William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles

By Catherine Mulholland | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
Preparations for an
Aqueduct and a Trip
to Washington, D. C.
1906

EARLY SKIRMISHES

Even though the overwhelming event of 1906 for California was the earthquake and fire in San Francisco, the year was pivotal for Los Angeles in that it saw not only the establishment of the city's right to import water from distant places but also marked the beginnings of the open shop's triumph over organized labor and the rise of the Progressive movement in politics. In combination, these developments produced great civic turbulence and change, beginning with a turmoil of debate on the Owens Valley question as water men continued to lay ground for the massive undertaking.

As the city pressed the federal government to turn over public lands in Owens Valley and stop all public works there, the people of Owens Valley demanded that their irrigation needs be considered. Pushed from both sides, Secretary of the Interior Ethan A. Hitchcock delayed his decision as he sought more counsel from C. E. Grunsky, city engineer of San Francisco, and also a consulting engineer and advisor on reclamation matters for Interior. Grunsky had completed a tour of western reclamation projects the year before and had already announced the previous September that Interior had no plans for a project in Owens Valley because if it proceeded with work at Klamath and Yuma no further funds would be available. Grunsky also defended Lippincott, whose work in Owens Valley, he stated, had not favored Los Angeles and whose findings were public property “accessible to all. ” Now Grunsky's reply to

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