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History of CAID

CAID and Kendrick Project History


CAID is made up of approximately 23,000 acres of land, all of which are in Natrona County, Wyoming. It is situated along the north and west sides of the North Platte River between Alcova Dam and the City of Casper. The district was formed with the United States Bureau of Reclamation's (USBR) development of the Kendrick Project (which was known as the "Casper-Alcova Project" until 1937). 

These lands are sometimes referred to as the "First Unit" of the Kendrick Project. Developers initially contemplated irrigating 35,000 acres and a "Second Unit" of 31,000 acres. 

The Kendrick Project was permitted in 1934, with water deliveries to landowners beginning in 1946. Project facilities store and convey irrigation water and generate hydroelectric power. The major components of the Kendrick Project include Seminole Dam and Reservoir, Seminole Power Plant, Alcova Dam and Reservoir, Alcova Power Plant, the Casper Canal, and laterals, through which water is conveyed to CAID Lands. Alcova Dam was constructed between 1935 and 1938. Seminoe Dam and Power Plant were constructed between 1936 and 1939, and the Alcova Power Plant began producing electricity in 1955.

USBR has integrated its operations of the Kendrick Project facilities with those of the North Platte Project and the Kortes and Glendo Unit facilities of the Pick-Sloan Missouri River Basin Program. 

CAID's primary irrigation components as related to the Kendrick Project as Seminoe Reservoir, Alcova Reservoir, the diversion at the Casper Canal intake at Alcova Reservoir, the Casper Canal, and the laterals and sub-laterals used for conveying water to end users. Seminar Reservoir is one of the largest storage facilities on the North Platte River in Wyoming and is located upstream of Pathfinder Reservoir. It is administered by USBR, primarily to provide storage of irrigation water and for the subsequent generation of electricity. Seminoe has a total permitted storage capacity of 1,026,360 acre-feet of water. The dam is a concrete-arch structure 295 feet in height.

Alcova Dam and Reservoir, located approximately 10 miles downstream of Pathfinder Dam, serve as the diversion for the Casper Canal, which conveys irrigation water to the Kendrick Project irrigators - those lands located within the boundaries of CAID. Alcova Reservoir has a permitted storage capacity of 184,295 acre-feet. Alcova also serves as the forebay for the Alcova Power Plant. 

The Bureau of Reclamation would try to harness the river, approving three separate projects to do so: first the North Platte Project (1905), then the Kendrick Project, originally the Casper-Alcova Project (1935), and finally the Pick-Sloan Missouri River Basin Program (1944).  The Kendrick Project is the only one of three designed to serve the Casper-Alcova area specifically with much-needed irrigation and the added benefit of hydropower.



The Kendrick Project (formerly the Casper-Alcova Project) conserves the waters of the North Platte River for irrigation and electric power generation. Major features of the project are Seminoe Dam and Powerplant, Alcova Dam and Powerplant, the Casper Canal and laterals, and drainage and power distribution systems. About 24,000 acres of irrigable project lands lie in an irregular pattern on the northwest side of the North Platte River between Alcova and Casper, Wyoming

. Some features of the North Platte Project and the Kortes Unit of the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program are interspersed along the North Platte River with features of the Kendrick Project, and these features operate together in the control of the river waters.


Early History: In the early days of Western settlement, the main route for immigrants and traders was along the Platte and Sweetwater Rivers, crossing the Continental Divide at South Pass. Such well known trails as the Oregon, Mormon, Overland, and California, and the Pony Express, followed this route. Many stage stations, trading posts, and army forts were scattered along the trails. Fort Laramie and Fort Casper have been restored for their historical value. With the advent of the railroad in the late 1860's, these trails began to disappear.

The area was first used as an open range, followed by homesteading, and then by irrigation farming. The general area is also rich in oil and mineral resources, which have played an important part in the development of the State.

Investigations: In 1904, the Reclamation Service first investigated lands now included in the Kendrick Project in connection with a plan to build the Casper Canal, one of several irrigation ditches along the North Platte River. In December 1904, application for a permit authorizing the desired water appropriation for this canal was made, but no further action was taken. Until 1933, the lands now included in the Kendrick Project remained part of the open range used by the sheep ranchers in the area. In that year, however, as a result of further investigations by the Bureau of Reclamation, the Public Works Administration allocated funds to develop irrigation and hydroelectric power facilities on the North Platte River in the vicinity of Casper, Wyoming.

Authorization: The Kendrick Project was authorized by a finding of feasibility approved by the President on August 30, 1935. The Alcova Power Plant was authorized for construction on August 22, 1950, under the provisions of section 9(a) of the Reclamation Project Act of 1939. Originally known as Casper-Alcova, the project was renamed Kendrick in 1937.


Seminoe Dam was constructed during 1936-39, and the first delivery of power from the powerplant was made on August 3, 1939. Construction of Alcova Dam was started in 1935 and completed in 1938. The first irrigation water was diverted into the Casper Canal on June 14, 1946. Alcova Powerplant started power production in July 1955.

Operating Agency: The Bureau of Reclamation operates all power facilities, Seminoe Dam and Reservoir, and Alcova Dam and Reservoir. All carriage, distribution, and drainage works are operated by the Casper-Alcova Irrigation District. The Wyoming Recreation Commission administers a portion of the Seminoe recreation areas; the Natrona County Parks and Pleasure Grounds administers the recreation areas at Alcova Reservoir. Grazing areas at Seminoe are administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission administers the Morgan Creek drainage area for wildlife.


Irrigation: Water was first delivered to 14 farms irrigating 600 acres in 1946. Settlement has progressed steadily, and in 1980 a total of 22,581 acres were irrigated on 64 full-time and 398 part-time farms. Principal crops are alfalfa, small grains, and irrigated pasture.

Hydroelectric Power: All electric energy is marketed through the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program's integrated system.

Recreation: Alcova Reservoir and its surrounding lands provide excellent water-oriented recreation facilities. Recreational activities include camping, water skiing, boating, fishing, picnicking, and hiking. Seminoe Reservoir and its surrounding areas provide recreation opportunities like those of Alcova Reservoir, although the development of facilities is not as extensive and public access is not available to a large portion of the reservoir lands. The reservoirs are stocked with fish by the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.


The project is a multiple-purpose development that involves storage at Seminoe Reservoir and diversion at Alcova Dam to project lands. Operation of the reservoirs and power plants is integrated with other river basin developments.

Seminoe Dam and Power Plant: Seminoe Dam and Power Plant are on the North Platte River about 72 miles southwest of Casper, Wyoming. Seminoe Reservoir, with a total capacity of 1,017,279 acre-feet, provides storage capacity for the water to irrigate the project lands. The power plant generates electric power as the water is released for irrigation or stored in Pathfinder Reservoir for later release as required. The dam is a concrete-arch structure containing 210,000 cubic yards of concrete and rising 295 feet above the rock foundation. Water is released from the reservoir through penstocks to the Seminoe Power Plant, or over a controlled spillway and outlet tunnel. The power plant is located at the base of the dam and has a rated head of 166 feet. The plant contains three units, each composed of a 15,000-kilowatt generator driven by a 20,800-horsepower turbine.

Alcova Dam and Power Plant: Alcova Dam is on the North Platte River about 37 miles downstream from Seminoe Dam and 10 miles downstream from Pathfinder Dam of the North Platte Project. The dam forms a reservoir from which water is diverted into Casper Canal for irrigation of lands in the Kendrick Project. The dam is a zoned earth fill structure rising 265 feet above its foundation and containing 1,635,000 cubic yards of material. Water is released for other irrigation rights downstream through the Alcova Power Plant or over a controlled spillway. Alcova Power Plant was authorized and built after the completion of Alcova Dam. It is on the right bank of the river opposite the toe of the dam.

The plant uses the 165-foot drop from the reservoir to the river for power generation. It consists of two units, each an 18,000-kilowatt vertical-shaft generator driven by a 26,500-horsepower turbine. The reservoir has a total capacity of 184,405 acre-feet, of which only the top 30,606 acre-feet is active capacity available for irrigation.

Casper Canal and Distribution System: The irrigation distribution system for the existing unit (unit 1) consists of the Casper Canal, 59 miles long; 190 miles of laterals and sub laterals; and 41 miles of drains. Principal structures include the headgates located on Alcova Reservoir about I mile west of the dam; six concrete-lined tunnels having a total length of 3.4 miles; several siphons, and highway and farm road bridges; and many measuring and control structures. The main canal has a capacity of 1,200 cubic feet per second.

Power Transmission System: The power transmission system carries the energy generated at the hydroelectric power plants to load centers in Wyoming, western Nebraska, and northern Colorado, and to interconnections with other Bureau of Reclamation power systems. The Kendrick Project power transmission system consists of 572.8 circuit miles of transmission lines and 6 substations and switchyards.

Settlement of Project Lands

For the Kendrick Project, Reclamation withdrew 66,000 irrigable acres.  That amount was divided into two units, one of 35,000 acres and the second of 31,000 acres, but only the first unit was constructed.  A maximum of 160 acres in one ownership was eligible for irrigation service until an amended contract of September 4, 1957.  Because 48% of Project lands were not yet sold, an exception was made to Reclamation policy to increase the maximum acres to be irrigated in one ownership from 160 acres to 480 acres, thereby encouraging sale of the lands for development.  All project lands that are served by the Casper Canal are administered by the Casper-Alcova Irrigation District (except for grazing lands around Seminoe Reservoir administered by the Bureau of Land Management) which is also responsible for operation and maintenance of the Project. Construction charges are $80.00 per irrigable acre paid over 40 years without interest; in addition, landowners are required to meet the cost of operation and maintenance of the irrigation service.

Uses of Project Water

Irrigation is the primary purpose of the Kendrick Project via the Casper Canal heading at Alcova Dam.  In 1960, the average delivery at each farm headgate was approximately 2.5 acre-feet per acre.  Farmers harvested crops in 1960 on 19,759 acres with a gross crop value of $47.30 per acre; in 1977, 22,894 acres yielded a gross crop value of $112.37 per acre; in 1992, 22,808 acres had a gross crop value of $114.24 per acre.  There are currently 300 farms served, with a total population of 650, by the Kendrick Project.  On a total acreage of 24,265 available for irrigation service in 1992, major crops include barley (494 acres), oats (1,902 acres), alfalfa (9,559 acres), grass hay (3,277 acres), irrigated pasture (1,371 acres), and fertilizer production (1,433 acres).

Both the Alcova Dam and the Seminoe Dam have powerplants that provide hydropower, though only Seminoe Dam was built expressly for that purpose.  Alcova Power Plant (completed in 1955) has two generators capable of producing 36,000 kilowatts and Seminoe Powerplant (completed in 1939) has three generators capable of producing 17,000 kilowatts of power. There are six substations in the Project and 13 transmission lines that run 572.8 miles.    The Bureau of Reclamation generates power at Seminoe and Alcova Powerplants.  Power generation is coordinated through the Pick-Sloan Missouri River Basin Transmission Division.   Marketing and distribution are handled through the Western Area Power Administration.

In 1982, the City of Casper, the Casper-Alcova Irrigation District, and the Bureau of Reclamation entered a 15-year contract in which 7,000 acre-feet of water would be provided to the City of Casper in exchange for the City of Casper’s making improvements to the district’s distribution system.  The Soil Conservation Service was also enlisted to assist in making improvements to the distribution system.  The municipal and industrial water supplements the City of Casper’s water needs.

Alcova and Seminoe Reservoirs provide recreational services to the residents of Natrona and Carbon Counties.  Camping, boating, fishing, and picnicking are all available to visitors on warm, sunny summer days.  For those who indulge in fly-fishing, the Miracle Mile lies on the North Platte between Seminoe Dam and Pathfinder Reservoir.  Blue Ribbon Trout play just under the waters’ surface, enticing fishermen from all over to test the waters.  Thanks to Reclamation’s efforts to stabilize the North Platte, these trout are some of the largest caught in the world of freshwater fishing.  Alcova and Seminoe Reservoirs also help control flooding of the North Platte during particularly moist years and supply reserve water in dry years, thereby regulating the flow of the river to maintain normal levels for both irrigation and wildlife. Recreational facilities are administered by Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Natrona County Parks and Pleasure Grounds, the Wyoming Department of Commerce, and the State Parks and Historic Sites Department.  Total visitation to the Reservoirs annually was 106,404 persons for Alcova and 195,177 persons for Seminoe in 1992.[27]


Although the Kendrick Project overlaps both the North Platte Project and the Pick-Sloan Missouri River Basin Program, it is unique in that of the three projects it is the only one to provide irrigation and power to the local areas of Casper and Alcova.  But together with the other two projects, it commands control over the North Platte River for the benefit of farming and industry in Wyoming.

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