Irrigation pioneer Burlingame to be portrayed


Fort Walla Walla Museum, 755 Myra Road, will hold a Living History presentation at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The Burlingame Ditch was completed in 1905 to carry water for irrigation and it still is in operation today. The man who designed and built that ditch, Ed Burlingame and his wife Elizabeth, will be at the Museum to tell their story. Tom Williams portrays irrigation pioneer Edward Copeland Burlingame and Jill Zagelow plays Elizabeth "Lizzie" Robson, Burlingame's second wife.

In 1893, Burlingame, a veteran of irrigation efforts in Yakima and Benton Counties, arrived in Walla Walla to inspect the plans for an ambitious irrigation project and stayed to dig the ditch that bears his name today. The Burlingame Ditch, as it was called, turned more than 5,000 acres of sagebrush into productive farmland. More than 100 years after its completion, the Burlingame Ditch still conveys water by gravity within its earthen banks from the Walla Walla River to the arid lands of the Gardena bench.

Burlingame lived to see the 11/2-mile wooden-stave siphon he built across the Pine Creek valley replaced with steel pipe. Through financial successes and reverses, Lizzie Burlingame tended the family home in Walla Walla, raising the children during her husband's frequent and prolonged absences.

Museum hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Admission is $7 adults; $6 seniors 62 and up and students; $3 children 6-12; free for under 6.

For more information, call 525-7703, or visit


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