Museum of the City of San Francisco
By Subject
By Year
The Gift Shop

Hearing before the Senate Committee on Public Lands (Sixty-third Congress, First Session) on H.R. 7207, a bill "granting to the city and county of San Francisco certain rights of way in, over, and through certain public lands, the Yosemite National Park and Stanislaus National Forest, and certain lands in the Yosemite National Park, the Stanislaus National Forest, and the public lands in the state of California, and for other purposes."
Mr. Lehane. You can absolutely take every drop of water that comes in at the Hetch Hetchy Dam away from us, and you will do it when you pass this bill, because there is no law by which we can reach for it. While it is not technically and legally within the control of Congress, it is absolutely within your control, because you have it in your power to say whether anybody can build a dam there or not.

Senator Thomas. But you have no rights to any additional water there. How would you get that additional water?

Mr. Lehane. We can file on it. San Francisco can file on it. We can just keep on filing until we get the water. You have it in your power to say who gets it.

Senator Pittman. I mean, in other words, you want us to prevent the perfection of the fillings of San Francisco?

Mr. Lehane. We want you to give the water to us instead of giving it to them.

Senator Pittman. That means the same thing. You simply put it in different language.

Mr. Lehane. Yes.

Senator Pittman. You want us to interfere by not granting the privilege of building this dam, which in substance will bar San Francisco from perfecting their water rights there?

Mr. Lehane. As a matter of fact, we are making our claims on the broad proposition that we are tributary to the Tuolumne River and San Francisco is not entitled to that water. This Congress has the power to give us that water and it has the power to say who shall take that water. Why do you not say to San Francisco, "Go to the Sacramento River"? They can get the water in the Sacramento River. We can not go anywhere else. If we had three or four sources of supply we would not feel badly about it.

In that connection I would like to say this: I would like to take one afternoon with the representatives of San Francisco on the Sacramento River. It is all right to talk to us people about the Sacramento River, about the danger of interfering with navigation by taking water for irrigation. Is there not a bill before you now to appropriate money to build works to keep the flood waters from ruining the Sacramento Valley?

Representative Raker. Is not that true also in respect to the San Joaquin River?

Mr. Lehane. No. We have only 18 inches of water in the San Joaquin River. In 1907 and 1908, and about every second year, or third year, in the spring, they are flooded for miles and miles in the Sacramento Valley and the Sacramento River overflows its banks.

Representative Raker. Now, I know you want to get the facts right before this committee. There is a bill pending to take care of the flood waters of the San Joaquin Valley and of the Sacramento Valley. The water goes down there and floods both valleys at the lower end.

Mr. Lehane. Gentlemen of the committee, to me seems like a joke. There is a lot land in the San Joaquin Valley that is flooded in the flood time, but in a few years every available site where the water can be stored in the San Joaquin Valley is going to be used. They talk about taking ships up there; they can take them up in the winter; but don't you know that our water of California is so valuable for irrigation that they use every bit of it?

Senator Thomas. That is what has perplexed me somewhat. When you state you have such an enormous quantity of water. I can not understand why you do not use it.

Mr. Lehane. The Sacramento Valley has seven or eight feet on the level. I think they have 23 inches of rainfall as against 10 inches on the San Joaquin. If there is anything under high heaven more preposterous than another it is the proposition that to take water from the Sacramento River would interfere with navigation. You ought to see that river. I have been in California six or seven years now and three times the amount of volume of water goes down the Sacramento River than goes down the San Joaquin River. There is as much water that comes down by Red Bluff almost as there is in the whole San Joaquin Valley-over 10,000,000 second-feet.

Mr. Ransdell. I notice that the Army board reporting on the Hetch Hetchy, dated February 13, 1913, says this among other things:

The board further believes that there will be sufficient water if adequatelystored and economically used to satisfy both the reasonable demands of thebay communities and the reasonable demands of the Turlock-Modesto irrigationdistrict for the remainder of this century.
What have you to say about that?

Mr. Lehane. I will say that this is the same board that said that that 8 feet of water that averages in the Sacramento Valley, with 20 inches of additional water that falls from the heavens, was not enough to use both irrigation and for navigation in that river.

Senator Ransdell. In other words, you think the board is mistaken?

Mr. Lehane. I don't think it; I know it; because I live on the Tuolumne watershed and I know how much water is in there. You talk about there being enough.

Mr. Ransdell. I don't know anything about it, of course. I live where we have too much water, on the lower Mississippi River. I am simply asking these questions for information.

Mr. Lehane. Sixty per cent of that water which flows over the La Orange Dam is back of the dams, and that means that San Francisco would have 60 per cent of the water that we need back of her dams and we can not help it.

Now, as I have said twice before, there is only one way in which you can find out about this thing. If you will appoint a committee and authorize them to go out and investigate the conditions out there, you will find all these things I am stating to be true. No man living at this distance; no man living away off here in the east can understand these things. Even some of the people out home don't understand them. I do not care whether the Congressmen or the Senators from home say that report is right, I live on the watershed of the Tuolumne River and I know what the conditions are. I know one thing, and that is that there will never again be another united delegation to favor this measure. If San Francisco does not get it through now, she will never get it through, and she knows it. She knows it too well.

The Chairman. I want to finish some time before to-morrow morning.

Representative Raker. If you are through with your statement, the proponents of this bill will set forth their side of the case. They will be very brief.

Mr. Lehane. I want to thank the chairman and the members of the committee for their courtesy in listening to my statement.

Representative Raker. I would like to have five minutes for Mr. Church and five minutes for myself, and we will give San Francisco the balance.


The Chairman. All right, you may proceed, Mr. Church.

Representative Raker. Mr. Church is from the San Joaquin district and he is familiar with this entire question.

Mr. Church. Originally I was very much opposed to this plan. I had heard of this Hetch Hetchy matter for years and years; I had heard that Mr. Needham was fighting for the rights of the irrigation districts and the people. When I came to Washington this spring the battle was on in reference to the Hetch Hetchy and, very fortunately, certain representatives from these districts came here. Their names were as follows: Hon. L. W. Fulkerth, superior judge of Stanislaus County, wherein is located both these irrigation districts, in a way. There were two representatives, two attorneys for these districts-the Stanislaus and the Modesto districts-also two engineers representing the districts who came here, Mr. Corey and Mr. Smith. Mr. Needham was also employed to represent the districts, and all these people came on here to Washington. All the interests they had on earth were involved and they were acquainted with the whole history of the case from start to finish.

I felt greatly relieved, because I knew that what they decided in relation to the matter would be for the best interest of the districts. They came here and they entered into an arrangement-an agreement. Those agreements are all embodied in this bill. They all agreed to them-the engineers, the attorneys, and the special representatives. They all agreed to the conditions that are now embodied in this bill. For that reason I withdrew any opposition that I had, and in view of the fact that these people who knew so much about the matter and had only the interests of the irrigation districts at heart advised me this way, I withdrew what little opposition I had manifested to the bill. I was very greatly pleased, gentlemen, when those men went back home to report, that the people back there ratified their work, and so I will just here read some telegrams that I have received, which I have published in your records and which are in the Congressional Record. Those telegrams are sent by people of standing in the community, and their position has been manifested by the gentlemen who represented them. I can see at once that, whatever course this committee pursues. I will be damned if they do, and I will also be damned if they don't.

Senator Thomas. So will the committee.

Mr. Church. Here is a telegram I received, dated August 13, 1913:

Modesto, Cal., August 13, 1913.
Denver S. Church, M. C.,
Washington, D.C.:

At a joint meeting of the board of directors of the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts held in Modesto this day the action of the committee sent to Washington to represent the districts was fully indorsed, and the Raker bill, as recommended by the House committee, was approved. The boards also passed resolutions requesting our Representatives in Congress to use their best efforts to pass such bill and oppose the passage of any bill granting San Francisco the Hetch Hetchy which does not contain provisions recognizing and protecting the rights of the districts in the Tuolumne watershed, as provided in the bill.

Stanislaus County Board of Trade passed resolutions on Monday night in effect that no further opposition would be made to the Raker bill. Some little opposition to the bill had been engendered by persons having special interests outside of the districts and by a few others who feel that the waters of the river should never be taken from the valley. People generally of the irrigation districts believe that under all the circumstances the Raker bill should be adopted without material amendment and that the strongest opposition should be made to any change in the bill which would eliminate any of the conditions in favor of the districts.
C. S. Abbott,
Secretary Joint Meeting of Directors
Modesto and Turlock Irrigation Districts.

P. H. Griffin.
Attorney Turlock Irrigation District.
E. R. Jones,
Attorney Modesto Irrigation District.
L. W. Fulkerth.

I will now read another telegram sent under date of August 12 of this year, which is as follows:
Hughson, Cal., August 12, 1913.
Hon. Denver S. Church, M. C.,
Washington, D.C.:

At a mass meeting of taxpayers and irrigators of Hughson section of the turlock irrigation district, the secretary of the meeting was instructed by resolution to wire you to vote for and use your influence for the immediate passage of the Raker bill as approved by our committee.

E. F. Sawdey, Secretary.

I have another one from Turlock dated August 14, 1913, which is as follows:
Turlock, Cal., August 14, 1913.
Denver S. Church,
House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.:

We, the committee appointed by a citizens mass meeting of the Turlock irrigation district, working in conjunction with the directors of said district, to hereby indorse the work of the representatives of the Turlock and Modesto irrigation districts sent to Washington for the purpose of protecting our rights is against the proposed claims of San Francisco, as set forth in a certain bill known as the Raker bill. We further ask our Representatives in Congress to support and vote for the said Raker bill, H. R. 7207, as reported out of the Public Lands Committee and now before Congress.

Unanimously carried.
H. C. Hoskins, Chairman.

Gentlemen, that is all I have to say; I thank you for your courtesy and attention.

Mr. Raker, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, my time will be brief, but I will apply myself principally to the objections to using the Hetch Hetchy for any and all purposes. The matters in connection with San Francisco's use of the water, with which I am somewhat familiar, will be ably presented by Mr. Freeman, who is here representing San Francisco and others.

This matter is familiar to me. I have been over practically all of this territory except right down on the floor of this valley. That entire country is in my district, and my people realizing the question of conservation and the question of utilizing not only the lands but the water, feel that under the conditions of this bill it ought to pass, because they believe it is one of the greatest pieces of constructive legislation the State of California has ever had. It utilizes the park in a proper way; it gives to the city and county of San Francisco the pure water it ought to have; it absolutely guarantees to these districts the permanent supply of water that they themselves by their committee and their representatives state they ought to have. The city and county of San Francisco stipulates that at all times they are to have their prior rights to the amount of water which they claim. Not only before the Public Lands Committee but for the last 10 years this has been claimed, and it is in the report of Secretary Garfield that is the amount they claim for their district. That has been before the Secretaries of the Interior and before the committees, and to avoid any question of litigation which this bill does not necessarily determine as to the actual rights, the city of San Francisco says. "Your claim is 2,350 feet or whatever it is."

Their rights are recognized and they are satisfied in that permit, and it is the testimony of all their representatives that is the amount of their prior right and prior claim.

Within the last month-not before the committee at this time- but in addition to that gentlemen who have represented these people have admitted that. They do not-Judge Fulkerth does not admit- and it is not said for a minute that they have ever used this entire amount of water, that they have ever had it running in their lines of ditches to its full capacity. It depends upon the floods: it depends upon the sun and the rain. You have to hold it back so that it fills your ditches, and that is the condition these people are trying to put in and whether there is little water or not there must always be sufficient water coming down to maintain for them this supply of 2,350 feet.

This bill further provides and says that the city and county of San Francisco must file their written consent with the Secretary of the Interior by their duly authorized authorities within a certain number of days after this bill is enacted into law or they do not get the grant. It makes no difference whether it is enacted into law or not.

I want to call the committee's attention to the question of conservation. I am surprised that these gentlemen who call themselves conservationists are not in favor of this bill. I suppose that Mr. Pinchot is the greatest conservationist in the United States. He came before our committee and he says that this bill to his mind is the acme of conservation in all its phases and all its conditions; as to preserving the park, as to the use of the water, and as to power purposes.

In addition to that this water has been running to waste for years, and will continue to run to waste, unless the dam is in there. It will run off into the San Joaquin River and the Sacramento River and then into the sea. Why, we have seen the floods of this river at Sacramento slopping upon the depot steps at flood time. Then they say they do not flood the San Joaquin Valley. Part of that same water when it is flooded backs clear up the Sacramento River. That is the condition in California at flood times now. Every Californian knows that for six weeks the water runs off the mountains in torrential floods and unless we store it it goes to waste. Now let me take up another thing. Part of this territory is owned by the city and county of San Francisco, part by the Government. The gentlemen admit they can not get it. They could not condemn that land because the use for city purposes is higher than the use for agricultural purposes. The city and county of San Francisco now owns two-fifths of the floor of this valley. Are you going to leave it there now and let no one use it?

Another point which has not been called to the attention of the committee, and which I think is important, is that all these questions have been presented to the Government authorities. This matter has been under consideration by the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, Director Newell, Director Smith, and other Government officials. These questions were presented to them. I asked them the question whether or not the use of this five hundred and twenty-odd square miles that is on this watershed would be lessened to the public by the construction of this reservoir. Everyone says it will not. They say it opens it up to thousands where to-day there are only hundreds who use that park. The sanitary conditions are those approved by the Forest Service and are those which are in effect in the forest reserves to-day. Therefore, there will not be any denial of the use of this park or its watersheds that is involved here.

I call the committee's attention-I will not be long in doing it- to this fact: The city of San Francisco owns something like 3,500 acres of land in the Yosemite National Park and in the forest reserve. The land covered in the three reservoirs will be 3,100 acres. I speak of Hetch Hetchy, Lake Eleanor, and Cherry Creek. They are to deed back all the land they own to the Government except that covered by this dam, and I say to you gentlemen, and the evidence shows that there will be more camping grounds, more places to be used in the National Park after this dam is there than there is to-day; after the lake is put in there than there is to-day, because that will be opened. It will be deeded back to the Government so that it can be used.

In addition to that, the city and county of San Francisco is to build public roads connecting with the present public roads, and those will lead to the dam. They will go beyond the dam to Eleanor and Cherry Creek and to the summit of the great mountain range up there. It is proposed to connect those roads with the public Tioga road, which goes from the San Joaquin Valley over to the State of Nevada. That road can be used and that country will be opened, and, as the record shows here, instead of there being from 25 to 150 people at the Hetch Hetchy Valley, all that can go into the Hetch Hetchy Valley now, there will be thousands who will go into that valley. And, in fact, there will be no limit as to the number who can view the great, wonderful scenery there.

The only use for which that country is suitable is for camping purposes. You can not raise hay in there. You have to haul your hay in there. You have to do the same with all your supplies, as in the Yosemite Valley. They have to haul grain, hay, and food into the Yosemite Valley now, and it will be the same with the Hetch Hetchy Valley.

It is true the floor of this valley will be covered by the lake; but they can go over 750,000 acres in the national park and 520 square miles, which is the extent of this watershed.

I am as good a conservationist as anybody. I believe the park ought to be preserved; I believe we ought to get the fullest use of the national park that can be had; but instead of having it used as it is to-day, only by 150 people, there will be 10,000 people going into the watershed when this dam is completed, because the roads will be there. Provision will be made for them and they will not be retarded by any rules or any regulations which will affect their rights.

There is about 1,500 acres in the floor of this valley-of the Hetch Hetchy. There has been some misunderstanding about that. The city and county of San Francisco owns about 700 acres of that valley. The balance is Government land. That is all the land that is to be covered in this valley. There will be a road built around it, so that it can be used and seen by everybody. The falls will never be touched; not 1 foot of the height of those falls will be affected. The water that goes to waste will be held there in a beautiful lake, so that you can drive up to the dam, across the dam, and around the lake, and then go over the rest of that park. San Francisco is obligated to build those roads at its own expense and it is also obligated to provide for the first five years $15,000 to keep up this park; for the next 10 years $20,000 to keep up this park.

Senator Norris. Per year?

Representative Raker. Yes; per year. For the next 10 years they are obligated to contribute $30,000 to keep up this park and such additional amounts as the Congress from time to time may add.

Is that destroying the beauty of that park?

The testimony of men high in authority who have had lots of experience is unanimous to the effect that valley will be more beautiful than it is to-day. Is that a destruction of the park? Is that a destruction of the trees? No; there are no redwood trees on the floor of this valley which will be destroyed. There are only a few small pine trees, and most of those are owned by the city and county of San Francisco to-day. They could fence off that acreage there if they wished to. There is no destruction of anything which is wonderful. The rocks will be just as high around that dam as they are to-day. There will be just as much scenery when that dam is completed as there is to-day. The dam is to be only 300 feet high. There is to be that beautiful road around the lake.

For myself, I wish to say that I would be last one in the world who would try to despoil one foot of that country which could never be replaced; but I believe I owe it to the district which I represent, to believe I owe it to the city and county of San Francisco as a citizen of the State of California, I believe I owe it to the United States as a Representative in Congress, to see that proper legislation is put upon the statue books giving to the city and county of San Francisco the right to build this dam, properly guarded, properly put in shape. I believe we should use every drop of water in the State of California; I further believe that a use for agricultural purposes is not as high as for the purposes of citizens of towns and cities.

I believe it is right to use the water for a water supply for the city and county of San Francisco. I believe this bill, Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, covers all these advantages, protects and safeguards every interest of the Government, every interest of the irrigationists, and every interest of the city and county of San Francisco. I believe that I never have in all my lifetime appeared to speak in behalf of a bill before a committee of Congress which means as much for California, which means as much for San Francisco, which means as much for the eastern mountain district-because we want people to come in there-as this bill. Those mountains might lay there for ages unseen by anyone and amount to nothing.

In addition to that, I will be able to assist in preventing the destruction of the fertile plains down around Stockton and in that part of the country, flooded in the springtime because of high water coming from this river and others. Therefore, I feel justified and more than justified in urging strongly the claims of San Francisco for this bill in all its features.

Representatives of the irrigation districts appeared before the committee. These provisions were put into the bill so that there could be no possible injury to their claim, recognizing their prior rights, and last but most important, it says to them all, "Your rights, whatever they may be, will not be interfered with by this bill or any provision of it, because it is left entirely to the laws of the State of California to settle and adjust every right and to determine every need."

I do not care to go into the legal phase of the water conditions there, because I do not think it is in point here.

Senator Thomas. You understand that the erection of this dam will only flood a section of the floor of the valley. That is a question I would like to clear up in my mind.

Mr. Raker. It will cover practically all of the floor of the Hetch Hetchy Valley; that is about 1,500 acres. As I have said before, six hundred and some odd acres are already owned by the city and county of San Francisco.

Senator Thomas. It would be taking up about a section of Government land.

Mr. Raker. Yes; it would be taking up about a section of Government land.

I want to call the attention of the Senators to this one further point. We have talked about the use of that water. The dam is to be built in conformity with the condition of the mountains. As I have said, there is to be a road around the lake; so you can not only see the lake, but you can see the rest of the scenery there, and then the roads lead off in all directions to this park, and they will cost in the neighborhood of $600,000, and that country will accommodate a million people.

Mr. Dunnigan. The remarks of the gentlemen who will speak for San Francisco will be very brief.

I want to ask Mr. Kent, who has spent $200,000 of his own money in beautifying nature in California, and who deeded a beautiful park to the State, to just say one word.


Mr. Kent. I am rather inclined to resent the criticism that we who stand for this bill are opposed to conservation. I have tried to be an honest exponent of sane and sensible conservation, and to further the use of our national resources without unnecessary waste. But when an opportunity comes to give to a great community upward to 200,000 horsepower upon which not a cent of private profit shall ever be made; when it comes to the question of benefiting upward of a million people, then I believe that conservation demands that I do my duty and try to help rather than to hinder such a worthy project. I have heard it said right along-Mr. Whitman said in the hearings in the House, "you will find it is largely a question of water power."

I admit that. I want the people of the cities of California; I want the irrigationists and the people of the San Joaquin Valley to be forever free from any danger of being held up in the interest of private profit, if that can be done.

Mr. Johnson expressed great confidence in his knowledge of the purposes of the Creator in the matter of this valley. I do not know whether we can take it that he is absolutely sure of being right. He made the statement that those wonders were put there to be looked at. How are we going to tell what things are there to be looked at and what things are there to be used. It seems reasonable to me that we should use the useful things and look at the beautiful things; and that the highest use of the useful things is their use for the benefit of humanity.

I made the statement in the House that if Niagara Falls could be used to lighten the burdens of the overworked, I should be willing to see those Falls harnessed. I would not be willing to see them harnessed for private profit, but if Niagara Falls could be utilized for the alleviation of overworked suffering humanity, I should like to see the Falls used for that purpose. That is the kind of a conservationist I am, and I put it in the rawest, baldest terms.

That is the purpose of the Almighty, it seems to me. I do not think people should be so sure of the purposes of the Almighty. I do not believe people should be so ready to asperse the methods of other people. I think it is time that the Members of Congress who have tentatively committed themselves to measures of this kind should and up and talk back a little bit. I want to state here and now that have read this literature put out by these people. It has only one foundation of fact and that foundation is the letters of this man Sullivan, whom we proved in the hearings in the House to be a thief and a man who ought to be in the penitentiary. We proved his claims to be absolutely valueless; that he issued $250,000 of bonds on this alternative scheme that were really worthless. Every clipping I get from the public press-and I get lots of them-has this same foundation of falsity, and I am very glad to have had the opportunity to express my opinion of that kind of a propaganda.

Statement of Supervisor Alexander T. Vogelsang
Return to top of page