I’ve tried hard to put a name on the color of the glacier water in the lakes and rivers. It’s extraordinary. Turquoise, bird’s nest blue, opal….perhaps aquamarine matches the remarkable fantasy, paintbox color that I’ve had the pleasure to see Here’s the “Roaring Meg,” the “turbulent streams that drives Te Wai a Korokio,” a hydro electric power station. There’s a legend about how the stream was named the “Roaring Meg,” involving a noisy barmaid who was carried across it by two men–Meg was with her friend Annie, a shy girl, and the stream next door is appropriately called the “Quiet Annie.”
Angelo sent me these pictures, clarifying what a sidehill trestle looks like. Before the Montara Flood question was resolved, this is what I had assumed must have been supporting the “strangerails” before being washed away. As San Pedro Point pictures they are pretty cool too. I look at those and can’t help but think of LANDSLIDE!!! Enjoy. John
John, you recently asked about side hill trestles. Here are three attachments depicting examples:
#1 (“OSRR – Another View of Pedro Pt. Tunnel”) is of the south side of the Pedro Point Tunnel showing the first such trestle on that side; it also shows the Ransome Construction Co.’s gravel bunker on the outermost track of the tunnel.
#2 (“OSRR at Pedro Point”) is of the same scene, probably later, with the step trestle filled in.
#3 (“NWP R.R. at Scotia Bluffs”) is of a Northwestern Pacific passenger train on the Scotia Bluffs near Eureka. (My wife and I took this route some years ago from Willits–very scenic along the Eel River with tunnels galore–when the NWP-Eureka Southern had excursion trains before the line was shut down for safety reasons.)
Hopefully you can see that the inner part of the track rested solidly on the mountain side while the outer part rested on built-up trestle work. Angelo
In investigating the Montara photo my analysis was thrown off by the size of the Montara Watershed. How could a flood so severe, as to wash a trestle from underneath the rails, leaving them suspended in the air, spanning the gap, have occurred in such a small watershed? The watershed is only about 1,085 acres, reaching just about 800 feet in altitude, not a height subject to the heaviest rainfall from orographic lifting. It just didn’t seem possible.
John Schmale’s explanation of the clogged culvert during a heavy rainstorm and the subsequent dynamiting answered those questions. It also gave me a date for the event, January 13, 1916. Unfortunately, the newspaper archives all end at 1910, so they can’t provide an article about this. But, I did some other research and it turns out there is an interesting “Rest of the Story.”
By using the date as part of the Search terms I discovered that it might have been Charles Hatfield and pluviculture that were responsible. Most of us know of pluviculturists under the common name of “Rainmakers,” though Mr. Hatfield, probably the most famous one of all, called himself a “Rain Accelerator.”
Here’s a newspaper headline and article from the October 19th, 1907 issue of the Los Angeles Herald, that give us some insight into his highly successful career that went on for decades, claiming 500 successes.
RAIN MAKER RENEWS HIS
CONTRACTS IN NORTH
Charles Hatfield Guaranteed Three
Thousand Dollars for Twelve
Inches Precipitation In Five Months
“Charles Hatfield, rain producer, is again under contract to bring a downpour in Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin counties. This is the third contract of that nature Mr. Hatfield has undertaken, and each previous time was successful. His agreement is that he will bring twelve inches of rain between November 15 and April 15. If he succeeds this year he will receive $3000, which has been guaranteed by the ranchers.
After operating at Crow’s Landing Hatfield will go to Sherman county, Ore., where he has a second contract. The rainmaker is using a much stronger plant this year and says he has no doubt but that he will be successful.”
Jumping forward a decade to Dec. 1915, Mr. Hatfield sent the following letter to the Common Council in Southern California:
I will fill the Morena Reservoir to overflowing between now and next December 20th, 1916, for the sum of ten thousand dollars, in default of which I ask no compensation; or I will deliver at the Morena Reservoir thirty inches of rain free of charge, you to pay me $500 per inch from the thirtieth to the fiftieth inch–all above fifty inches to be free, on or before the 1st of June, 1916. Or I will forty inches (sic) during the next twelve months, free of charge, provided you pay me $1000 per inch for all between forty and fifty inches, all above fifty inches free.”
The Charles Hatfield article at Wikipedia summarizes what happened next in this excerpt:
“In 1915 the San Diegocity council, pressured by the San Diego Wide Awake Improvement Club, approached Hatfield to produce rain to fill the Morena Damreservoir. Hatfield offered to produce rain for free, then charge $1,000 per inch ($393.7 per centimetre) for between forty to fifty inches (1.02 to 1.27 m) and free again over fifty inches (1.27 m). The council voted four to one for a $10,000 fee, payable when the reservoir was filled. Hatfield, with his brother, built a 20-foot (6 m) tower beside Lake Morena and was ready early in the New Year.
On January 5, 1916 heavy rain began – and grew gradually heavier day by day. Dry riverbeds filled to the point of flooding. Worsening floods destroyed bridges, marooned trains and cut phone cables – not to mention flooding homes and farms. Two dams, Sweetwater Dam and one at Lower Otay Lake, overflowed. Rain stopped January 20 but resumed two days later.”
This string of storms produced flooding from Canada to Mexico, including the Great Montara Flood shown in the old photo you shared. Someday I’ll get a chance to read what local papers had to say about the events of that January. But, Richard Pourade, at the San Diego Historical Society website has written a fascinating essay about all the characters and events at the center of this storm. I was especially intrigued by the failure of local authorities to heed the lesson taught in the Pied Piper of Hamlin story, leading them to stiff Mr. Hatfield for his successfully completed contract, calling it an Act of God.
Whether Mr. Hatfield’s efforts were just coincidental to the peak of California’s rainy season, I can’t say, but being too successful shouldn’t be reason for welching on a deal. Enjoy. John P.S. Recently pluviculture has been getting some press. Hugo Chavez announced plans to employ rainmakers to fight a Venezuelan drought. And I’ve heard in “SuperFreakenomics,” the author, Levitt, mentioned the concept of transporting relatively small amounts of sulphur up a tether to a geosynchronous satellite to be dispersed in the higher reaches of our atmosphere to fight global warming. This seemingly far-fetched idea complements the recent N.A.S.A. prize award for $900,000 given to a team who developed a robot capable of climbing a one kilometer tether in four minutes or so, using laser beams from the ground to power its solar cells. They are interested in transporting mass as far away as possible from Earth’s overwhelming gravity by having robots climb a hundred mile carbon nanotube cable and also being able to send enormous amounts of photovoltaic energy earthward safely from huge solar arrays.
By the way, pluviculture comes from the Latin word, “pluvia,” meaning rain. I wasn’t familiar with the root, but should have guessed, as “lluvia,” is Spanish for rain.
Here’s the background stuff for this posting.
David Starr Jordan, 1926 Science article, “The Art of Pluviculture”
Montara Creek watershed is approximately 1,085 acres. Montara Creek is fed by
several springs at its headwaters with a flow of about 70 GPM. The headwater streams
are in a steep and rugged portion of a canyon; it is estimated that these streams are at
an elevation of 800 feet. The upper portion of Montara Creek has two branches. The
North fork has a watershed area of 290 acres and consists of a small stream. Montara
Creek has discontinuous summer flows through a swale or very shallow alluvial channel
with relatively undifferentiated banks for about 1,000 feet on the valley bottom. The
valley bottom of the north canyon of Montara creek is farmed, except for a spring fed 1.5
acre wetland, directly west of Montara Creek at 350 feet elevation, and riparian corridor
along the Creek. Downstream from the wetland, Montara Creek channel becomes
increasingly evident and articulated, eventually incising about 10 feet into the floor of the
valley. From this point downstream, the creek flows continuously during summers and
winter dry spells, likely gaining flow from alluvial seepage as it descends (about 50
vertical feet over a distance of 900 lateral feet) to where the north fork joins the south
fork of Montara Creek. Downstream of this confluence, the channel is well defined.
About 2800 feet downstream of the confluence, a florist operates an on-line permanent
dam and small reservoir (agricultural pond) (Balance 2005).
In his free time he read about “pluviculture” and began to develop his own methods for producing rain. By 1902 he had created a secret mixture of 23 chemicals in large galvanized evaporating tanks that, he claimed, attracted rain. Hatfield called himself a “moisture accelerator”.
In 1904, promoter Fred Binney began a public relations campaign for Hatfield. A number of Los Angeles ranchers saw his ads in newspapers and promised Hatfield $50 to produce rain. In April, Hatfield and his brother Paul climbed to Mount Lowe and built a tower where Hatfield stood and released his mixture into the air. Hatfield’s apparent attempt was successful, so the ranchers paid him $100.
Contemporary Weather Bureau reports stated that the rain had been a small part of a storm that was already coming but Hatfield’s supporters disregarded this. He began to receive more job offers. He promised Los Angeles 18 inches (46 centimetres) of rain, apparently succeeded, and collected a fee of $1000. For this effort, Hatfield had built his tower on the grounds of the Esperanza Sanitarium in Altadena, near Rubio Canyon.
In 1906 Hatfield was invited to Alaska, where he agreed to provide rain for $10,000. This attempt was unsuccessful and Hatfield slipped out after he had collected $1100 for his expenses. This failure did not deter his supporters.
In 1915 the San Diegocity council, pressured by the San Diego Wide Awake Improvement Club, approached Hatfield to produce rain to fill the Morena Damreservoir. Hatfield offered to produce rain for free, then charge $1,000 per inch ($393.7 per centimetre) for between forty to fifty inches (1.02 to 1.27 m) and free again over fifty inches (1.27 m). The council voted four to one for a $10,000 fee, payable when the reservoir was filled. Hatfield, with his brother, built a 20-foot (6 m) tower beside Lake Morena and was ready early in the New Year.
On January 5, 1916 heavy rain began – and grew gradually heavier day by day. Dry riverbeds filled to the point of flooding. Worsening floods destroyed bridges, marooned trains and cut phone cables – not to mention flooding homes and farms. Two dams, Sweetwater Dam and one at Lower Otay Lake, overflowed. Rain stopped January 20 but resumed two days later. On January 27 Lower Otay Dam broke, increasing the devastation and reportedly causing about 20 deaths (accounts vary on the exact number).
Hatfield talked to the press on February 4 and said that the damage was not his fault and that the city should have taken adequate precautions. Hatfield had fulfilled the requirements of his contract – filling the reservoir – but the city council refused to pay the money unless Hatfield would accept liability for damages; there were already claims worth $3.5 million. Besides, there was no written contract. Hatfield tried to settle for $4000 and then sued the council. In two trials, the rain was ruled an act of God but Hatfield continued the suit until 1938 when the court threw the case out.
Hatfield claimed at least 500 successes. According to later commentators, Hatfield’s successes were mainly due to his meteorological skill and sense of timing, selecting periods where there was a high probability of rain anyway.
1916: January 13, Lakeside lost 21 houses besides barns, silos, water tanks and out-buildings. Railroad tracks from Santee to Lakeside were washed out, and the railroad and wagon road were gone from Lakeside to Foster. The Cuyamaca Flume lost about six miles of flume. Mr. Gay of the Lakeside Inn opened doors to homeless flood victims. The second storm hit January 26. The rainfall total from January 13 through January 27 was 16 inches;
Gala Holiday Sale and First Anniversary Celebration! With December comes colder weather and festive holiday celebrations. This month also marks Kelly Street Gallery’s first anniversary and, to celebrate, you’re all invited to our holiday-themed sale! The sale takes place on Sunday, December 6 from 2 to 5 in the afternoon and will feature the artist’s signature work in addition to cards, silk scarves, books, posters and ornament creations designed to match the holiday season. We will also be providing homemade treats, warm apple cider and wine of course! The gallery’s located at 751 Kelly Street in Half Moon Bay (one block east of Main and Kelly streets). Remember, we are open every Sunday from 12 to 5 so stop by and see us!
Deborah Brown Penrose
Jennifer Clark Susan Friedman’s “Wings and Hooves” Last month, Susan’s opening drew a large crowd of horse lovers, artists and art aficionados. Gallery visitors showed particular interested in Susan’s latest short film. Work on the five-minute feature on horse motion is still in progress, but Susan says she hopes to have it installed in a museum and will keep us updated on her progress. Art & horse lovers peruse Susan’s work at her recent show “Wings and Hooves.”
Susan Friedman (right) chats with gallery visitors at the opening reception.
Artist Jan Tiura will be leaving the gallery by the end of the year. She will be greatly missed!
Text & Images by Carina WoudenbergOrnament design by Deborah Brown Penrose
That’s jewelry designer Paula Martin’s steering wheel and we’ve been continuing our adventure. I stayed overnight at Falling Leaves B&B at romantic Lake Wanaka (where the owner, Jo’s, water comes from her own well and tastes delicious. I can’t say I’ve ever enjoyed such good, pure water.) Paula, who is dedicated to her art and commitments, continued on to remote Nokomai, the scene of the last “fete,” reached by driving down a very long dusty road off a main highway quite a ways south of Queenstown.
The next morning Jo drove me in her jeep from Lake Wanaka to Nokomai via the spectacular Crown Range route a narrow two-lane road with views not to missed. During the ride through the high mountains, Jo regaled me with stories of the Kiwi, a naughty bird that gets bored living near the snowy mountains and entertains itself by disturbing the material possessions of humans. The Kiwi bird enjoys removing windshields from cars, laces from shoes, and if there’s a laptop accessible, they will take it away. I hoped I wouldn’t encounter the Kiwi but I was assured the bird was “funny.”
No wind when we arrived at the fete in Nokomai sponsored by “CRT,” a farmer cooperative operating in the South Island. Remember, the day before we were at Queensbury when mammoth-sized winds hit and most of the exhibitors had to pull up their gazebos and exit quickly. Not so at Nokomai where the weather was perfect, sunny and warm. As Paula says, when the weather’s good, people open their wallets and she did quite well on Saturday.
AT 5:30 p.m. we left Nokomai, driving down the dusty road to the main “highway,” and headed south for the funky Riverton, a town that should definitely be scouted for scenes in movies. Paula was excited about Riverton because she had lived there way back and told me about the “Globe Hotel,” where I would be staying. She would be sleeping in the camper van in the back of the very hotel that is for sale.
Riverton remains the kind of place that has not been developed yet. This is Scott the owner’s son who works at the Globe Hotel’s bar.
The next morning, Sunday, we had breakfast and coffee at Mrs. Clark’s Cafe in Riverton. Next we headed for the Fjords Great Views Holiday Park in Te Anua. Along the way we stopped at unique beaches with names like Monkey Rock where we met Mr. Watson who owns the historic house called called “the Turrets.” Paula had seen the turret house many times on her working drives during the Christmas season–but she had never gotten close enough to knock on the door. This time we did and we met Mr. and Mrs. Watson, who five grown children and 16 grandchildren. Mr. Watson’s passion is the history of the home he has lived in since 1960. He married the following year. “The Turrets” has been featured in local history books and newspaper articles and Mr. Watson loves giving tours of the house and garden both Watsons have lovingly tended. In the darkened hallway there are oil paintings of Mr. Watson’s ancestors and he knows the stories behind all the nearby beaches like Monkey Rock (named so, because during the gold mining days, food and supplies were shipped down the coast and raised up a big rock with a monkey wench. Think I got that one right.
On the way to Te Anua, which isn’t exactly on the West Coast, but sort of close by, we stopped at a place called Tuatapere, where I had a little lunch, a cornish pastie, coffee and dessert.
Paula drove us off the road to see some incredible beaches with names like Cozy Nook and Monkey Rock You’ve probably heard that New Zealand looks like Northern California, and there are “familiar sights,” but here in NZ all is more more natural, more raw as Northern California beaches may have appeared a century earlier. I’ve never been around so much nature in my life.
Last night which was Sunday in NZ, I stayed at the Fjordland Great Views Holiday Park—if you’ve never stayed in a motor park, NZ must have the finest. This is my first experience sleeping in a camper van and sleeping in rooms with and without bath at the motor parks we visit. Fjordland Great Views at Te Anau is stunning. I stayed in cabin #10. Behind my room which had a double bunk, tv and portable heater, there was a view of a field of sheep. [Of course, sheep can be seen all over NZ; still, to have them so close to my cabin was a visual treat.] What bowled me over was the ladies loo. Could have been part of a luxury hotel. There is a heated floor and it’s been pretty cold in the mornings when I wake up–that icy kind of cold that comes with lakes after the snow has melted from the mountains. Paula Martin knows the motor parks and which ones are the finest; she has made friends with many of the owners as well and knows which ones take their business seriously. Fjord Great Views Holiday Parks is the most impressive motor park I’ve stayed at on this unpredictable adventure.
Later today we head back to the tiny place called Arrowtown where Paula has an appointment with a store owner. She made a good sale this morning here in Te Anau.
I was having a bit of a hard time, being so far from home, without Burt, my longtime companion who passed away earlier this year. We did everything together and were rarely apart. You know, it’s not easy suddenly being cut in half. Sometimes I can’t find me.
In Queenstown, Paula Martin, my guide here in NZ, has a favorite coffee place called “The Grind”: it’s located in the industrial part of town. Meet Ben who owns “the Grind<‘ a cafe-bar with “the Remarkables” as a backdrop.
Today was a great day. Paula Martin and I slept at a motor camp near beautiful Lake Wanaka, which must remind Europeans of the Alps. Very early in the morning we took off for Queensberry, which once was a sheep station. Weather is always a main topic in NZ and we had heard about the expected mammoth winds and they arrived after lunch. Big bursts of air that took down everything in their path. Some of the exhibitors left early because their gazebos were collapsing. Paula and I dismantled her set-up early as well–it takes a long time to do it right and Paula has everything organized and nothing can be done out of order. It takes a couple of hours to pack up; hard work with mighty winds to contend with as well.
Across the road from Queensberry there were plenty of sheep grazing in pasture framed by a beautiful mountain scene. Paula was going to set up her gazebo at this Victorian “fete” in the most spectacular of surroundings–all the people selling put up their gazebos in between huge white rose bushes. Hundreds of white rose bushes. Seems that the flowers we have back in El Granada grow to twice the size here in New Zealand.
[Image below: Paula setting up] I’m going out to dinner and maybe will have rabbit pie at an interesting pub/hotel in Wanaka. I enjoyed my “Betty Wilson’s Seafood chowder.”
The day before we visited Chard Winery, accessible by driving over a narrow cliff-side road. At Chard, Dave is the man in charge of wine tastiing. Nearby was the bridge where bungy jumping started. On the flight from Auckland to Queenstown, I sat [way in the back of the plane] next to A. J. Hackett, the founder of bungy jumping all over the world. When I told him I most likely was not going to give it a try, he wanted to change my mind. But I was “a hard case.”
Tomorrow, Saturday here in NZ, I’ll meet up with Paula two hours away in a remote area where she’s setting up her silver jewelry at another “fete.” Jo, the owner of “Falling Leaves” has goats [the one in the image with Paula is called “Rasberry”] and black pigs on her ten acre property.
But I broke my Canon camera. Just tumbled out of my hands, hit the ground and cracked, in a quaint old gold mining village called Arrowtown. (Still have my Flip & camera phone…)
It’s lovely today but we may hit gale force winds on our long drive from Queenstown to a “fete” or fair near Wanaka. I’ll be helping Paula set up; after that show we head in the opposite direction to do another. Her van reminds me of an old Volkswagon bus, you get the picture? It’s be tough going in the van fighting GALE force winds.
John Vonderlin: Hi June. Here’s the answers for your photo. The experts have done it again. That was fun. Enjoy. John
Hi John [Schmale],
June sent me the photo of Montara Creek and the strange rail-like device suspended over it a while ago. Mr. Perkovic sent me an email after I sent him the picture and this is my reply. I’ll forward that to you next. Any thoughts about whether this could be OSRR or something else. Do you have a good picture of their sidehill trestles in this area? I’ve been unable to find a good picture of one. As you can see from my reply to Paul, I’m dubious this is the OSR rails, but rather unsure. I wish the picture was better resolution. Enjoy. John [Vonderlin]
Thanks for forwarding that photo.
I can only offer the following hypothesis: The view appears to be looking towards the west, with the main building of the lighthouse complex on the left, the foghorn building (with twin exhaust vents) in the center, and the smaller building that is now part of the hostel on the right. There appear also to be several smaller buildings on the west side of the strange rails. The viewing location seems to be at about the same level as the gound floor of the buildings. And the “strange rails” appear to be the Ocean Shore Railroad, suspended.
Highway 1 currently crosses Montara Creek with a culvert providing passage for the creek, and a significant amount of fill forming the base for the roadway. I suspect that the Ocean Shore Railroad might have also had an embankment or fill in the same location (rather than a trestle to span the creek), but with inadequate drainage capacity, and that a major flood washed out the fill. There are no signs of any trestle members still attached to the crossties, whereas fill and normal gravel bedding would simply wash out.
Maybe there is something in one of the Ocean Shore Railroad histories. I’ll keep this in mind as I wander around the area, and see if I can find an appropriate location for a photo.
Thanks for your thoughts. And the efforts to take the pictures you sent. I’m going to send the original picture on to a couple of OSRR experts who often can help us solve questions. I’ve attached several ScreenShots of photos from Californiacoastline.org. from the 70s and 80s of the creek area. I’ve also attached a trestle index from Jack Wagner’s book, “The Last Whistle.” It shows no trestle from McNee to Pillarcitos. None of the stated lengths of the trestles without a set location are even close to the apparent length of the suspended stretch that is visible in the photo. There are 70 plus ties visible or about 100 feet. Given the absence of any close slope to where the rails disappear to left and right on the photo I’m thinking a 150 foot minimum. That’s if we were looking at railroad tie spacing of about 18 inches. Many of them aren’t well-spaced or as parallel to each other as they should be, even after a flood that had undermined their footing. In some places there are sections with a number of widely spaced ties in a row, which is hard to do without bunching elsewhere, which I don’t see. Other places the ties have alternate slants, which would seem to be hard to duplicate without them being loose from the spikes. Then there is the weight of that much railing…how is it strung so straight across the gap, with so little bowing to gravity? How does unwelded rail stay together with that pull on it?
The following excerpt from an old newspaper article about the Spring Valley Water Works hints at a possible pipe or flume support spanning a gap that sounds like this same circumstance. Could that “rail” assemblage have supported an iron pipe across the gap before the flood? Or was one to be installed but the rain delayed it? Did Montara ever have a waterline running down from the north along the coast road? Either a flume or iron pipe?
. Thanks for your help in solving this puzzle. I’ll notify you of developments. Enjoy. John
“until it reaches what is known as the San Andres Valley, which it crosses by a heavy iron pipe, a distance of about fifteen hundred feet, and thence the level is undisturbed into town. A similar pipe, or perhaps a wire suspension bridge will be needed at the gap next the Abbey, known as the “Portasuelo,” for the flume to pass over.”
Hi John et al,
The photo in Wagner’s book shows the the Ocean Shore RR tracks at Montara following a flood caused by a very intense storm. The storm water backed up behind the railroad fill to a depth of over 40 feet. On January 13, 1916 the clogged culvert passing under the railroad fill was blown up using dynamite. The resulting torrent of water tore away the railroad embankment as well of that of the highway. The photo was taken after the fact showing the tracks suspended in air. The tracks are bolted together through “fish plates.” A trestle was built to replace the fill. Many slides up and down the line closed the Ocean Shore for over a month. I hope this helps
The local water company installed a dam in the creek just up stream from the Ocean Shore Railroad tracks
Hi, John. Thanks for your email and attachments re above. Info I find on the Internet is that on mainline track (in 1988) ties were spaced at 19.5″ centers and somewhat more on sidings, yard tracks, etc. What standards applied in the early 1900s I don’t know, and whether the OS followed them with any precision I’d say is doubtful.
The reason the washed out rails hold together is that fish plates (metal bars with bolts) hold the rail ends together as intact units– see the picture under fish plate in Wikipedia. I sometime ago found a story and picture of the (I believe) same washed out trestle and the Montara flood (dumb me, don’t think I kept it; but will recheck my OS Favorites and if find will forward. I believe this was the trestle at McNee; extremely unlikely this is the southernmost step or sidehill trestle, which type had one side of the track supported by the hill or mountain and the other side by pilings/trestle-work, and it is not the Pilarcitos trestle at Half Moon Bay. Since the Trestles page in Wagner’s OS book stems from the 1911 Bondholders Report of the Ocean Shore Railway and if the flood was prior to that date (was it 1909?) then the replacement trestle may have been somewhat shorter or longer depending on embankments at the ends. Incidentally, when I replied on a recent email to John Schmale and cc’d to you and June, I wished John and his wife a Happy Thanksgiving, but neglected to include you and June. It’s not too late, and so Happy Thanksgiving to you John and to your mother, and to June. Angelo