Wessels Living History Farm - York Nebraska Farming in the 1920s
Machines Farm Life Crops Pests & Weeds Making Money Water  World Events
Water Header
Sections: -->Introduction
The Start of Groundwater Irrigation


Walter Schmitt speaks about irrigation history and power sources.

Watch This Video
(Quicktime required)

Walter Schmitt Video
"Nebraska" comes from an Oto Indian word meaning "flat water," referring to the Platte River. York County is south of the Platte River and is drained by the Big Blue River, Beaver Creek, Lincoln Creek, and Coon Creek. Early settlers hauled water from natural springs, dug wells by hand, or dug ditches to water their crops. Windmills were vital to pumping water for crops, livestock, and household use in the 1920s. Today's farmers use windmills mostly to pump water for livestock. Irrigation wells are pumped with diesel or electric motors.

In the 1920s, York County farmers began to use groundwater for irrigating crops, but it wasn't until the late 1930s that farmers drilled very deep wells and pumped water to the surface with gasoline or diesel powered pumps. Later, farmers used a series of tubes and gates to move water from deep wells to crops in the fields. Today, Nebraska is a leader in the use of center pivot irrigation, pumping water from deep below ground to irrigate crops.


What Is "Groundwater"?
Groundwater is the water found underground in the tiny cracks and spaces between layers of rocks and soil.



Written by Claudia Reinhardt.

The Start of Groundwater Irrigation

Go to:
Machines Farm Life Crops Pests & Weeds Making Money Water World Events
Wessels Living History Farm
Farming in the 1920s
Farming in the 1930s
Farming in the 1940s Farming in the 1950s Farming in the 1970s Learner Resources
Media Resources
Our Founder
About the Farm
Visit the Farm
Contact For photos and primary sources, Nebraska Studies web site.
Search Media

Farmers graphic