Following a Nov. 1, 1931, explosion on the Los Angeles Aqueduct, the Los Angeles Times in a Nov. 3, 1931, article reported on the years of dynamite attacks:
Sunday night’s blast touched off on the Grape Vine siphon marked the eighth actual dynamiting of the Owens Valley Aqueduct system in a series of outrages directed against the city’s water supply system outside the city of Los Angeles. The dynamiting included the following:
The first one, which was regarded as more in the nature of a warning of what might follow, occurred May 21, 1924, when a section of the open aqueduct about two miles north of Lone Pine was blasted by a charge of powder. Actual damage to the structure itself was slight. A gang of thirty or forty masked men were reported to have participated in the explosion.
On May 14, 1926, a hole was blown in the concrete structure carrying water about a mile south of the spillway in the Alabama Hills.
By far the most spectacular and disastrous dynamiting came when the No Name siphon was blown out on May 27, 1927. This job was engineered by someone who knew how to do a real job of dynamiting. At least two cases of blasting gelatin were floated down the siphon. The time fuse on one of them burned as scheduled and the resulting explosion tore a great hole in the siphon. For some reason or other the second case did not reach its destination. It was found within the tunnel leading to the siphon after the explosion. The fuse on it had failed.
The great gap rent by the explosion let the water out the siphon so fast that before air could get into it through the manhole above, a great vacuum had been created and about 300 feet of the monster steel pipe collapsed like so much tin. In this respect the outrage committed last Sunday night turned out more fortunate than might have been the case. The siphon did not collapse. The guards at the siphon had been kidnapped before the explosion.
The Times article reported additional dynamite attacks on June 19, 1927, and two on July 16, 1927. Also, The Times reported on Nov. 20, 1924, that Owens Valley residents took possession of the Alabama control gates for 65 hours.
Those Owens Valley residents took objection to Los Angeles taking all their water and turning Owens Valley into a desert. It’s a little known story of California history. One of the amazing things about our history here in Big Smoggy is we managed to maintain a clean reputation.
When you think of big city corruption you’re more likely to think of New York or Chicago. Of course until Chinatown came out Hollywood never did movies about how things really were in the Golden State and Dragnet and Adam-12 convinced people the LAPD was filled with boy scouts.
You can read more about the Los Angeles Aquaduct here.