William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles

By Catherine Mulholland | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 19
The Completion
of the Aqueduct
1913

WINDING DOWN

Many old-timers of Los Angeles would long remember 1913 not as the year that saw the completion of the Owens River Aqueduct but as the year of the Big Freeze. A cold wave the first week of January produced one of the worst freezes ever in Southern California. Eighty percent of crops were destroyed and the citrus industry crippled. One land developer who surveyed the damage from Pasadena to Monrovia reported that “things are so badly frozen that it is impossible to try and clean them up. ” Work on the aqueduct halted when the temperature dipped to 8°F at Haiwee and water froze in the pipes to the north. Lippincott reported that in Owens Valley the winter was the most severe in memory and that work and water stoppages would delay filling Haiwee Reservoir until April or May. 1

Although only one mile remained to complete the aqueduct, problems great and small still arose. A mule had left with an unpaid board bill of $70.50. The advisory board thought that because Desmond had sometimes worked the animal he should pay the bill, but Van Norman thought the mule had done enough work to warrant the city's paying his tab. A mule owner renting to the city demanded recompense for a twenty-year-old mule he claimed had been returned physically unfit for work. He also put in a $250 claim for a $200 mule killed in a train accident. When Mulholland heard this, along with the information that the city had been paying $10.00 a month rent and $1.50 a month pas-

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