myriad unnamed streams - the intimate history of the suburban landscape from the point of view of water in Northeast Los Angeles... 0 / introduction
The intersection of Figueroa Street and the westbound onramp for the 134 is a dramatic swathe of concrete, each lane little more than a conduit for cars whose drivers are focused on any destination but the current location. The ground we stand on is fill brought in to build the freeways. Exotic plants such as oleander, fountaingrass, and eucalyptus line the edges of the asphalt... 1 / eagle rock creek
In the mid 1800s, Eagle Rock Creek continued roughly in the proximity of Lanark Street and turned west toward Yosemite Drive. A hundred years later, an open streambed still existed north of La Loma, but after passing under a bridge at La Loma, ran into a concrete gutter and then storm drain. Here is a story from the late 50s, as told by Kenneth Kent Sr... 2 / where the creek ran underground
In 1945 Elmer Lorenz bought a property on Monte Bonito Drive. On the back end of the property, a seasonal stream ran down a ravine. The stream originated at the site of the current Eagle Rock Recreation Center, which used to be rolling terrain. Here, Elmer remembers seeing violets, lupines, California peonies, Mariposa Lilies, California poppies, Indian paintbrushes. In an interview recorded by the Historical Society, Elmer's mother, Anneta Lorenz, describes how "local residents came and picked [flowers] by the armfuls."... 3 / wildflowers at the rec center
Oldtimers still refer to the area northwest of the present day intersection of Hill Drive and Arbor Dell Road as the "Lemon Grove." A tunnel for irrigation had been drilled there by Benjamin Dreyfus, soon after he was awarded the Eagle Rock area in the Division of Rancho San Rafael in 1870... 4 / tunneling for water
When Bob Cota's family moved onto Loleta Avenue between Colorado and Hill in the 1910s, streams ran down to the valley from the foothills. Cota estimates there might have been 4-6 such streams. Because most of the land had only trees and sagebrush on it, one could easily tell where the water ran because that's where the cattails grew. Cota remembers one such perennial stream running roughly south along Loleta. Its source was a spring at the top of Dahlia Drive... 5 / north of colorado
The sign still reads, "Eagle Rock Springs..." Mrs. DelFosse and her husband had arrived in Eagle Rock in 1912, and soon became owners of "approximately one acre of tree covered grounds with a small artesian lake supplied by several flowing artesian wells." Water from the springs ran all the way to Eagle Rock Boulevard and then on to York Boulevard, with watercress and willows lining the way. 6 / the auto court
"When the water receded all the apples, apricots and peaches and Brown's walnuts had been drowned; in the course of time to be cut up for fuel wherewith the Eagle Rock farmer was just moderately glad to eke out a substitute for money he might have made by farming. The whole Sycamore stretch of flat ground from Park Avenue (Fair Park) to the city limits, and west of Central Avenue (Eagle Rock Boulevard) was a huge morass that grew up immediately to willows, or where the water was still too deep, to cat-tails or tules..." 7 / flooding, then and now
The southern end of Eagle Rock Valley, roughly the location of present day Yosemite Drive, was once a collecting point for water from Eagle Rock Creek as well as from the foothill streams. With increased settlement and lowering of the water table, this stream was barely evident by the 1920s, except during rainy season. Bob Cota remembers the rest of the year there were only spotted pools along the shallow bed. But when water flowed, people would dig along the side of the streambed and would haul away water for domestic purposes... 8 / sycamore drive
The land where pioneer Eagle Rock settler Cromwell Galpin farmed was once ideal for crops: even without artificial irrigation. The Los Angeles Times wrote about Eagle Rock, "It is surprising how long the soil here retains its moisture. We plant our vegetables after all the rains are over, and they mature and reach perfection without any irrigation... irrigation being unnecessary for anything except oranges..." 9 / farming in the late 1800s
"... [H]e that went farther afoot, took his choice of a route across or around the hills, while he that drove a horse went where he could, across a morass if he turned to the right, and into the water if he went ahead; he that turned to the left went farther and fared worse, for he got into bottomless and almost boundless mud over in what is now a very pleasant part of the New York Valley..." 10 / eagle rock boulevard
In 1876, Ludwig Luis Salvator made note of the "Cienega del Garvanza, a small green swamp with clumps of bunch-grass and at the bottom, Sacate de Matico, which never dries out." Several artesian flows at this location began to be developed soon after the partition of 1870. Around the turn of the century, the Huggins family lived in this area. A stream "cut deep through the rear of the property, feeding into a lake that sprawled onto what is now El Paso Drive. Here, the placid pool was a favorite spot for Sunday picknickers who paused to water their horses." 11 / the cienega del garvanza
Bert Fraleigh wrote of the 1930s: "We had Los Angeles city water piped from a small covered reservoir on top of the South Hills behind Rock Glen Avenue. I think they filled the reservoir from the LA Aqueduct... The water wasn't very good, so almost every family subscribed to the waterman who came by weekly delivering allegedly distilled water in blue glass five gallon bottles..." 12 / sparkletts and bottled water
"Some months ago, H.B. Botsford of Eagle Rock Valley discovered a spring of pure water on his place. To get back of all alien ingredients and reach the water in its purest state he drove a tunnel into the rock 350 feet, and thus got at the fountain head where the water comes from the strata of clean granite rock... It is no marvel that Poland Rock water is fast becoming popular in Los Angeles."(Los Angeles Times, September 7, 1890) 13 / poland rock, glen rock, and yosemite waters
Let us turn back to the travels of the Archduke of Austria, Ludwig Louis Salvator in 1876, who after crossing over a low saddle of hills from Eagle Rock Canyon, found himself at the Aguaje del Garvanza: "This contains a small ranch with pastures, wooden houses with porches, and sheep-corrals. Nearby a spring flows." 14 / garvanza springs
Though little trace of it remains above ground today, the North Branch of the Arroyo Seco was once a defining feature of the "vast meadow" that would eventually become Highland Park. Archduke Ludwig Louis Salvator noted the stream in his account of his travels through Los Angeles, which were published in 1876. Building a railroad over the stream near what would become Sycamore Grove Park, altered its surface appearance irretrievably. But even so, the stream persisted aboveground in places into the earliest years of the 1900s. 15 / the north fork
Instead of following the natural topography, subdivisions in Los Angeles for the most part have been gridded right over streambeds... 16 / more stories about buildings and water