C.C. Wright - Modesto's Irrigationist Assemblyman

Known as the "father of irrigation," C.C. Wright was a Modesto assemblyman in the California State Legislature who was given a first draft of the bill that allowed the formation of local irrigation districts. He rewrote the bill, which was passed as the Wright Irrigation Act and signed into law on March 7, 1887. In Stories of Stanislaus, Sol P. Elias says that Wright was one of the most prominent attorneys of the valley at the time the Wright Irrigation Act became law. "[He] was one of the foremost agents in the county's development through his efforts to secure irrigation for the central plains. A native of Iowa, he came to the county in early days and secured a position as teacher in the LaGrange schools. While teaching he was admitted to the bar and immediately took high rank as a lawyer and as a public spirited citizen."

A large, enthusiastic crowd greeted Wright when he returned to Modesto after the passage of the Wright Irrigation Law. Elias states: "He had written into the statute law an enactment that in its final analysis meant more for the economic development of the State than any other bill that had ever been adopted by the legislature. The mandate that had been given to him by his consitutents had been observed to the letter and in the spirit in which it was given. His duty had been faithfully performed."

Later, however, as litigation over the formation of the irrigation districts began "and threatened to continue interminably and to wreck the hopes of the irrigation pioneers, there was much personal antagonism manifested toward the author of the law."

In the latter years of his life, C.C. Wright's name was constantly mentioned with honor and praise by those who had formerly so bitterly assailed him. He possessed positive convictions, and the moral courage to adhere to them in the face of opposing forces. Ill health caused his removal to Los Angeles in 1889 where he practiced law until his death in 1906. - Stories of Stanislaus, Sol P. Elias

Link: The Pacific Rural Press, 1887, Wright's Irrigation Bill

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