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By: Rachelle alcantara History 141 Final Part 1: Panama & Los Angeles: The Waterworks That Made the American West
A Man, A Plan, A Canal: PANAMA The Panama Canal changed the course of history. It began in the 1880’s and if it had been built in easier conditions, it still would have been considered the greatest engineering marvel of the age. The Panama Canal looked at as one of the greatest human achievements of all time. Panama was one of the most difficult and deadly terrains of the world, and yet the canal was built to last. Spectators have said that the constructors must have “had a view into the future” to create something with such strength. The passage from sea to sea is really up and over panama, this is the genius of the engineering. Much of the mechanics are underwater so much more is happening then what meets the eye.
The Pioneers It all started in Paris in 1879. Innovation and experimentation were the sign of the times. Ferdinand de Lesseps: was known as “the great Frenchman.” He created the construction the Suez Canal, and was a master entrepreneur who never visited Panama and was not an engineer, but hand an idea the sparked this great canal. In the beginning the moral was high for the greatest construction project ever attempted. But Pioneers began dropping like flies due to diseases, but still others followed, all for the glory of France. The Pioneers spent ten years in Panama and lost 20 thousand lives. Costs were out of hands and many problems arouse. The French effort just came too early. Although it failed, the pioneers did about a third of the job needed for the panama canal
The Builders The American effort began with a fiasco. Moral was terrible and disease broke out. John Stevens was the finest railroad engineer in America. His main goal was to make Panama a fit place to live and this saved the canal from almost certain disaster. Stevens spent much money, but the effects was great. They were able to use bigger equipment such as steam engines which increased man power. When Stevens quit, Roosevelt appointed an army man.
Costs The Panama Canal was completed ahead of schedule and under budget. The Americans spent $352 million The French spent $287 million In present days value, the total cost was $7 billion There was a total of 5,609 that lost their lives building the canal. It was estimated the 4,500 of those lives were black workers
William Mulholland in the Beginning Mulholland started working for the LAWC in 1877 as a ditch digger By 1886 Mulholland had been promoted to superintendent In 1903, the Los Angeles river, the only source of water for the city, ran dry Mulholland found that the Owen’s Valley was the closest source of water for Lost Angeles In 1905, Lost Angeles had acquired all the land and the water rights needed to start the aqueduct The aqueduct finished early and under budget
The San Fernando Valley The Los Angeles aqueduct ran through barren land in the san Fernando Valley Many capitalist in Los Angeles saw this area as a great investment to profit from the arrival of the aqueduct Once the water began to flow through the valley, the barren land became great fertile farmland By the early 1920’s, the valley was the largest producing farmland area in America Soon after the farming boom in the valley, the development of tact housing grew to help support the mass amounts of people moving to the area Property values in the value had been increased 30 times since the arrival of the water from the aqueduct
Rapid Growth The city of Los Angeles was growing three times faster then Mulholland had planned for when he planned his aqueduct Ten years after the aqueduct was finished, Los Angeles was once again running out of water The LAWC looked for several new sources of water to help keep up with the growth of the city They extended the current aqueduct up to the Mono Lake basin to gain more water A second aqueduct was developed withdrawing water from the Colorado River A third aqueduct was developed diverting water from the Feather River There were even long term plans to divert water from the Columbia river in Alaska all the way to the Mexican boarder
Resistance There were many resistances against Los Angeles in their search for more water. Owen’s Valley residents tried several times to take control of the flow gates in the south of the valley Other residents used dynamite to blow up the pipeline to stop the flow of water The Arizona government sent out its militia to the boarder to try and fight the back against the builders of the Colorado river aqueduct It took Los Angeles 30 years in court to claim the rights to the water College biologist created a study of Mono Lake stating that the aqueduct was threaten to change the entire ecosystem of the valley if they let Los Angeles empty the lake dry The biologist won the court battle and the city of Los Angeles had the return water to Lake Mono Now the idea of water conservation was on the minds of the people in Los Angeles.