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Harriet W.R. Strong

Water Storage and Flood Control

Patent No. 374,378

Harriet Strong received a patent in 1887 for her invention of a system of dams and reservoirs for water storage and flood control. Her system consisted of a series of dams placed in succession so that the water in a lower basin would act as a brace for the dams above. The system also allowed for the collection and saving of water until it was needed. Strong’s legacy as a pioneer and innovator of water irrigation and conservation techniques significantly contributed to the development of Southern California as a major agricultural region.

Following her husband’s death, Strong became the sole owner of an estate in San Gabriel Valley. She managed and developed the land while studying farming methods, horticulture, and water control. She planted prizewinning English walnut trees, oranges, pomegranates, and pampas grass, and drilled artesian wells and installed a pumping plant to sustain the crops. Strong’s innovations in dry land irrigation and techniques in water conservation enabled her crops to provide profitable returns despite being grown on semi-arid land.

Strong was educated at the Young Ladies’ Seminary of Miss Mary Atkins, now Mills College, and was also self-taught. She earned five patents in her lifetime, and her achievements established her as an authority on water control and irrigation. Following her death, two federal projects came to pass, both based on Strong’s pioneering work: the Hoover Dam and the All-American Canal. In 2001, Strong was elected to the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Patent Number

Born: July 23, 1844

Died: September 6, 1926

Dam and Reservoir Construction

Patent No. 374,378

Issued December 6, 1887

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