The snow-sampling system is an idea of simple genius, invented by a visionary pragmatist. In 1906, James E. Church was an athletic Michigander with a wandering intellect and feet to match. Church was educated in Germany and made his living as a professor of Latin, German, and the fine arts, but his true passions lay in the studies of science and weather. While teaching at the University of Nevada, he established one of the nation’s first high-altitude weather stations, at 10,785 feet on the summit of Mount Rose, the tallest peak in Nevada’s Carson Range. At the time, California and Nevada were engaged in what was described as “a bitter water war” over rights to the Truckee River and Lake Tahoe. Church was among the first to try to understand, before the irrigation season began, how much water could be expected from those critical irrigation sources. His tools, which he invented, were the corer (marketed as, and still called, the “Mount Rose Snow Sampler”), the scale, and “the snow course,” a series of measuring sites that vary by aspect and elevation, exposure, and shade. Taken as a whole, the tools create a critical picture of the coming flood and irrigation season.