Category Archives: Historical

Agua Mansa

Traders in the caravans coming to California did not just trade with those at the missions, but with any group or community they came across. The little settlement of Agua Mansa enjoyed the benefit of being the first village of any size once the mule trains dropped in from the mountains after crossing the deserts.

Agua Mansa cemetery

It was called Aqua Mansa, meaning Gentle Water, and was composed entirely of immigrants from New Mexico, numbering some 200 souls–simple, good souls they were, too, primitive in their style of living, kind and hospitable to strangers, rich in all that went to make people happy and content, never having been, up to that time, vexed by the unceremonious calls of the tax collector, owing allegiance to none save the simple, kindhearted old priest who looked after their spiritual welfare. With peace and plenty surrounding them, the good people of Aqua Mansa went to make as contented and happy of people as could be found in the universe.

Bell, Horace, Reminiscences of a Ranger – 1927

Lost on the Trail – Ellen Baley

During this phase of the journey the wagon train was doing much of its traveling at night, owing to the great daytime heat of the desert and the long distances between water holes. At regular intervals during the night they would stop for a short rest. At one of these rest stops, eleven-year-old Ellen Baley, a daughter of Gillum and Permelia Baley, fell asleep and failed to awaken when the wagon train moved on. Somehow, she was not missed until the train traveled some distance. The poor girl awoke to find herself alone in the middle of a vast hostile desert. Filled with fright, she began running to catch up with the wagon train, but in her confusion, she took off in the opposite direction. When she was discovered missing, her father and older brother, George, immediately rode back to where they had stopped. To their horror, she was not there! Captured by the Indians must have been their conclusion! Nevertheless, they continued their search by calling out the little girl’s name at the top of their voices as they rode back. Their efforts were soon rewarded when, far off in the distance, came a faint cry,
“Papa, Papa.” Her father immediately answered and kept calling her name until he caught up with her. When reunited with her family and the other members of the wagon train, Ellen had a tale that would be told and retold by family members until the present day.

from:
Disaster at the Colorado
Beale’s Wagon Road and the First Emigrant Party
Charles W. Baley

Lake Adelaide

by Walter Feller

A small dam was erected to raise the water level up against a gate to a flume that could be opened letting water from Deep Creek flow into a stone-walled channel. This channel ran along a carefully continuous slope to a headwater, into a pipeline across the Mojave River, then on to an open reservoir in what is now the City of Hesperia, Ca.

Lake Adelaide – Deep Creek – Hesperia’s water source of the late 1800s and onward . . .
Gate at end of the flume. Looking upstream.
Canal at flume looking downstream.

The slope along the canal has to be even to avoid turbulent flow. The walls need to be high enough all along the canal to maintain volume, accommodate hydraulic jump and prevent sloshing over the side. A smooth, even flow like that is called laminar flow.

Stunning Lake Adelaide

The smooth flow we look for in an open channel aqueduct is called ‘laminar flow.’ As water passes through the 3 or 4 miles, if the flow is turbulent, all kinds of contaminants may become entrapped and entrained in the water, which is undesirable.

The floor of the channel needed to be flat and to hold a uniform, gentle, even slope for a long distance.

So, water diverted at the flume passes through the gate and into a specifically engineered channel to be delivered to the next step, the headworks.

This is the last stretch before the water leaves the mountains. The headworks were at the washed out area to the left.

Think of the headworks as sort of a funnel with the water pouring from the channel into the top of the siphon. There most likely was a grate on there to keep large objects from falling into the pipeline and clogging it.

Headworks at the top of the siphon

Looking north (downstream) at Mojave River from southern side of Deep Creek Canyon
Hesperia Lake, looking southeast toward mountains.

The pipeline changes direction at Hesperia Lake. The origin of the lake is not exactly clear. One story I have heard is that the lake began when the pipeline was leaking and the water did not drain. There is a shallow well in the park that empties into the lake. The spiral-coiled pipe that was used may very well have sprung a leak under the high pressure of being the lowest point of the siphon, as well as a turning point in the line.

Map of water transmission system.

The pipeline turned west at the lake and continued up the little canyon crawling up to the area locally known as ‘the mesa.’ The pipeline then terminated at an open reservoir at what is now Lime Street Park.

Reservoir at end of the pipeline.

All of this rather than dig a hole for a well.

Rotary drilling was being developed, still. Water was down 500-600′ below the surface at this specific location where the reservoir needed to be. Building this canal the 12-14 miles it was, was preferable to digging a well that deep by hand.

The location of the reservoir was well thought out. The water needed to be here for the railroad. Trains could fill up with water for the hard pull over the Cajon Summit to the south.

The canal and pipeline were completed in 1886 when the California Southern track was finished and trains began running.

The water in the reservoir would be fed into the water system to fill the tank at the little railroad station across the street from where Walters’ General Store and the Hesperia Hotel would be built, and at the school just over on the east side of the tracks.

Water at this location was critical. 500 feet below the surface there was plenty of water, but the drilling technology to get to it was 30-40 years in the future.
circa – 1900

So, hopefully, all things have been considered and that is the story of how and why water was brought to our mesas and providing our opportunity to grow into the collective mega-empire we are to this very day. IMO.

-end-