The backbone of survival in the west for the early settlers and pioneers was the development of irrigation canals. As soon as the Mormons arrived in the Salt Lake valley they immediately hoed a few rows of ground and planted some seed potatoes, then diverted water from the local creek to irrigate their crop. It was necessary to grow food to live on in their settlements so far from civilization.
One of the first things to do when moving into an area was to built a fort for protection against the Native Americans, then irrigation canals were carefully surveyed by primitive instruments to run by gravity flow from their source in nearby mountain canyon streams to the fields used to grow crops and support livestock. Most early towns had an irrigation company that everyone was required to join and work on in order to use the water for their fields and households.
Water was the lifeblood of the west because of the arid climate and lack of rainfall. Without some means of diverting the natural streams into canals and ditches, no crops would grow in this high desert. There was always the danger of sudden downpours or flash floods that washed away dams and irrigation ditches as well as any homes built too close. Many carefully hand dug trenches were swept away by sudden summer downpours or flash floods; then the process of surveying and digging by hand was begun all over again.
Humble log cabins had irrigation canals running through their lot where the family would take a bucket and carefully hand water any trees planted to give needed shade or fruit for eating. Women loved to grow flowers to beautify their home. Without a hand dug well, the canals provided the only water for household use.
Nowadays we take for granted running water and hot water. It would have been truly a luxury for our ancestors. Although my grandmother had running water into her house in pipes, she still had to carry the used household water out by hand and use an outhouse located behind her home. Washing hands was accomplished with a pitcher and a basin bowl. Weekly baths were allowed once a week with the scarce water. Nowadays we have built huge concrete dams, massive pipelines and water treatment plants to supply us with clean water, that we unfortunately take for granted.