also: Farson Mercantile