William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles

By Catherine Mulholland | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 15
Building the Aqueduct:
The Best Year
1909

THE WICKEDEST TOWN IN THE WEST

In most ways, 1909 was the best of all the seven years of aqueduct construction. Ample funds were available, work advanced on schedule, and crews set new world records for speed in tunnel drilling. Nor did the city's uproar as it threatened to become the first in the nation to recall its mayor much affect work. In early February 1909, Mulholland wrote his friend and colleague Henry Dockweiler, who was helping San Francisco to prepare a brief in the Spring Valley water case as well as to fix rates for San Rafael, Oakland, and San Francisco. Doc had asked Bill for some specifications and plans and, not having received them, wrote again. Mulholland explained that not only was the department's auditor moving into larger quarters so that things were all torn up, but “as you can imagine, the work is keeping us all very busy these days, with a working force of over 3,000 men, 40 camps, and 230 miles of line to get over about ever so often. During the first ten days of last month we drove 2,456 feet of tunnel on the Jawbone section which brought the total up to 18,400 feet since we began in October.

When Dockweiler received the materials a week later, he wrote a note of thanks, adding that he hoped the good progress on the aqueduct would quiet those who believed a city could not do work as well as a private corporation. “I have become tired of listening, he went on, “to the objections that have been set forth, that this city [San Francisco] will never be able to accomplish anything in the way of building a water works.

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