Newspaper and Historical Pioneer
addition to Bill Chalfants editorial contributions in the Inyo
Register, books such as The Story of Inyo; Death Valley:
the Facts; Gold, Guns, and Ghost Towns; Tales of the Pioneers;
and Outposts of Civilization have made Willie Chalfant
a premier historian of the Owens Valley / Inyo County and Death
Valley area. He is indeed a "favorite son." He has
not only told, what I feel to be, the historically true story
of the Owens Valley water conflict with Los Angeles (in The Story
of Inyo); but, he has left us a glimpse of what Owens Valley,
Death Valley and Inyo County were like from the late 1880s up
through the mid 20th century.
In his Story of Inyo, Bill Chalfant records the following
concerning the construction of the
Owens Valley Aqueduct by the city of Los Angeles.
"The valley has since been driven to a status unique in
California - that of facing a hopeless future. It is unbelievable
that such a valley can revert to primitive waste; but the evil
already done was equally unbelievable a dozen years ago, and
changes are continually for the worse. Private greed combined
with municipal ambition to needlessly ruin one of the most attractive
homelands of the West. Inyo has been made a sacrifice to maladministration,
incompetent plans and management, evil intentions and performance.
It is entitled to have the facts known. While one writing of
matters within his own time and contacts is open to charges of
bias, this record rests on undeniable details which speak for
themselves. Inyo County has invited the most rigid inquiry into
a situation in which not a year, much of the time hardly a month,
was uneventful. "
If this brief historical statement has wet your appetite about
the water that once belonged to Owens Valley, then I suggest
you read The Story of Inyo and visit my web pages on the
Valley water conflict.