Rivers in the desert : William Mulholland and the inventing of Los Angeles (Book, 1993) [WorldCat.org]
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Rivers in the desert : William Mulholland and the inventing of Los Angeles

Author: Margaret Leslie Davis
Publisher: New York, NY : HarperCollins Publishers, ©1993.
Edition/Format:   Print book : Biography : English : 1st edView all editions and formats
Summary:
Rivers in the Desert tells a mythlike American story of how one man, through vision, daring, and engineering genius, invented the Los Angeles of the future, only to fall tragically from grace due to an unforeseen disaster. The man was William Mulholland; his creation, the Los Angeles Aqueduct, the tremendous waterway that transformed an arid and sparsely populated town into a thriving city of millions. In 1907,
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Details

Genre/Form: Biographies
History
Biography
Named Person: William Mulholland; William Mulholland
Material Type: Biography
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Margaret Leslie Davis
ISBN: 0060166983 9780060166984
OCLC Number: 27013333
Description: xii, 303 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
Responsibility: Margaret Leslie Davis.

Abstract:

Rivers in the Desert tells a mythlike American story of how one man, through vision, daring, and engineering genius, invented the Los Angeles of the future, only to fall tragically from grace due to an unforeseen disaster. The man was William Mulholland; his creation, the Los Angeles Aqueduct, the tremendous waterway that transformed an arid and sparsely populated town into a thriving city of millions. In 1907, Mulholland and his army of 5,000 men began building the longest aqueduct in the Western hemisphere: 235 miles of canals, conduits, tunnels, flumes, and massive steel siphons that transport water from Owens Valley in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to water-starved Los Angeles. Today, the aqueduct still provides 70 percent of the city's water supply.

While Mulholland devoted himself to the dream of an abundant West, others exploited the aqueduct plan, reaping immense profits. Land speculators earned millions as the population of Los Angeles swelled, while ruined Owens Valley ranchers, facing disastrous water shortages, mounted a vicious war, dynamiting the aqueduct and imperiling the distant city's water supply.

Mulholland built the St. Francis Dam 50 miles north of Los Angeles in an attempt to safeguard his beloved city's water supply by creating a holding reservoir. Now, he thought, the future of Los Angeles was secure. Then disaster struck. The St. Francis collapsed mysteriously at midnight, March 12, 1928, flooding the valley and leaving a staggering toll of at least 500 dead. Called before a coroner's inquest and threatened with charges of murder and professional negligence, Mulholland found himself deserted by the powerful figures who had promoted his career and abandoned by the citizenry who had honored and adored him. He spent the rest of his life in self-imposed obscurity, never learning the truth behind the failure of the dam.

The story of the aqueduct - the heroism of its builders, the record-breaking feats of engineering, the political shenanigans of land speculators, and the impact it had on the lives of ordinary people - is more than a chronicle of a gifted engineer. It is the story of the birth and development of southern California, and of a man who was as unique a talent as any in American history.

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