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Re: Dutch Ditch

Posted: Sun Sep 12, 2010 12:32 pm
by Jim Hatt

Everything I have ever read on the subject said Swilling was the Ramrod behind the project. Why do you think he was not involved? Did you uncover something interesting and contrary to that?



Re: Dutch Ditch

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 8:32 am
by roc2rol
Hi Jim & Everyone :)

Actually I have found some contrary information concerning Dutch’s Ditch.

When I made the discovery and took the picture of the canal,
I was pretty certain it was the original remnant of Dutch’s Ditch.
But further studies led me into Hohokam canal systems and I started to doubt my revelation!
Ah! A couple of weeks ago I was perusing a book on the Superstitions Mnts & the LDM.
Lo and Behold !!
I got confirmation that what I found was inDeed
the original remnant of the D.D.!

(This work will go unnamed -
but it comes from a exemplary respected historian) ;)

Then I uncovered this statement which comes from
Todd W. Bostwick (City of Phoenix Archeologist).

“The origins and history of Dutch Ditch is not well understood,
but Confederate veteran Columbus “Lum” Gray
appears to have been involved in its construction and operation.”

So you would be correct that Jack Swilling
was the ditch overseer or ‘zanjeros’
of all these early canal projects.
But Phoenix was ‘ditch mad’ during this phase.
Many groups of people organize and made claims
to water rights which were recorded in Prescott.

Well I have more but wanted to post this trickle…
the flood is yet to come….

Re: Dutch Ditch

Posted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:06 am
by Jim Hatt
Hi Ed,

Here is what Robert Blair wrote about Swilling, Waltz and the Dutch Ditch in his book Tales of the Superstitions. Since the text mentions the map on page 58, I will include it again too.






Re: Dutch Ditch

Posted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 8:26 am
by roc2rol
Thanks so much for posting that Blair page, Jim!

That book is on my high priority list to read!
Those 2 pages are full of great info on the Waltz’s property,
the D.D., and the Starar (starrar, starr, star?) Bros.
I’d stake a claim on them.
I think their history hasn’t been ferreted out well enough;
and if done, it may shed more light on the mystery of the Dutchman lore in Phoenix.

but I’ll have wait just a little while longer to read the book by Blair

As you may know the Arizona Room at the Burton Barr Library as been closed all summer. No reference works have been available to view. They are remodeling. Its going to re-open on 2nd floor and soon- perhaps this weekend. It’ll be interesting to see how the LDM section is reorganize and I’ll be sure to put the librarians thru the tasks! HaHa

I just got real interested in locating the DD from my LDM readings and thought I post my finding. That search honed my interest in ancient Phoenix and the township origins. I could rattle on about Hohokams, pioneers, ditch flow, & head gates— but it wouldn’t float anyone’s boat.

But there are 2 other issues I’d like to address in closing.

A major Hohokam archeological excavation that is occurring at Sky Harbor Airport includes the area of 16th and Buckeye. Yep!! That’s Right! Right where ol’dutchman were settled! What are they really digging for? Ha Ha!

And what they named this excavation project should make any Dutch Hunter/Historian smile

The Dutch Canal Ruins !

The second issue is the inquiry on the maps. I’ve poured over many maps in my recent canal research and have seen many interesting features. I have always wondered if gold placers might be in the Salt or any of these old canal runs? But this one map I found --is historically cool. Many may not know of it --- so I’ll post this link.

The short on it is that aerial photography was done in 1930 to show the ancient canal works of Phoenix. It was done to preserve this marvel of diggings and was partly supported by Pueblo Grande Museum. The example on the web link shows west Phoenix. Over at the museum they have the map of east Phoenix. It can only be viewed on weekdays and an appointment is best made. So I haven’t been able to work that into my poor work schedule, yet. But it really interests me!

I want to thank everyone for taking a canal trip with me !
Its no Venice-- but is full of golden legends!

Re: Dutch Ditch

Posted: Wed Sep 22, 2010 10:11 pm
by Jim Hatt
Very interesting Ed,

Do you have any idea how much of the original Dutch-Ditch still exists today?



Re: Dutch Ditch

Posted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 6:55 pm
by roc2rol
It’s a good question, Jim

I haven't read all the available resources, yet

So all I can remark is that the original remnants of Dutch’s Ditch is about 100 yards long. This is what I photographed. I have done a pretty thorough walk/drive thru of the area and haven’t located any other dug out areas. I’m assuming that the remaining 2 miles of ‘the ditch’ have been covered/paved over and forgotten. But perhaps, its piped underground and is still functional?

I can remark that there is also a 375m-long portion of the original Swilling Ditch which is preserved. Its located the on the east side of Sky Harbor Airport. The depth of the canal is at least 2 m and archaeologist’s have ‘meticulously recorded 29 different stratigraphic layers of sediment’. This was preserved by the City of Phoenix because of its historical significance.

This map is from Glovers book “Golden Dreams” (p. 135). It really intrigues me! Not sure how well my picture is re-produced but you’ll notice that there is a diagonal line cut across section 16 that is marked as a ‘gully’. Unfortunately, Glover doesn’t reference the year or date of this map but I’ve came across it before.

My research is to determine if this gully is a natural formation or was it dug by the Hohokams? Or some other occurence? I just think it strange that its noted, with out any comment, is similar to the Dutch's Ditch location, and is where Waltz & Co. chose to settle.


Re: Dutch Ditch

Posted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:23 pm
by Jbeadle
"Dutch Ditch" was a going concern at least into the late '60s, although it was not labeled on any map. It was an open canal that paralleled the railroad tracks just north of Sky Harbor and went underground a little bit west of 24th St. Of course, that was the old Golden Gate community, obliterated in the name of "progress."

The Phoenix map still shows traces of old canals. Randolph Road, for instance is the site of the old Maricopa Canal, and the street grid still shows signs of it up around Central and Indian School. Villa Street near 16th St. traces the Salt River Valley Canal.

I wonder if these canals still exist as water conveyances, only covered up, as are the Hayden Canal and San Francisco Canals on the south bank of the Salt River, which I remember from my childhood? Can anyone shed some light on this?

Re: Dutch Ditch

Posted: Tue Feb 18, 2014 9:36 am
by roc2rol
Wow! Thanks for the information!
Sorry I missed this.
You posted quite awhile ago
Haven't done much other research
I really got into it a couple years ago
I'm due for another tour of Pueblo Grande

Re: Dutch Ditch

Posted: Wed Feb 19, 2014 4:27 pm
by Matthew Roberts

The Dutch Ditch issue is confusing and completely misunderstood by so many individuals who try to pin it down.

The key to understanding the Dutch Ditch is to keep it in it's proper time frame. In June 1986 Archaeologists working on the Phoenix Basin Pathways Through Time Project studied the canals in what was known as the Papago Freeway Corridor, an area bounded on the north by Van Buren Street, on the west by 9th Street, on the east by 28th Street and on the south by the Salt River. Jacob Waltz's homestead was centered right in the middle of this study area. David Greenwald and Richard Torrello led the study and excavations.

Their findings showed the original Dutch Ditch ran on an east to west bearing following along where Harrison Street is located today. The ditch was just a few yards south of the railroad tracks and paralleled them. The tracks are still there today. Waltz's homestead was a couple hundred yards to the south of this ditch.

The original Dutch Ditch predated the town of Phoenix. When Phoenix was established and the streets and lots laid out the Dutch Ditch ran all the way across the north half of the town site. The Dutch Ditch was later renamed the Town Ditch.

Before the town site of Phoenix was established the farmers homesteading the southern tiers of land between the Salt River and the soon to be town site needed a canal to supply them with water. An extension running southwest off of the original Dutch Ditch was dug to supply their need for water. This extension started at approximately 19th street and ran southwest to the Salt River cutting across the entire length of Waltz's homestead. This extension became known as the Dutch Ditch Extension and later when the original Dutch Ditch became known as the Town Ditch everyone began referring to the Extension as the "Dutch Ditch".

Confusing ? No not really if you understand the chronological construction of the canals and the naming of those canals in their proper time frames.

The last remnant of the Dutch Ditch Extension was at the I-17 freeway and 7th street but is now covered over.

Matthew Roberts

Re: Dutch Ditch

Posted: Thu May 21, 2015 5:52 pm
by Paul M
I'm new to this forum and I'm not so much of a LDM/Jacob Waltz fanatic, but I am an early Phoenix history fanatic.

And I know this thread/discussion is over a year old, but I've solved the question as to EXACTLY where the Dutch Ditch was located.

If anyone has already used this method and found out this information in the past year, please accept my apologies. But since no one has posted any info in this thread in 15 months, I thought I would.

Quite simply, I found this Phoenix historical aerials site that shows the Dutch Ditch as plain as day! I have seen a few other historical aerials sites, but those only went back as far as 1959. This site has historical aerials from the Phoenix area dating all the way back to January 1930! ... index.html

On the Jan 1930 aerial, you can clearly see where the Dutch Ditch begins, branching off from the Salt River Valley Canal (Swilling's Ditch) at Harrison & 35th St. It then travels along Harrison, just a few yards south of the railroad tracks to 21st St, where it then turns southwest, crossing 16th St just above Hadley, crossing Buckeye at 14th St, continuing southwest through the intersection of 13th St & Yuma to 12th St & Pima where it heads due south, heading southwest again through the intersection of 12th St & Mohave, through the intersection of 11th St & Durango. It crosses the Maricopa Freeway through the backyard of the current-day house at 1018 E. Durango. It cuts diagonally through the business on the SE corner of 7th St & Maricopa Fwy, crosses 7th St just south of the freeway, and ends somewhere west of 7th St.

Again, this is all very clear on the Jan 1930 aerial.

Looking at a modern aerial of the area and also the 1930 aerial, you can also clearly see the remnant of the canal/ditch that Ed (Roc2Rol) found. But this canal/ditch is most definitely not the Dutch Ditch. This ditch does appear to be historic, though, since it was there by 1930 and probably much earlier than that. You were very close, Ed, but off by about 250 feet. You can also clearly see the route this ditch took (it traveled south of the DD) and it looks like it had it's head on the Salt River at about 40th St.

I've looked at quite a few canal maps of that area from long ago (most notably the map by Omar Turney from 1929) and this other ditch is not listed anywhere. In fact, Turney didn't even list the Dutch Ditch by name, although he DOES list a "gully" in about the general area of the Dutch Ditch and this other unnamed ditch.

A few questions:

Why didn't Turney have the Dutch Ditch listed by name on his very extensive canal map, when just about every other map from that era does?

Was the "gully" that Turney listed actually the Dutch Ditch or possibly this other ditch?

Did this other canal/ditch have a name, and if so, what was it?

I'm glad that at least the issue of "EXACTLY where was the Dutch Ditch?" is finally solved though.

I find these old aerials of Phoenix from 1930 completely fascinating, although it's definitely taking up a lot of my!

Btw, if you look in 1930 where Sky Harbor is today, you can clearly see remnants of quite a few old ancient Hohokam canals....underneath the runways now.