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Cuyamaca Water Company Records
MSS 503  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Historical Background
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Cuyamaca Water Company Records
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 503
    Contributing Institution: Mandeville Special Collections Library
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 35.95 Linear feet (6 archive boxes, 26 oversized folders)
    Date (inclusive): 1867 - 1938
    Abstract: Records of the Cuyamaca Water Company, formerly the San Diego Flume Company, which was owned and operated by Colonel Ed Fletcher and Montana businessman James A. Murray from June 1, 1910, until its sale to the La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Spring Valley Irrigation District on January 4, 1926. The Cuyamaca Water Company Records contain typescripts of reports; water rights contracts transferred from the San Diego Flume Company; technical drawings of flumes, siphons, pumping stations, concrete pipes, and forebays; and maps of flume routes, dam locations, proposed dam locations, subdivisions, and the watershed of the San Diego River. A substantial number of the reports relate to the El Capitan Dam and Reservoir Project and the legal controversy surrounding that project. The strength of this collection, however, lies in the maps and technical drawings series, which cartographically documents the growth of the water company. The subdivision maps evidence the growth of the eastern central portion of San Diego as it developed from an agricultural province to a burgeoning residential area. This collection reflects material that was primarily generated and employed by the managers and engineers in the field, and is complemented by the material in the Fletcher Family Papers (MSS 81), which document the administration of the Cuyamaca Water Company.
    Creator: Cuyamaca Water Company.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The records of the Cuyamaca Water Company include typescript reports, contracts, water rights documents, technical drawings, and maps used for San Diego land and water development from the late 1800s to the mid-1930s. The Cuyamaca Water Company Records are arranged in three series: 1) REPORTS, STUDIES AND SUMMARIES; 2) WATER RIGHTS AND CONTRACTS and 3) MAPS AND TECHINICAL DRAWINGS.
    The strength of this collection is the MAPS AND TECHNICAL DRAWINGS series with over three hundred twenty-five maps and technical drawings documenting the early development of San Diego County water resources. Of particular interest is the material, both maps and typescript reports, related to the condemnation suit brought against the Cuyamaca Water Company by the City of San Diego.
    This collection complements the BUSINESS RECORDS series of the FLETCHER FAMILY PAPERS (MSS 81), which contain numerous folders relating to the Cuyamaca Water Company, such as correspondence, reports, studies, and summaries. The inclusive dates of the Cuyamaca Water Company Records are 1867-1938; however, the bulk of the material dates from 1910-1925.
    SERIES 1: REPORTS, STUDIES AND SUMMARIES
    This series contains typescript reports, arranged alphabetically, related to the operation and development of the Cuyamaca Water Company that describe and detail the structures and holdings of the Cuyamaca Water Company and efforts to expand and improve the system. A significant number of reports are related to the City of San Diego's attempt to have the Cuyamaca Water Company condemned, particularly the folders titled: "Act of Congress Granting El Capitan Land to the City of San Diego," "Data on El Capitan" and "El Capitan Dam Sites - Core Drill Records and Profiles," as well as the folders relating to valuation, depreciation, rate hearings, and the Rail Road Commission. Also of interest are the reports entitled "Original Cost of the Cuyamaca Water Company" and both folders titled "Description of the Cuyamaca Water System - Harritt," which relate the chronological history of the water system from 1886 to 1926 and the improvements made to this point as well as expected expansion of the system. The original titles of the reports were preserved whenever possible.
    SERIES 2: WATER RIGHTS AND CONTRACTS
    This series documents the extant riparian and water rights purchased by the San Diego Flume Company and later transfered to the Cuyamaca Water Company. The folders titled "Water Rights: Contracts and Deeds Book" document the water rights of the San Diego Flume Company and the Cuyamaca Water Company with their customers. The contracts and deeds are arranged in the original order they were filed with deed numbers often out of numerical order. Also included is an index, arranged alphabetically, that lists the name of the water rights owner and the page number location of the contract.
    SERIES 3: MAPS AND TECHNICAL DRAWINGS
    This series is comprised of seven subseries: A) General Systems; B) Subdivisions; C) Dams and Reservoirs Built; D) Dams and Reservoirs, Not Built; E) Flume Routes, Flumes, Siphons, and Tunnels; F) Technical Drawings; and, G) Pumps and Wells. The MAPS AND TECHNICAL DRAWINGS series is the most extensive series of the collection, and meticulously documents the watershed of the Cuyamaca Water Company and its improvements, whether actualized or anticipated. The maps are arranged in alphabetical order within subseries, and the map numbers, when provided, have been included. The map numbers can be cross referenced with an index located in box numbers 83 and 84 of the Fletcher Family Papers (MSS 81). The maps are generally blueprint, diazo photoprints, ink on paper, or ink on linen.
    A) The General Systems subseries contains maps that provide the broadest overview of the Cuyamaca Water Company's watershed, including several maps that reveal the entire watershed of the Cuyamaca Water Company.
    B) The Subdivisions subseries contains the greatest number of maps in this series and complements the General Systems maps offering detailed views of new residential development within the watershed of the Cuyamaca Water Company.
    C) The Dams and Reservoirs Built subseries contains maps of dams and reservoirs that may or may not have been built during the tenure of the Cuyamaca Water Company, but were developed during this period and eventually completed. Included in this subseries are the following dams and reservoirs: El Capitan, Eucalyptus, Grossmont, La Mesa, Old Mission, and San Vicente. The El Capitan and San Vicente Dams and Reservoirs are the most notable projects that were developed but not completed until the company was sold.
    D) The Dams and Reservoirs, Not Built subseries contains maps from projects that were being developed but never actualized. The most notable projects are the Boulder Creek Dam and Conduit and the Mission Gorge Dam and Reservoir.
    E) The Flume Routes, Flumes, Siphons, and Tunnels subseries contains maps detailing the development, improvement and operation of the Cuyamaca Flume and its numerous siphons, trestles and tunnels. There are several maps of the El Capitan Dam and Reservoir site relating to the condemnation suit leveled against the Cuyamaca Water Company by the City of San Diego.
    F) The Technical Drawings subseries contains drawings of equipment and structures developed and employed by the Cuyamaca Water Company. There are a number of drawings pertaining to flume construction, development and improvement.
    D) The Pumps and Wells subseries contains maps relating to the development and construction of a number of pumps and wells within the Cuyamaca Water Company system.
    RELATED COLLECTIONS
    The Fletcher Family Papers, 1870-1955 (MSS 81).

    Historical Background

    On June 1, 1910, Colonel Ed Fletcher and Montana businessman James A. Murray purchased the San Diego Flume Company for $150,000, renaming it the Cuyamaca Water Company. The initial purchase transferred all water rights and properties owned and managed by the San Diego Flume Company to the Cuyamaca Water Company, including the Cuyamaca Reservoir and Dam, the Diverting Dam, Eucalyptus Reservoir, La Mesa Reservoir (later renamed Murray Reservoir), and the thirty-six mile Cuyamaca flume line, which ran parallel just east and south of the San Diego River from the Diverting Dam, located on the San Diego River just below the junction of the Boulder Creek, to the Eucalyptus Reservoir, located near present day La Mesa.
    The Cuyamaca Water Company was one of several water companies servicing the greater San Diego area at this time. At the time of purchase from the San Diego Flume Company, the Cuyamaca Water Company was furnishing irrigation water to Ex-Mission Rancho, Rancho El Cajon and domestic water to a portion of the City of San Diego. Fletcher and Murray expanded the areas serviced by the Cuyamaca Water Company to include La Mesa, East San Diego and El Cajon; by 1924 the Cuyamaca Water Company was furnishing between 65,000 and 70,000 people with water, both for irrigation and domestic purposes.
    Fletcher and Murray owned and operated the Cuyamaca Water Company for 15 years, making or planning several improvements to the existing system, including the construction of the San Vicente Dam and Reservoir, the El Capitan Dam and Reservoir, the Mission Gorge Dam and Reservoir (which was never realized) and the purchase of the El Monte Pumping Station. The most ambitious and controversial of these projects was the El Capitan Dam and Reservoir, which, from its conception, was met with resistence from the City of San Diego. After the Cuyamaca Water Company secured the land intended for the El Capitan Dam and Reservoir, the City of San Diego filed to condemn the Cuyamaca Water Company in an effort to stifle any further development, usurp its water rights and acquire the company at a nominal price. The City of San Diego appealled to the Rail Road Commission to fix a valuation on the Cuyamaca Water Company, which was determined to be $745,000. The City of San Diego, however, declined to exercise its right to purchase the company and dropped the suit. Despite the efforts of Fletcher and Murray, the El Capitan Dam and Reservoir project was not completed until 1935. Many of the projects initiated by the Cuyamaca Water Company were not completed until after the company was sold.
    The initial financial arrangement between Murray and Fletcher saw Murray as the principal financier of the Cuyamaca Water Company, owning 5/6 of the company, and Fletcher owning the remaining 1/6 and managing the company. In 1915 William G. Henshaw, a San Diego businessman instrumental in helping to build the Lake Hodges Dam with Fletcher, purchased one half of Fletcher's 1/6 interest in the Cuyamaca Water Company. The three men attempted to sell the Cuyamaca Water Company to the City of San Diego and the La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Spring Valley Irrigation District on several occassions without success. Eventually, Colonel Ed Fletcher sold the Cuyamaca Water Company to the La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Spring Valley Irrigation District for $1,400,000 on January 4, 1926.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.

    Preferred Citation

    Cuyamaca Water Company Records, MSS 503. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

    Acquisition Information

    Not Available

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Spring Valley Irrigation District
    Murray, James A.
    San Diego Flume Company.
    Dams--California--San Diego County--Design and construction
    Irrigation -- California -- San Diego County -- History
    Maps -- San Diego County -- 20th Century.
    Pipelines -- California -- San Diego County -- Design and construction
    Reservoirs -- California -- San Diego County -- Design and construction
    San Diego County (Calif.)--Maps
    Water -- California -- San Diego County
    Water -- California -- San Diego County -- Maps
    Water resources development -- California -- San Diego County
    Water resources development -- California -- San Diego County -- Maps
    Water-supply--California--San Diego County
    Water-supply--California--San Diego County--Maps