Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

A spring sunset lights up lenticular clouds gathered over the Owens River and the Sierra Crest at Benton Crossing, north of Bishop.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

The moon sets over the Sierra Nevada crest and Lone Pine Peak, left. Rain and snow melt along the Eastern Sierra are gathered for export to Los Angeles via the L.A. Aqueduct.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Cattle graze along the headwaters of the Upper Owens River near Big Springs.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Algae bloom along a shallow shoreline at Crowley Lake, created in 1941 by the completion of the Long Valley Dam on the Upper Owens River.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

The salty crust along the shoreline of Owens Lake is colored red by dense colonies of halophilic archaebacteria. The halobacteria live in a thin layer of brine on the surface of the lake bed. The white material is soda ash (sodium carbonate), once harvested from evaporation ponds by the now-defunct Pittsburgh Plate Glass factory.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Tiny stalactites form as water drips from a leaking section of Los Angeles Aqueduct steel pipe in Saugus.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

The concrete lid of a section of Los Angeles Aqueduct conduit slices through the desert near Mojave.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

The sun sets on the covered conduit of the Los Angeles Aqueduct as it winds through the desert near Indian Wells.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

The Owens River Gorge across the Bishop Volcanic Tablelands, viewed south toward Bishop and the Owens Valley. Three Department of Water and Power plants in the gorge use Owens River water to run hydroelectric generators.

The afternoon sun reflects off Klondike Lake, located in an alkali sink, north of the Los Angeles Aqueduct intake near Big Pine.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Heavy storm clouds roll across the Mojave Desert over Jawbone Canyon and the aqueduct's Jawbone Siphon north of Mojave.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

The setting sun casts the shadows of Mt. Whitney and the Sierra Crest across Owens Lake near Lone Pine.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

The concrete-lined channel of the Los Angeles Aqueduct flows south alongside U.S. 395 south of the Owens Valley town of Lone Pine. The view is looking north into the valley.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Evening light and clouds reflect in the Owens River as its waters are gathered for diversion toward the Los Angeles Aqueduct intake near Big Pine.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

A 10-foot-diameter steel segment of the Los Angeles Aqueduct runs through residential areas near Saugus High School on the path toward the terminus in the San Fernando Valley.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

North of Mojave, heavy storm clouds roll across the desert over Jawbone Canyon and the Second Los Angeles Aqueduct, which opened in 1970 and added 50% more capacity to the water system.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

Water rushes down the Cascades section of the Los Angeles Aqueduct toward the terminus of the system in Sylmar.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times

The Cascades terminus of the Los Angeles Aqueduct near the 5 Freeway above Sylmar, decorated for the holidays with fiber-optic lighting along the final 960-–foot drop.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times

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L.A. Aqueduct: Coursing through history and California wilderness

One hundred years ago — Nov. 5, 1913 — 40,000 people gathered to watch the water arrive for the first time from the Owens Valley.

At 1:15 p.m. that day, William Mulholland, the city’s chief water engineer, gave a signal and a crew turned a steel wheel, opening gates that sent the first sparkling water into the waiting San Fernando Reservoir.

“There it is — take it,” Mulholland said to the cheering crowd.

It took 5,000 workers five years to complete the $23-million project, which was excavated with dynamite and hand shovels in rocky canyons and searing desert expanses.

The job — completed on time and under budget — required 215 miles of road, 280 miles of pipeline, 142 tunnels, more than 1 million barrels of cement and 6 million pounds of dynamite. At least 43 men perished during construction.

Mulholland’s prophecy that “whoever brings the water will bring the people” was soon fulfilled.

The aqueduct — powered by gravity alone as it tapped the snows of the Sierra Nevada 200 miles to the north — ensured reliable irrigation for farms and ranches and nurtured a galaxy of prosperous Southern California suburbs and industrial centers.

Like a magnet, it pulled in millions of people from around the country, offering them new jobs and new lifestyles.

In 1913, the city covered 107 square miles. Seven years later, it had expanded to 364 square miles with a population of nearly 800,000 people. Today, Los Angeles covers 465 square miles with a population of nearly 4 million.

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100 years of the LA Aqueduct

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