Panama and Los Angeles


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Panama and Los Angeles

  1. 1. Linda Marshall Spring 2011 HIST 141 - Dr. Arguello Online 31296 Panama & Los Angeles: The Waterworks That Made the American West
  2. 2. The Panama Canal In 1880, the French, led by Ferdinand deLesseps, began the Panama Canal The canal would be 50 miles long, at sea level, and save 8,000 miles Panama’s climate and environs made the work dangerous Work began by cutting through the jungle by hand to clear a path several hundred feet wide, the length of the isthmus Digging began with the promise that as problems arose men of genius would step up to solve them The best engineers came to work and many died of the diseases and dangers of the jungle, but more came to replace them for the glory of France Yellow Fever was the main cause of death and there was no one who knew definitively what caused it
  3. 3. The Panama Canal In 1889, the work was behind schedule, over-budget and no solution had been found to cope with the river Part of the problem was due to the training of the French engineers, taught to find solutions through computations, not by improvisation After 10 years and being a third of the way done, the French had lost over 20,000 people and the money had run out for deLessups’ company In 1901, President McKinley was assassinated making Theodore Roosevelt President Roosevelt envisioned a U.S. Navy presence in both oceans with a canal joining them - he was able to get approval by Congress to build the Panama Canal As Columbia pushed back on the canal, Panama was able to conduct a quick revolution allying themselves with the U.S.
  4. 4. The Panama Canal For $10 million, the U.S. was to build through a new canal zone and had the right to act as sovereign within the zone in perpetuity At first it was a disaster until John Stevens, an experienced railroad man, was appointed as Chief Engineer Stevens first order of business was to create a livable community for his workers Dr. William Gorgas, came to the conclusion that mosquitoes caused Yellow Fever and a cleaning and prevention campaign took place eliminating Yellow Fever on the isthmus by 1905 Stevens proposed the lock and lake solution and a rail system was set up to remove the dirt, keep up with the steam shovels, and deposit the dirt to dam the lake Roosevelt came to Panama to see the progress becoming the first sitting President to leave the country while in office
  5. 5. The Panama Canal When Stevens quit, Roosevelt appointed George Goethals, an Army engineer with experience in building locks and dams Under Goethals, they were digging the equivalent of 3 Suez canals a year Death and injury were common in the Cut and rain caused mudslides that crushed equipment and railroad track The workers in 1912 numbered 50,000 with less than 10% U.S. citizens - most were English-speaking West Indians May 20, 1913, 2 steam shovels met and sounded their whistles signaling the canal was as deep as it would go The canal finished ahead of schedule, cost less than estimated, and no corruption was tied to the project The complete 50 mile crossing takes about 9 hours - it is one of the busiest sea lanes in the world
  6. 6. Mulholland’s Dream William Mulholland came to Los Angeles in 1878 and found work as a ditch digger, eventually becoming Superintendent of the LA water system LA grew to 100,000 people and began to deplete the LA River and would need more water LA Mayor and friend, Fred Eaton, told Mulholland about the Owens River Valley 200 miles north of LA Mulholland saw the Owens River as a source to supply LA into the next century The Owens River’s water rights were owned by the people who had settled there and was also being developed by the Bureau of Reclamation Associates of Eaton and Mulholland contrived to examine land and water rights documents Eaton bought property, water rights, and a dam site with the residents believing they were selling to a local irrigation project
  7. 7. Mulholland’s Dream Real estate in the San Fernando Valley was being purchased and it was revealed that the owners would profit from the irrigation of the Owens River The campaign to vote for the aqueduct was assisted by drought and hot temperatures so it was approved by the voters President Roosevelt said the aqueduct would do the greatest good for the greatest amount of people and secured the area around it by declaring a national forest in the area Mulholland was Chief Engineer on the project though he had no formal training in civil engineering More than 100,00 people worked on the aqueduct over 5 years The aqueduct was completed ahead of schedule and under budget opening officially on November 5, 1913
  8. 8. Mulholland’s Dream Building and construction boomed, and landscape flourished after the water came LA grew in population and land mass - 1 million people by 1922 and 400 square miles The aqueduct provided more water than LA needed and the San Fernando Valley became some of the most productive farmland in the nation San Fernando’s increase in value gave the opportunity to plow the orchards, build houses, and make money LA was able to expand a 3 times the rate Mulholland had calculated and the LA Chamber of Commerce kept soliciting for more people to come The strain on the water supply brought the focus to Owens Valley again The Owens Valley citizens took control of an aqueduct gate and stopped the flow to LA Negotiations resulted in an offer for the water rights but the deal fell through
  9. 9. Mulholland’s Dream Police were sent and eventually the Owens Valley citizens lost control To ensure the water flow, Mulholland had to build the St. Frances Dam closer to LA - the dam broke killing as many people as the San Francisco earthquake No charges were filed but Mulholland accepted the blame and resigned Mulholland’s plans for other aqueducts were used to tap the Colorado River and connect the aqueduct to Mono Lake People began to see the damage the aqueducts were causing to the water sources Conservationism was recognized as a way to save the environments affected by the water transfer LA now shares water with the Owens River Valley and Mono Lake