Marcus Daly, wealthy copper king, arrived in the Bitter Root Valley in 1887. He acquired an extensive estate, built a considerable mansion, and founded the town of Hamilton, which he named after one of his foremen. His arrival marked the expansion of irrigation activities in the valley. He enlarged and expanded the already existing Hedge Irrigation Ditch, and bought the Republican Irrigation Ditch. He also built a canal from the Bitterroot River to lands near Hamilton, reclaiming thousands of acres of bench land on the west side of the valley. He developed plans to extend the irrigation system to the east side of the valley as well, however, his death on November 12, 1900, halted those plans.
The Republican Ditch was originally constructed by the Republican Ditch Company prior to the year 1885 and in 1907 was conveyed to the Ravalli Land and Irrigation Company and by it deeded to the State Water Conservation Board on October 1, 1942.
The Ward, Skalkaho Hi-Line and Hedge Ditches were constructed for the most part by the late Marcus Daly. After his death, the right-of-ways and water rights were conveyed to the Ravalli Land and Irrigation Company on December 20, 1901. From that company, the ditches were conveyed to the State Water Conservation Board on October 1, 1942
In 1979, a statute was enacted directing the DNRC to abandon or transfer the Daly Ditch Water Project by December 31, 1982. On December 17, 1982 Daly Ditches Irrigation District was declared a public corporation for the promotion of public welfare.