Sunday, August 14, 2011

Water works and fluid facts

Years ago Historian Buddy Bill Trimble encouraged me to read "L.J. Rose of Sunny Slope, 1827-1899". L.J. Rose was an immigrant from Bavaria whose life story is filled with triumphant highlights and a tragic ending. As I read I remember being impressed by the frankness of the time including a listing of different wages to be paid to workers based on national origin or race. Everything about Sunny Slope felt immensely 19th century.
This past week I visited Sunnyslope Water Company. I mentioned Mike Hart in the last post and you saw some of his artistic talents. Those of us on the SWC tour had a chance to enjoy his historian talents. He brought the 21st century through the 18th centuries closer together. Fine historians can do that.
He shared information about the source of our local water - proximity to faults and foothills, acres of land, acre/feet of water - lots of facts. He reminded us that Lake Avenue is so named because it used to lead to Mission/Kewen Lake - we now know it as Lacy Park in San Marino. I was reminded that much of the history and antipathy that exists between local cities relates to water and its importance to survival and financial successes. Annexation and ownership don't take place in an equal partnership.
Walking through the grounds, carefully recreated by Mike and others, there was a calm and quiet that led to thoughts of the 19th century. Water was present but seemed to flow on its own terms in its own manner.
Springs popped up in unexpected places. It was easy to imagine what the area might have been like when it was a part of the Sunny Slope Ranch. Water, wealth and sustainability seemed at the core of our local history. Perceptions of our valley and its relation to water became real to me.

This bridge allowed one to cross the dam that was built in approximately 1790. Given the date, history has been revised - John Chapman is no longer credited with the work on the dam. Tongva, and/or those from España or Nueva España built the dam that provided water to the San Gabriel Mission lands.
At that time the water traversed 3 miles to the mission, even less to the vast lands that were the source of the mission's great wealth. Both facts brought different sorts of revelations to me. I don't know what others may have learned, we didn't talk much about meaning there was so much to, pardon the pun, drink in. I couldn't help but think about water, health, wealth, and sustainability.

On Bunker Hill - post on L.J. Rose -


  1. Such interesting stuff! I had no idea there was this property right near where I live. And real running springs on the property. Amazing.

  2. Glad you enjoyed the blog.
    It was an amazing experience. You go to the front offices and it's very 20th century - go off for a bit of a walk and you are surrounded by water and its history. I may need to write a third part. We'll see.

  3. Always good to read some local history! I'm familiar with that website too.

  4. I found it sad to read about Mr. Rose and his suicide. We somehow tend to learn about the rise from the landboom, but not the crashes that happened.
    We're lucky that so many books are now online - greater access to so much history.