Owens Valley's - Los Angeles Aqueduct  
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owens valley

Unless otherwise note, All L.A. aqueduct photographs on these pages are from the Joseph Barlow Lippincott Papers, LIPP, The Water Resources Center Archives, University of California, Berkeley unless otherwise noted.

See USE NOTICE on Home Page.


Owens Lake looking east from Olancha in 1906
Photo courtesy of the water Resources Center Archives, Orbach Science Library, University of California, Riverside, CA,

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san francisco call
THE VALLEY OF BROKEN HEARTS

By C. E. Kunze
The San Francisco Call - 1924
Part 1
Inyo Farmers Loose Their Fight With the City of Los Angeles
Part 2
The Struggle for Water for the Communities of Owens Valley
Part 3
Tragedy Stalks Owens Valley
Part 4
The Fate of Big Pine Rests with the Water Struggle of Bishop
Part 5
"White Gold" Spells Disaster for the Residents of Owens Valley
Part 8
The History of the Los Angeles Aqueduct

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Photos from the 1916 book "Construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct Final Report"
by the Board of Public Service Commissioners of the City of Los Angeles.

 
owens valley aqueduct
Completed aqueduct with a full Owens Lake in the background


diversion conduit 

Cottonwood Creek diversion conduit with a full Owens Lake in the background


aqueduct
Unlined canal construction - Dipper dredge operated by electric power
aquaduct map
Map of the Los Angeles Aqueduct

aqueduct
Placing concrete lining in open canal

aqueduct

Construction of open-line canal in Owens Valley

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los angeles times
The Los Angeles Times

1924
November
Councilman Alan Seeks Water Facts
1929
Owens Valley Ante Rises

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"Help Promised Owens Valley by the L.A. Board of Water & Power"
by Kenneth Q. Volk & Edgar Alan Rowe


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new
"Civil War Threatened: L.A. Faces Water Famine"
by Andrae B. Nordskog


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new
The Story of Owens River
Page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
by Allen Kellky


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250,460 Acres Of Land Withdrawn From Entry
Executive Order Issued July 16; Local County Authorities
Not Informed of Action

Inyo Independent
Withdrawal of practically all federal lands in southern Inyo county from settlement, location, sale or entry has been effected through an executive order by President Roosevelt, according to communications received by Assessor A. A. Brierly from the General Land Office at San Francisco. The communication was received Sept. 20 and the executive order was dated as long ago as July 16..

The order includes lands surveyed and unsurveyed which are withdrawn subject to all valid existing rights, "in aid of proposed legislation withdrawing the lands for the protection of the water supply of the City of Los Angeles.

Practically all land in townships 12 to 23, incuding the area south of Independence and Lone Pine almost to the county line, and covering territory that drais into the Owens Valley proper, is included. Some land in township 4, and near Independence, also is included in the order.

According to county authorities, no word of this proposed withdrawal was received locally and the order became known here only by accident, although it was placed in effect last July. Correspondence disclosed the information from San Francisco.

The total of more than 200,460 acres of land is withdrawn, it is estimated.

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control pumping

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inyo register
Owens Valey Irrigation District - 1925

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inyo register

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Bishop Water Case Goes to Trial Monday
Superior Judge Jones of Lake County Presides
Inyo Independent - October 1933
Unless some sudden settlement is made by the City of Los Angeles, the case of the Hillside Water Co. and several property owners in and near Bishop vs the City of Los Angeles to halt the latter from pumping water, will go to trial before Superior Judge Benjamin C. Jones of Lake county at the courthouse Moday morning.

To date, no word of any settlement between contesting parties has come to the court's attention, and it is presumed that hearings will begin Monday. The case is of long standing and has been postponed and otherwise delayed several times.

Parties suing the Ciy are: Bishop Union grammar school district, Bishop Union high school district Mr. and Mrs. Robert Schoch, F.V. Craig, A. Burton, Mr. and Mrs. Feige, Mr. and Mrs. Lutz, Mr. and Mrs. B.E. Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Collins, Mr. J. Bradshaw, Mr. and Mrs. J.M. Summers, Mr. and Mrs. O. Kinney, Mr. and Mrs. J.E. Riley, Mr. and Mrs. G.M. Dusenberry, Mr. and MRs. C.W. French, Mr. and Mrs. S.P. Griffith and Hess Lumber Co. Other suits have been filed by the following and consolidated in one: Hillside Water Co., Rosetta McLaren, .C. McLaren, J.F. Brockman, Elma R. Crosby, Allen Matlick, Dora C. Coats, Zelma L. Nelligan, Lula Cox, Ed S. Matlick, Mr. and Mrs. West Amon, Chas F. Matlick, Estate of Andrew Gangler, Stella M. Shepard and Lunsford P. Yandell, Jr.

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san francisco examiner
OWENS RIVER VALLEY

Whitelaw Reid's Opinion as to the Future of the District
San Francisco Examiner - 1886

Upon his return to the East, after visiting this Coast, Whitelaw Reid, publisher of the New York Tribune, gave his impression as to the grand future of Inyo county and Owens river valley as a wine-producing district. He believes that the section is particularly well adapted for grape culture, and those people - Sir Thomas Hesketh and Frank G. Newlands - who are the principal owners in the wine-grape colony scheme, propse to bring the water necessary for irrigation from Owens lake, thirty miles distant. Mr. Reid added further, that as a soda-prodcing district, the Owens lake and environs are already well known.

Only recently the International Immigrant Union of San Francisco secured 20,000 acres of alley land in the neighborhood spoken of by Whitelaw Reid, for Frank G. Newlands, Sir Thomas Hesketh, Fred Sharon and others, and during his last visit to Owens river, Wm. H. Martin, manager of the Immigrant Union, entered over 30,000 acres, the most of which is for settlers who are coming to Califronia this Fall from Eastern States. After he got through with locating the above land, he traveled overland from Owens Valley down, via the west side of Owens lake to Mojave, a distance of about 150 miles, and examined lands along the proposed extension of the Carson and Colorado Railroad to Mojave. He reports over 500,000 acres of good Government land between Keeler and Mojave, all of which will produce anything that can be grown in Los Angeles county, including oranges. It is to be hoped that very soon the railroad, as above proposed, will be completed, as it will give a grand outlet to the East over the Southern Pacific and the Atlantic and Pacific railroads for the products of the farmers and vine growers of Owens river valley.

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Photos & Photocards Courtesy of Rich McCutchan Archives
aqueduct
Los Angeles aqueduct surveyors on bridge overlooking the Owens River.

aqueduct

Los Angeles aqueduct in Owens Valley

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Los Angeles aqueduct in Owens Valley

aqueduct
Los Angeles aqueduct in Owens Valley

aqueduct
Los Angeles aqueduct in Owens Valley

aqueduct
Los Angeles aqueduct in Owens Valley

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Hauling a steam shovel boom across the Owens Valley desert floor.
los angeles aqueduct
Los Angeles Aqueduct under construction in Owens Valley

los angeles aqueduct

Los Angeles Aqueduct under construction in Owens Valley

los angeles aqueduct

Los Angeles Aqueduct under construction in Owens Valley

los angeles aqueduct

10-mule freight team hauling hardware for the Los Angeles aqueduct

los angeles aqueduct

10-mule freight team hauling hardware for the Los Angeles aqueduct.
Teamster "Whistling Dick Wright," 76 years young!

los angeles aqueduct

Boulder Creek Camp - Los Angeles aqueduct construction in Owens Valley.

los angeles aqueduct

"Mechanical Mule" team hauling hardware for the construction of the
Los Angeles aqueduct in Owens Valley.

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OWEN WILL TRY NEW INYO CASES
Governor Designates Judge in Water Right Trials
Ranchers assert City's Wells Lower Water Table
Stipulation Leaves Matter of Demurrers to Bench

Los Angeles Times - April 1925
by A. P Night Wire

BAKERSFIELD, March 31 - Gov. Friend W. Richardson has designated Judge Eerwin W. Owen of Bakersfield to preside at three more trials in Inyo county involving the wagter rights of Inyo farmers and the city of Los Angeles. The Governor wired Judge Owen first and asked him if he would accept the designation. Judge Owen's single word response was "yes."

At this time four other Inyo county cases have been set for trial at Independence on the 21st inst. they will follow in order with Judge Owen sitting as arbiter.

SIMILAR TO FIRST


The Governor's designation, announced by Judge Owen today, was for three additional cases. The plaintiffs are Mary McGann, on one action; Peter McGann on another, and Sharpless et al on the third, all against the city of Los Angeles.

The burdens of the separate complaints are similar in purport to one already settled by Judge Owen in favor of the defendant city of Los Angeles last winter.

The land involved in the separate action is situated in the Owens River watershed. The plaintiffs assert Los Angeles engineers in drilling new wells to augment the supply of water flowing into the great 200-mile aqueduct supplying the souther city are lowering the water plane in the valley, thus decreasing the local supply of water.

STIPULATION FILED


The plaintiff farmers allege that the new wells are draining off the very sustenance of their lives, water, which makes their crops possible, and without which they face ruin.

On the other hand, the Los Angeles attorneys are battling for the water supply of their city. The slender artery stretching 200 miles across the desert into Inyo county must be constantly replenished with water.

Unusual in the last three Inyo cases designated by the Governor is the stipulation of opposing counsel leaving the matter of the interposed demurrer wholly up to Judge Owen. This ruling will debar all further action. Judge Owen in his law chambers here will arbitrate the final issues.


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Cryptic Sucide Message Left by O.E. Howard
Commits Suicide in Front of Funeral Parlors

Inyo Independent - November 1933
Leaving a cryptic message to his family, O.E. Howard, field agent for the City of Los Angeles in Bishop drove in front of the Albright Funeral Parlors in Bishop yesterday morning at 9:35 and shot and killed himself. The pistol shot pierced his heart and death was immediate.

He left but a brief message, telling where his insurance papers might be found and closed with these terse words, "A square man should not get mixed up with the City of Loas Angeles."

Word of his suicide was received here from W. J. Land yesterday morning at 10:07 o'clock.

Mr. Howard had been in the employ of the city for five years, having come here through the interest and effort of Mr. Porter.

It had been reported that he was despondent over general conditions and was to be supplanted in his position. A year ago last August he was severely injured in an auto accident when his car went over the Rock Creek grade. He had seemed to be in good health since his recovery and was unusually cheerful Wednesday.

He leaves a wife and four children, a son enrolled at Redlands University; a son and daughter in Bishop high school and a baby daughter.

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  "A Message from Owens Valley - The Valley of Broken Hearts"
by Owens Valley Property Owners Protective Association Sacramento Union - 1927
get acrobat

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Detail 1, Detail 2
Mule team hauling machinery for the construction of the Los Angeles aqueduct.
[photo courtesy of highpricespaid.com]

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san francisco call
BUILDER OF NEW ROAD ARRIVES FROM SOUTH

F. S. Edinger Tells of Construction Work on Southern Pacific Cutoff
The San Francisco Call - 02 August 1908

F. S. Edlnger, vice president and general manager of the Shattuck-Edinger construction company, whois building the road from Mojave to Owens Lake for the Southern Pacific, said yesterday:
"We have completed 45 miles of the road out of 139 to be built, and the work wlll be finished in 14 months. We have a long tunnel, some 4,500 feet ahead of us, and we are now engaged in building a temporary track over the mountain, so as not to delay construction. This tunnel is at El Paso pass and will take 400 days to complete. The road. will be a high speed one and will be the short route east from Los Angeles. It is the intention, I understand, of the company to connect the road with the narrow gauge, that comes south as far as Keeler. That road will be standardized.

"No, we have not as yet received that contract. This new line will be a splendid property, as it is being solidly built with heavy rail, and the grade is easy, about 4 percent being the steepest. We consider we did some pretty smart railroad building. Our first contract was for 23 miles of line. We got the contract, on April 27, and on May 7 had 800 head of stock and 400 men on hand and completed 23 miles by May 30, and in order to do that removed 300,000 yards of dirt."


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Why Not Settle the Matter?
Commits Suicide in Front of Funeral Parlors

Inyo Independent - November 1933
According to publicity material released by the Los Angeles City department of water ad power to metropolitan district newspapers, the recent Southern Sierras purchase, along with optioned lands to be bought, bings the city into ownership of what they term "98 percent of the water bearing lands in Mono Basin."

Practically the same small ration of lands remain privately owned in Inyo county, most of which are incorporated in the present water suit against the city.

With such a small proportion of lands left unpurchased in both counties, it seems strange that the City does not execute its purchase rights, clear up the matter once and for all, and settle a dispute of many years standing.

According to our informants, the purchase price asked by remaining land owners is not unreasonable.

In the same publicity release to city papers, department officials declare that acquisition of Mono lands gives the city an adequate supply of water until Colorado river water is available. That being true, then the interesting question follows: What will the city do with Inyo-Mono water when the Metropolitan aqueduct is completed? By the city's own declaration, Colorado River water will be more than enough to meet ciy needs for many, many years to come.

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STEP TAKEN BY VALLEY TO COLLECT
Owens Valley Residents Organzie Association to Deal with Los Angeles

SACRAMENTO, June 10. - The first step was taken today by the residents of Owens Valley, Inyo county, to avail themselves of the new law enacted by the last Legislature, which enables Los Angeles legally to reimburse the property owners tor damages caused by the appropriation of waters of the Owens River for domestic purposes, when articles of !ncorporation of the Owens Valley Reparatlons Association were filed with Secretary of State Jordan.

Senator Inman and Assemblyman West, who, with Dist.-Atty. Hession of Inyo county, are attorneys for the association, filed the papers. Headquarters of the corporation is in Bishop.

Inman declared that it is proposed to have all property owners with a claim against Los Angeles for asserted damages as the result of the water controversy to assign their claims to the associat!on which, in turn, wlll seek to settle with Los Angeles city, either by arbitration or in the courts. He estimates there are 1000 claims totaling between $2,000,000 and $4,000,000.

The directors of the association are J. S. Eastman, S. H. Ayers, T. F. Hutchinson, F. H. Arcularius and T. G. Watterson, all of Bishop.

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Photo courtesy of the water Resources Center Archives, Orbach Science Library, University of California, Riverside, CA, unless otherwise noted.
All photos circa 1908

cottonwood siphon

Laying the Cottonwood siphon on a steep hillside - 1908

cottonwood siphon

Laying the Cottonwood siphon - 1908

alabama hills

Open canal in the Alabama Hills - 1912

steam shovel
Steam shovel excavating the canal in the Alabama Hills - 1912

alabama hills
Steam shovel excavating the canal in the Alabama Hills - 1912

alabama hills

Model 60 steam shovel excavating the canal in the Alabama Hilla - 1911

alabama hills
Open canal in the Alabama Hills, 33 ft across / 12 ft deep - 1912

alabama hills section

Alabama Hills section of the aqueduct. Steam shovel No. 12

cottonwood conduit

Cottonwood conduit showing forms - 1907

cottonwood conduit

Beginning of the Cottonwood conduit showing the end of the siphon - 1908

conduit covers

Covers lined up for placing on the Cottonwood conduit - 1908

cottonwood conduit

Cottonwood conduit showing forms in place - 1908

cementing the conduit
Placing cement on the Cottonwood conduit - 1908
cottonwood creek
Cottonwood Creek crossing the Los Angeles Aqueduct - 1912

black rock springs

Black Rock Springs, Owens Valley - 1907
cottonwood sawmill
Colonel Sherman Stevens sawmill on Cottonwood Creek - 1908

cottonwood creek
Cottonwood Creek near the diversion dam - 1907
sierra nevada
The Sierra Nevada near Diaz Lake, Lone Pine, CA - 1912

freighting team

Freighting team in Owens Valley - 1907

crossing shepherds creek

Crossing Shepherds Creek near Independence, CA - 1906

tuttle creek

Flooding from Tuttle Creek, Lone Pine, CA - 1906
stream gauging
Stream gauging on Owens River - 1909

owens valley

Diversion canal in Owens Valley - 1906

regulating gates

Owens Valley Los Angeles Aqueduct regulating gates

intake gates

Owens Valley Los Angeles Aqueduct intake gates under construction - 1912

inspection team

Inspection trip of Board of Engineers in Owens Valley - 1906
opening intake gates
Opening the head gates to the Los Angeles aqueduct in Owens Valley 1913

owens valley dredge

Floating dredge in Owens Valley- 1912

owens river

Owens River at the diversion point - meandering through Owens Valley - 1906

oak creek

Oak Creek crossing 1907

owens river

Owens River at the aqueduct diversion point between
Independence and Big Pine - 1906


owens river

Owens River below all diversions - 1906
cottonwood construction camp
Cottonwood construction camp - 1907

owens river
Owens River below all diversions at Independence bridge - 1906

cottonwood creek
Cottonwood Creek area

digging machine
Digging machine in Owens Valley - 1913

dredge
Dredge No. 4 in main canal in Owens Valley - 1908
gauging the Owens River
Gauging across the Owens River - 1907

artesian well

Artesian well near the Los Angeles aqueduct in Owens Valley.
That is the "best well but has a small flow."
control gates
Control gates near the intake of L.A. aqueduct above Independence, CA - 1913

crossing rock creek
Crossing Rock Creek near Tom's Place in Owens Valley - winter 1906
dredge
Dredge No. 1 in Owens Valley - 1908

downers camp
Enroute to Downers Camp - Owens Valley - 1907

east side canal
East Side Canal - Owens Valley - 1907

loading traction engine on flat car

Loading the Traction Engine on the SP flat car at Owenyo - 1909

men in tent

Aqueduct works camped out in Owens Valley 1907

mess house

Men in mess house - 1908

portable houses

Portable houses for aqueduct workers - 1908

wildison store
Wildison's Store - Mammoth Mountain area - 1907

cement mixer
Cement mixer in Owens Valley - 1912

planning the aqueduct

Engineers planning the L.A. Aqueduct to Owens Valley - 1903.
(L-R) John R. Freeman, Joseph D. Schuyler, J.B. Lippincott, Fred P. Stearns,
William Mulholland


aqueduct
Completed aqueduct section in Owens Valley

pouring concrete
Pouring concrete on the floor of the aqueduct in Owens Valley

dredge
Dredge #1 in Owens Valley - 1908

Dredge
Dredge No. 4 excavating the main canal in Owens Valley - 1909

dredge
Dredge No. 1 in Owens Valley - 1908

hauling cement
Tramming cement for the Cottonwood conduit with "burro power" - 1908

owens river
Owens River north of Independence

bishop
Downtown Bishop, CA - 1929

owens river
Owens River winding its way through Owens Valley

regulating gate
Regulating gates on main canal in Owens Valley - 1912

transformer
Transformer float for Dredge No. 4l in Owens Valley - 1909

water in the canal
Water flowing into the canal in Owens Valley - 1912
cottonwood power plant
Completed Cottonwood power plant

roberts ranch

Roberts ranch in Long Valley - 1906


eaton ranch branding
Branding at Eaton's Ranch - 1907

cottonwood creek
Cottonwood Creek flowing towards Owens Lake - 1906

cottonwood conduit
Mixing and placing concrete in the Cottonwood conduit - 1908

alabama hills
Alabama Hills development tunnel - 1906

cottonwood conduit

Hoisting apparatus for Cottonwood conduit construction - 1908

shops in bishop
Downtown Bishop - 1929

Photo Description Reads: The City of Los Angeles, which on April 11, 1929, had already invested more than $18,000,000 in Owens Valley land purchases, will lease back to the original owners all the properties it buys, merely holding water rights to provide control of the watershed which supplies the Los Angeles Aqueduct, it was announced. Here are some properties on a street in Bishop which may be purchased.
blacks store in Bishop
J. D. Blacks "Cash Store" in Bishop, CA - 1930s

construction camp
Aqueduct construction camp near Big Pine - 1912.

threshing machine
Threshing machine in Bishop- circa 1920

aqueduct
Completed Los Angeles aqueduct between Independence and Big Pine - 1912

cottonwood waste gate
Wastegates at Cottonwood Creek - 1912

dredge #1
Dredge #1 in Owens Valley - 1908

cottonwood power house
Inside the Cottonwood Powerhouse - 1909

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Photographs courtesy of the Library of Congress American Memory Project

alabama gates
Alabama Gates on the L.A. Aqueduct - 2001

alamamba gates
Alabama Gates on the L.A. Aqueduct - 2001

cottonwood power plant
Inside the Cottonwood Powerhouse on Cottonwood Creek

cottonwood power plant
Inside the Cottonwood Powerhouse on Cottonwood Creek

alabama gates
Spillway at the Alabama Gates on the L.A. Aqueduct - 2001
alabama gates
Alabama Gates on the L.A. Aqueduct - 2001

aqueduct
Los Angeles Aqueduct near Lone Pine - 2001

big pine diversion canal
Illegal Big Pine Diversion Canal - cut by city of Los Angeles employees
This photograph is probably of the site where, in August 1924, Big Pine residents threatened violence against Los Angeles city employees to stop their illegal diversion of water from the Big Pine Canal for city use. This attempted, and illegal diversion of water to the city of Los Angeles, symbolized to Big Pine residents the injustice of Los Angeles' actions in their valley. These actions undermined the source of their prosperity. A resident of Big Pine and leader of resistance against Los Angeles, J. D. Black used this photograph to document the actions of Los Angeles in the Owens Valley

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Aqueduct Canal Construction Photos
aqueduct
Woman on aqueduct intake in Owens Valley
aqueduct
L.A. Aqueduct construction in Owens Valley


aqueduct

Freighting team in Owens Valley - circa 1907

aqueduct

L.A. Aqueduct in Owens Valley
aqueduct
Owens River intake into the L.A. Aqueduct in Owens Valley

aqueduct

L.A. Aqueduct workers camp.

Photo from the 1916 book "Construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct Final Report"
by the Board of Public Service Commissioners of the City of Los Angeles.

aqueduct

L.A. Aqueduct surveyors

aqueduct

L.A. Aqueduct workers camp.

aqueduct

L.A. Aqueduct workers camp.

aqueduct

Car in Owens Valley - circa 1907

aqueduct

L.A. Aqueduct workers in Owens Valley

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division creek power plant
Division Creek power plant and aqueducte worker housing southwest of Aberdeen
(Photo courtesy of Inyo County Sesquicentennial)
 

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20-Mule-Team History  

Manzanar Internment Camp Portraits, History etc.  

More Owens Valley Aqueduct Portraits & History

 

 Mt. Whitney Pack Trains 1950s Brochure

 

 Bessie Brady Steamer


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This page was last updated on 18 October 2019