Southern Utah has spectacular scenery, but for pioneers trying to farm in these arid lands, an adequate water supply was an ongoing problem.
This has led to extraordinary water diversion projects, including the Tropic Ditch. Water was diverted from the East Fork of the Sevier River, atop the Paunsaugunt Plateau west of the current location of Bryce Canyon National Park, into the Bryce Valley. Construction began in 1890 and the ditch was completed in 1892. It was built entirely using muscle power, using hand tools and draft animals. It runs east about 10 miles to the town of Tropic, which depends on its water to this day.
To minimize excavation, a critical consideration without earth-moving equipment, natural waterways were used as much as possible. In particular, an ordinarily dry east-draining stream, now called Water Canyon, became an important part of the ditch. Water Canyon runs through what is now Bryce Canyon National Park, but is still in use as it was acquired when the park was established.