California Water Documents Digital Collection

The bulk of the collections center on Southern California – the Los Angeles basin, the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys, and the Inland Empire region (San Bernardino and Riverside Counties).  Some of the collections include materials about Central and Northern California, San Diego (CA) County, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.

The archival holdings across the institutions comprise blueprints, correspondence, ephemera, ledgers, legal papers, maps, pamphlets, photographs, plans, reports, scrapbooks, and technical documents.

Subjects covered by the collections include contamination and pollution; floods and flood plains; irrigation; legal cases; the Colorado River Aqueduct; the Los Angeles Aqueduct; reservoirs and dams including Boulder dam, Davis dam, and Parker dam; the Salton Sea; watersheds; water companies and municipal water suppliers; water engineering; water rights, land ownership and other legal matters; design and building of dams; and related topics.

Partner Collections

A.K. Smiley Public Library

Bear Valley Mutual Water Company Collection

The Bear Valley Mutual Water Company Collection contains materials related to the Bear Valley Mutual Water Company, a Redlands, California water utility.  The collection includes correspondence, reports, postcards, payroll sheets, invoices, vouchers, and plans.

Crystal Springs Heron Collection

The Crystal Springs Heron Collection contains materials related to George Heron and his water bottling business.  Mr. Heron moved to Redlands in 1887 and made a homestead claim on the Crystal Springs property. He started the first bottled water business peddling Crystal Springs water to area residents.  The collection includes reviews of the water, bottle labels, property photographs, correspondence, articles, maps, and legal documents.

Miscellaneous Water Rights Collection

The Miscellaneous Water Rights Collection contains materials related to water companies, development companies, and government entities in the Inland Empire.  The collection includes notices of appropriation, payment receipts, letters, real estate contracts, and court documents. 

California State University, Northridge – University Library

Feather River Project Association Collection, 1955 – 1974

The Feather River Project Association Collection contains materials related to the Feather River Project Association (FRPA), incorporated in 1955 as a not-for-profit, non-partisan educational association to serve the public interest of Californians in the areas of water resource development and water conservation.  The collection documents issues such as the future development of California’s water resources, water rights controversies, and the California Water Plan as it has been revised through legislative action from 1900 until the early 1970s. Among the materials are newsletters, correspondence, reports, meeting and conference agendas and minutes, and articles of incorporation.

Duane L. Georgeson Papers, 1959­ – 2011

The Duane L. Georgeson Papers contains materials related to the career and influence of Duane L. Georgeson throughout his professional career with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Metropolitan Water District. During his 53 years working as an engineer with water and water systems, Georgeson influenced many important factors regarding the water policies and procedures of Southern California, contributing to the political and economic water climate currently in place today. The collection includes articles, correspondence, reports, maps, pamphlets, flyers, advertisements, and photographs.

Catherine Mulholland Collection, 1812 – ­2011

The Catherine Mulholland Collection contains materials related to Catherine Rose Mulholland, granddaughter of William Mulholland.  William Mulholland served as the Chief Superintendent of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Catherine was a historian, writer, civic leader, and public speaker in the San Fernando Valley and the greater Los Angeles area, where she spent much of her life.  Some of the materials included in this collection chronicles the life of her grandfather, William Mulholland, whose correspondence demonstrates the many complex issues involved in Los Angeles water history. The collection consists primarily of business correspondence and images of the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

California State University, San Bernardino – John M. Pfau Library

Salton Sea Authority Collection, 1970 – 2015

The Salton Sea Authority Collection contains materials related to the Salton Sea Authority (SSA), a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) empowered to revitalize the Salton Sea in consultation and cooperation with state and federal governments.  Its mission is to protect human health and revitalize the environment and economy of the Sea. The collection includes board minutes, impact reports, water quality tests, and environmental studies.                                                           

The Claremont Colleges Library

Imperial Valley Records, 1900 – ­1973

The Imperial Valley Records contains materials related to the Imperial Irrigation District, All-American Canal, and Imperial Water Company. The collection includes the papers of engineer, Charles N. Perry, as well as maps, reports, and articles on water rights and water supply, and the Imperial Valley and Baja California, Mexico.

Willis S. Jones Papers, 1919 – ­1979

The Willis S. Jones Papers consist of materials from engineer Willis S. Jones, who was superintendent of the Claremont Domestic Water Company, and a consulting engineer to the Vail Company. The materials include field notebooks, legal cases on water rights and supply, maps of Southern California, photographs of the San Gabriel Valley and investigation documents, rainfall, run-off, and well records, as well as reports on water use, and engineer reports.

Jeffry Joseph Prendergast Papers, 1944 – ­1962

The Jeffry Joseph Prendergast Papers consist of documents about water rights and water supply in California.  Subjects include the California Division of Water Resources, the Metropolitan Water District, and areas and counties of origin issues.

J. Ralph Shoemaker Papers, 1910­ – 1960

The J. Ralph Shoemaker Papers consist of the records of J. Ralph Shoemaker, a hydraulic engineer, who worked for the Pomona Valley Protective Association and various Southern California water companies. He was also involved with legal suits related to water and water rights.  The materials in his collection include field notes, legal documents, reports, maps and photographs.

Water Resources Collection (folios and large folio bound manuscripts), 1894 -1941

The Water Resources Collection is a collection of materials from a variety of sources and creators assembled and organized by Special Collections staff to facilitate its management and use. The collection contains reports of irrigation districts, water companies, and engineers in the Southern California region, as well as newspaper clippings on the Los Angeles flood of 1938. Bound manuscripts, scrapbooks, photo albums, and ledgers are also contained therein.

The Water Resources Collection contains materials related to the Bear Valley Irrigation Company such as records of transactions that include deeds, mortgages, and contracts, as well as court records from the Superior Court of the county of San Bernardino and the United States Land Office.

National Archives at Riverside

Hydrographic Survey Sheets, circa 1891­ – 1934

Survey sheets concerning artesian wells and irrigation sent to California landowners by the United States Geological Survey, as a follow up to the 1890 United States Federal Census. The information supplied by individual landowners varies from brief responses to detailed descriptions of well-related issues such as well costs, well depth, water quality, water flow, and water use purposes. Some of the landowners who responded to the surveys were prominent Californians of the nineteenth century such as J. W. Bixby, A. B. Chapman, and William McFadden.

All­-American Canal Project Histories, 1934­ – 1954

Annual reports (Annual Histories) of the All-American Canal, a Bureau of Reclamation project located in southeastern California. In addition to narrative descriptions of the project, these histories may contain photographs, maps, and charts. The records document the progress of construction of the canal, the completion of the project, procurement of lands, weather conditions, water flow, and crop yields.

Boulder Canyon Project Histories, 1931­ – 1966

Annual reports (Annual Histories) of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Boulder Canyon Project, namely Boulder Dam (Hoover Dam), Boulder Power Plant, and the All-American Canal. In addition to narrative descriptions of the project, these histories may contain photographs, maps, and technical drawings. The histories document the project’s construction, operation, and maintenance including the construction of Boulder City, Nevada, and Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Colorado River Project Histories, 1954­ – 1965

Annual reports (Annual Histories) of the Colorado River Project, a Bureau of Reclamation project on the California/Arizona border. The histories document the construction, operation, and maintenance of a navigable channel, levees, and river front areas on the Colorado River. The histories may also include data tables, sites plans, and photographs.

Davis Dam Project Histories, 1942­ – 1952

Annual reports (Annual Histories) of Davis Dam, originally called Bullishead Dam, a Bureau of Reclamation project, located in Pyramid Canyon on the Colorado River. The histories document the construction, maintenance, and operation of the dam and power project. The reports may also include photographs, maps, site plans, and technical drawings.

Gila Project Histories, 1936­ – 1966

Annual reports (Annual Histories) of the Gila Project, a Bureau of Reclamation irrigation project in which water was diverted from the Colorado River at the Imperial Dam near Yuma. The histories provide narrative and photographic documentation of the construction, operation and maintenance of the Gila Project including the Gila Main Canal Headworks and the Gila Gravity Canal and Desilting Works. 

Parker Dam Project Histories, 1934-1945

Annual reports (Annual Histories) of the Parker Dam Project, a Bureau of Reclamation project, located on the Colorado River. The histories provide narrative and photographic documentation of the construction, operation, and maintenance of the project. Included is a narrative of events concerning the termination of construction in 1934-1935 because of disagreement between the State of Arizona and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Ontario City Library

Model Colony Clipping Files

The Model Colony Clipping Files contains materials related to Ontario, California, founded as a colony by Canadian brothers George and William Chaffey in 1882.  The collection includes the Etiwanda Water Company minute and stock books, information on the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Colorado River Aqueduct, and correspondence, notes, and reports. 

Model Colony Map Collection

The Model Colony Map Collection contains maps of Cucamonga and the San Antonio Canyon.  Brothers George and William Chaffey, founders of Etiwanda and Ontario, had cement pipes constructed to bring water from the nearby canyons to irrigate their colonies. They established the San Antonio Water Company in October 1882 and water was delivered to the highest point on each parcel of land sold within the new colony through cement pipes, tunnels, and wooden flumes from nearby San Antonio Canyon.

Ontario Colony Land Records

The Ontario Colony Land Records contain materials from water pioneers George and William Chaffey, and Charles Frankish.  The materials include the letters of the Chaffey brothers and Frankish, the Ontario Land and Improvement Company’s abstract of title and land record ledger, The Frankish Company stock journal, and a publication summarizing reasons to invest and/or relocate to Ontario, California.

Ontario Mutual Water Companies Collection

The Ontario Mutual Water Companies Collection contains the business records of the Ontario Mutual Water Company and the South Side Mutual Water Company.  In 1957, the West Ontario Mutual Water Company shareholders voted to sell the company to the City of Ontario for $12,000 and it is assumed that South Side followed suit. Items in this collection include agreements, grant deeds, and correspondence such as notices to stockholders.  

Upland Public Library

San Antonio Water Company Collection

The San Antonio Water Company Collection contains materials related to its business as a mutual water company incorporated in 1882.  The collection contains the San Antonio Water Company local history inventory and appraisals and shareholder correspondence.

San Antonio Water Company Oral History Collection

The San Antonio Water Company Oral History Collection contains oral histories of Upland, California area residents. The collection includes audio tapes and transcripts of people connected to the work of water companies and water districts, agriculture, and their recollections living in the Upland area.

San Bernardino Flood Control District Collection

The San Bernardino Flood Control District Collection contains materials related to the establishment and history of flood projects and water conservation as a result of the flood of March 1938 in Southern California. The collection includes hydrographic reports and a history of the flood control district in San Bernardino County.