The Death of the Owens Valley 
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 Water Wars
A KNX Los Angeles special report.

(Click on the picture to hear the report.
If it doesn't play, and you want to hear the report, send me an e-mail and I will send the file to you )


 The Despoiler

The Concessionaire

The Betrayer 

 William Mulholland

 Teddy Roosevelt

 Fred Eaton

William Mulholland
(1855 - 1935)

Theodore Roosevelt
(1858 - 1919)

Fred Eaton
(1856 - 1934)

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Owens Valley Aqueduct

 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
o
r public domain archival files.

 A note from the web site master.

I must admit that I am a bit sensitive when it comes to this particular topic of water and Owens Valley. Having worked in the valley as a packer for Mt. Whitney Pack Trains for a number of years, in the 1960s - 1970s, I was able to experience first hand what a nearly complete lack of water will do to such an otherwise majestic area. It is even more disturbing when you realize that there is all of this water draining off of the adjacent mountains into Owens Valley. It is not enough that the valley's mountain water is siphoned off and sent to Los Angeles, but so is a great deal of its ground water. In a valley where once there were rich farm lands with a thriving agricultural business and a lake 20 miles in length there is now only a memory and an ever present alkali dust cloud. If you remember the movie Ben Hur you'll remember a quote which Pontius Pilate made to Judah Ben Hur just after Judah defeated Masalla in one of the greatest chariot races of all time: "Where there is greatness, great government or power, even great feeling or compassion, error also is great. We progress and mature by fault." The Owens Valley Aqueduct is, without question, one of the greatest engineering marvels of all time, for that, Mulholland should have received much more recognition than he ever did; however, whether or not the aqueduct should have ever been built and the political chicanery involved with its construction is an entirely different matter. Since I readily admit my bias in the matter, I encourage you to read and investigate the other sources I have referenced and link to throughout these few pages. They represent all view points.

Your viewpoints are welcomed in either my guest book or by e-mailing me below.

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   "Myth, History and Water in the Eastern Sierra"[pdf]
by Abraham Hoffman
Abraham's e-mail: hoffmaaz@lavc.edu

"Dedicating the Aqueduct Cascade"[pdf]
by Abraham Hoffman


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Portraits of one of the greatest engineering geniuses of our time and who, along with Fred Eaton, robbed Owens Valley of its greatest natural resource.
William Mulholland

 Mulholland1

 Mulholland2

 Mulholland3

Photographs courtesy of the Joseph Barlow Lippincott Papers, LIPP, The Water Resources Center Archives,
University of California, Berkeley.
 

aquaduct
Lining the aqueduct
LIPP 141:304

camp 
Workers camp
LIPP 141:107
hauling pipe
 Hauling pipe sections into place


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 new
  "The Owens River Valley"[pdf]
by Fred Eaton

(Article courtesy of Hal Eaton)
get acrobat

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Lippincott, Eaton, Mulholland
The unholy triumvirate
L/R: Joseph B. Lippincott, Fred A. Eaton, and William Mulholland
(1906 Los Angeles Times Photo)
waterboard
Los Angeles Board of Water Commissioners at the
time of the aqueduct's approval
L/R: John J. Fay, J.M. Elliott, Moses H. Sherman, William Mead, Fred L. Baker



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la aqueduct

Construction of the LA Aqueduct Part 1

Construction of the LA Aqueduct Part 2

Construction of the aqueduct from Owens Valley to Los Angeles began in the first decade of the 20th century. It was considered one of the engineering marvels of the era, rivaling the Panama Canal. The movie "Chinatown" is based on the project but reset in the 1930s.. The movie version is highly fictionalized but well worth the viewing.



 mojave haul
Hauling goods on the Mojave Desert


 52 mule team
52 mule team hauling a section of pipe. 


 alabama hills section
Alabama Hills section of the LA Aqueduct in Owens Valley

 
watterson

Watterson Brothers Bank

Interior view of Inyo County Bank in the days before the bust. Referred to by many as the "Watterson Brothers Bank." From left to right: Mark Q. Watterson, cashier; W.W. Watterson, president; and A.D. Schively.

Los Angeles Aqueduct from Owens Valley to
Los Angeles


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aqueduct workers
Los Angeles Aqueduct Workers - Fellow on the far right with the rifle is Walt Disney
[Photo courtesy of Page Williams]
aqueduct party
Photo when farmers blew up the spillway and took over the Alabama Gates Spillway. Tom Mix was filming in Lone Pine and sent his catering crew and band over to feed and play for the farmers.
[Photo courtesy of Page Williams]

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new
Artbound Special: One Hundred Mules Walking the L.A. Aqueduct"
a KCET special


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Photos & Photocards Courtesy of Rich McCutchan Archives
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 construction crew Owens Valley
los angeles aqueduct
Letter from Willard Bowen to Lilian Buehler
los angeles aqueduct
Los Angeles Aqueduct under construction in Owens Valley
los angeles aqueduct
Auto fleet of Bishop ranchers at the Los Angeles aqueduct - 1924
los angeles aqueduct
Owens Valley "Army of Occupation" on the
Los Angeles aqueduct in Owens Valley
los angeles aqueduct
Los Angeles Aqueduct in 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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Ghosts of the Past 3 - Bruce Morgan's 49ers  

20-Mule-Team History  

Manzanar Internment Camp Portraits, History etc.  

Aubrey Hemming Manzanar Journal  

Another Side of Manzanar  
.

Owens Valley Aqueduct Portraits & History

 

 Mt. Whitney Pack Trains 1950s Brochure

 
 

 Bessie Brady Steamer


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This page was last updated on 27 June 2017