Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Rare Look at Venerable Peninsula Dam

Approximately 50 Filoli Estate members and supporters had a rare look at the base of 127-year-old Lower Crystal Springs Dam and the nearby newly constructed pump house. The site was a featured stop on a special Centennial Tour in celebration of the historic preserve’s 100-year mark. John Fournet, Natural Resources Division community liaison was host and interpreter. 

The 1888 Lower Crystal Springs Dam is the product of our predecessor, the private water utility Spring Valley Water Company. Noted for its gravity-arch design and interlocking concrete block structure—both innovations at the time—the dam withstood the great earthquakes of 1906 and 1989 with no damage. 

The tour ended at Pulgas Water Temple where the group met watershed keeper Jim  Barkenhus for a tour of the temple and channel into Crystal Springs Reservoir.  The popular beaux arts temple is a monument to the birth of the Hetch Hetchy Water System in 1934, when a throng of jubilant San Franciscans gathered near the edge of Crystal Springs Reservoir to witness the sight of the first Sierra waters rushing into the Bay Area.  

Neighboring Filoli Estate is home to a 1915 landmark mansion that was originally the country residence of Spring Valley Water Company board president William Bourn. It was Bourn who commissioned the design of the system’s first beaux art water temple, the 1910 Sunol Water Temple in the East Bay. For Bourn, that kind of majestic classic structure was a fitting tribute to what he saw as the nobility and sheer beauty of Spring Valley’s mission—the supply of clean, plentiful water


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