Mining engineer Arthur Foote, a transplant from Connecticut, was the first to envision a system of canals and dams that would bring water from the Boise Canyon to farms in the 1880s.
In those days, the federal government didn't fund irrigation projects, so Foote found private investors. He laid the groundwork for an irrigation system, but the project ran out of money.
Twenty-five years and many setbacks later, the system Foote imagined became a reality after the Reclamation Act of 1902 provided funding for Arrowrock and Diversion dams.
Foote, in the meantime, had left Idaho for California, convinced his project was a failure.
Writer and illustrator Mary Hallock Foote, Arthur's wife, wrote about their Idaho travails in her memoir, "A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West."
During their time in the area, the Footes lived in a stone house near Lucky Peak. The house is long gone. There's not much left to see besides a few stones from the house's foundation. The area is mostly popular with dog-walkers and bird-watchers.
Understated as it is, the old site represents a key chapter in the long, frequently tempestuous story of moving water around the West.
The old homesite is in Foote Park at the base of Lucky Peak Dam on the south side of the river, across from Discovery Park.
To get there, cross the dam and follow a road down Lydle Gulch. A split rail fence and small interpretive signs mark where the house stood.
Janet Worthington, as Mary Hallock Foote, presents a first-person narrative about Hallock Foote's pioneer insights into mining-camp life and early ranches: 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 13, Boise Public Library, Hillcrest Branch, 5246 W. Overland Road.
Idaho State University historian Laura Woodworth-Ney presents a program on Mary Hallock Foote, with special exhibits. Members of the Columbian Club will serve tea, 2 to 5:30 p.m., May 17 at the Sesqui-Shop, 1008 W. Main St. in Boise (Hallock Foote was a club founding member).
Boise State scholar Louise Weitman discusses Mary Hallock Foote's "Victorian Gentlewoman" as part of Boise Public Library's "Let's Talk About It" lecture series, 6 p.m., June 13, in the Marion Bingham Room on the Main Library's third floor, 715 S. Capitol Blvd.
Anna Webb: 377-6431