THE PRETTIEST DITCH IN TOWN
In 1874, businessmen in Menard, located along the banks of the San Saba River, had a dilemma – how to provide irrigation to 2000 acres of nearby fields and power to local gristmills under one united project. William Vaughn, William Tipton, and James H. Comstock set out to accomplish the task by chartering the Vaughn Agricultural and Mechanical Canal Company that year and, by 1876, water from the San Saba was flowing, via gravity, from 5 miles above Menard to 5 miles below, providing irrigation for farmland and water to turn the gristmill wheels. In 1905, the Menard Irrigation Company took over the canal and has continued to provide irrigation water for over one hundred years. Today, visitors to Menard are able to meander along a segment of this historic rock-lined canal, a route known as the “Ditch Walk”, although the pastoral beauty of the flowing water beneath shady branches, the strategically-placed benches, and the decorative water wheel along the route creates a much prettier stroll than the name implies.