Photo Album Documents 1915 Road Trip Along the New Los Angeles Aqueduct

Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
Nov. 5 2013 12:45 PM

Photo Album Documents 1915 Road Trip Along the New Los Angeles Aqueduct

The Vault is Slate's history blog. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @slatevault, and find us on Tumblr. Find out more about what this space is all about here.

This photo album, made by Angelenos Julius Goodwin Oliver and William Henry Frick, illustrates a road trip that the two curious citizens undertook to observe the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1915. The Aqueduct was opened on November 5, 1913, and the magazine Boom: A Journal of California has dedicated its fall issue to the centennial; the photo album, which is held in the Huntington Library, is the topic of a piece by Boom’s Annie Powers.

The photos are taken in a self-consciously playful spirit of adventure. The caption of the first page reads: “Starting of the EXPEDITION?, among the tears of our sorrowing relatives.” The two friends stop often to provide their Model T with “nourishment,” and cheerful photos of this process are interspersed with the record of the aqueduct.


But in their exploration of the places changed by the new infrastructure, the two men’s images capture some of the political stakes of the siphoning of water from the Owens Valley to a burgeoning Los Angeles.

Oliver and Frick note places along the route where the city of Los Angeles had purchased water rights, land, and the right of way for the aqueduct’s placement. Proudly, they note the capabilities of the current and planned reservoirs, and capture images of the stretches of lined canal. They seem to have been particularly enamored with the miles of steel and concrete siphons. One image depicts Oliver standing on top of one such stretch of siphon, a tiny, faraway figure, with the riveted steel dominating the foreground.

The photo album ends with an image of a female relative watering the lawn of a graceful house—a harbinger of the Los Angeles to come. Poking gentle fun at the niece who didn’t come along for the ride, the caption reads: “1837 Canyon Drive, and the Slacker using the water.”

Many more aqueduct-related documents can be found at UCLA's new Los Angeles Aqueduct Digital Platform.



More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

The Best Way to Organize Your Fridge


The GOP’s Focus on Fake Problems

Why candidates like Scott Walker are building campaigns on drug tests for the poor and voter ID laws.

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

Farewell! Emily Bazelon on What She Will Miss About Slate.

  News & Politics
Sept. 16 2014 7:03 PM Kansas Secretary of State Loses Battle to Protect Senator From Tough Race
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus Video
Sept. 16 2014 2:06 PM A Farewell From Emily Bazelon The former senior editor talks about her very first Slate pitch and says goodbye to the magazine.
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 8:43 PM This 17-Minute Tribute to David Fincher Is the Perfect Preparation for Gone Girl
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 6:40 PM This iPhone 6 Feature Will Change Weather Forecasting
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 16 2014 11:46 PM The Scariest Campfire Story More horrifying than bears, snakes, or hook-handed killers.
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.