Wheatland rancher Juan Reyes will be the Platte County Historical Society’s special guest speaker on Tuesday, March 26th. The program will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the Platte County Library, and is free and open to the public.
Juan’s topic will be “The Wheatland Irrigation Project: An American Story of Visionaries.” Prior to the irrigation project Wheatland was flat and arid. By 1883 several prominent individuals, including Judge Joseph Carey, Horace Plunkett, Francis E. Warren, Andrew Gilchrist and others, had established the Wyoming Development Company. Their hope was to irrigate the Wheatland Flats and profit from the new development it would create. By that fall they had constructed a 2,380 foot long tunnel to divert water for irrigation into Bluegrass Creek and the first two canals. Today the Wheatland Irrigation District is the largest privately owned irrigation system in the United States.
Juan is an immigrant from Cuba, having come to the United States in 1962 as an 11-year old. He was raised in Washington State and then came to Wyoming where he attended the University of Wyoming. He has always been intrigued by the parallels of his life as a cowboy and rancher, and how his personal experiences and opportunities relate to the Wheatland Irrigation Project. Juan is on the Wheatland Irrigation District board, and last year started the National Cattle Dog Association where he serves as president.
The Platte County Historical Society is a chapter of the Wyoming State Historical Society. Membership includes receiving Annals of Wyoming three times a year, Wyoming History News, notices of special events such as treks to historic sites, award opportunities, and more. Meetings designed to highlight local and state history are held the last Tuesday of every month, and are open to the public. Officers include Linda Fabian, President; Stu Hammersmark, Vice President; Elvira Call, Secretary and Arlene Robbins, Treasurer. Board members are Rick Robbins, Jeannette Chambers, Diana McDonald, Joanie McKee and Barb Schaffner. For more details contact Elvira Call at 322-2205.