This book illuminates the myriad personalities and interests that combined and clashed over the Pecos Valley reservoirs and canals. Many Americans, including western lawmakers, considered irrigation to be America at its best. Wealthy easterners invested in its development in the great traditions of American capitalism. Farmers laboring side by side to transform the desert into productive cropland represented the ideals of Jeffersonian yeoman democracy. These people, and the change of the Pecos Valley from rustic cattle territory to towns and irrigated farmland, form the framework for this rich story of the American West. Today the once formidable Pecos River has become a mere shadow of its former self. Dammed in many places for irrigation, its springs pumped dry in others, the Pecos leads a precarious existence. Yet the contest over its water—within New Mexico and between New Mexico and Texas through the Pecos River Compact—continues.