John Vonderlin: 1895/ Plans to Harness Coastside Creeks for Electricity

Story from John Vonderlin

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Hi June,

   This September 9th, 1895, article from the “Call,” lays

out the theoretical plans of that time, to harvest the hydro-

power potential of the Coastside. The mentioning of how

the water of the streams is “running to waste” by going

into the ocean, tells a lot about policymakers’ attitudes

of that era.

Enjoy. John



Those on the Ocean Side to

Be Used to Generate



There Are at Least Nine Good

Streams Available for that



REDWOOD CITY, Cal., Sept. 8.— The

question of a water supply sufficient to

generate electric power is being considered

by practical men who have recently visited

the coast side of San Mateo County. The

possibilities of the Pillarcitos, Purissimo,(sic)

Lobitas, Tunitas, San Gregorio, Pomponia,

(sic) Pescadero, Britano (sic) and Gazas (sic)

creeks have been under consideration with a

view of putting in dams and dynamos to gen-

erate power for an electric railroad to connect

the coastside towns with San Francisco;

also with reference to the transmission of

electric power to San Francisco for general


These streams of water rise among the

mountains at intervals of every few miles

and run to and empty into the ocean.

With the exception of the San Francis-

quito and San Mateo creeks, they find no

counterpart on the bay side of the county.

Heretofore these waters on the ocean

side have been considered most valuable

as being part of the available supply for

the domestic uses of San Francisco. The

Spring Valley Water Works is a large

owner of lands and water rights on several

of these steams, although all the great

lakes of the Spring Valley storage system

lie on the easterly or bay side of the


   The people of the coast side have waited

many years to learn if additional uses

might not develop, so that the immense

water supply running to waste in the

ocean could be brought under control and

made to produce revenue. The creation

and transmission of electic power may

bring about this result, and also develop

an electric railway system that will place

one of the most charming sections of the

coast within less than an hour’s ride of

San Francisco.