Seth Luelling, circa 1907, standing in his field of barley.
We are still growing barley in this same field to this day.
Henderson's grandson, named after Seth Luelling, moved from the Oregon City nursery in 1904 to establish a new farm north of Madras \mAd·riss\ as part of the Homestead Act. Seth's wife Cora and their children grubbed out sagebrush by hand, cleared fields of volcanic rock, and hauled water from a spring in wooden barrels in order to carve out their new home. Life was tough for Madras' first settlers, but the Luellings persevered, raising cattle, wheat, potatoes, and a family of six children. Ellen, one of Seth's daughters, married a local farm boy, Fred Klann.
Early homesteaders to Jefferson County ranched and practiced dry-land farming techniques, with wheat becoming the dominant agricultural commodity in the area by the early 1900s. Despite being one of the most successful dry-land farming areas in Central Oregon, local farmers began to experience a moisture shortage after 1925. Hit hard by the dry-spell, coupled with the arrival of the Great Depression, many farmers left. Those that remained realized that in order to prosper, they needed a reliable source of irrigation water.
Construction on the North Unit Project began on July 21, 1938, but was stalled due to the arrival of World War II. The North Unit canal was completed in 1946 and water was delivered to 17,000 acres during 1946 and 1947. By the spring of 1949, all 50,000 acres were receiving water, quickly transforming the community into a mecca for specialty crops.