By the time of the Army Corp report conducted its inventory most of the North Fork Ditch had been lined with concrete. Many of the appurtenances were also concrete such as wasteways, intake structures and sluice gates. Of the 37 flumes, 32 were constructed of timber and only 5 were metal. The timber flume construction allowed them to be built with small changes or bends in the direction to navigate around boulders and hillsides. The metal flumes, by contrast, were best adapted to spanning a small ravine in a straight line.
Within the rate submission was a detailed outline of the Natomas water canal along with photos of the Natomas Dam on the South Fork of the American River, the New York Ravine wooden siphon, and other pictures detailing the canals and flumes. The detailed history of the Natomas canal ownership along with a complete inventory of the structures submitted with the application for higher water rates gives a glimpse of this important gold rush era water works project.
So much good history is underwater. Our 20th century dam building covered in water many interesting historic artifacts such as the remnants of a 19th century dam and diversion canal on the Feather River. A small paperback titled “Lost Beneath The Feather River” and a brief story published in Harper’s Weekly clued me into this […]
In its very essence, the Freeport Regional Water Project is a peripheral water conveyance system designed to have Bureau of Reclamation water purchased by EBMUD not pass through the Delta. Even though this water is being used to service East Bay communities, there is no reason that some simple modifications to the EBMUD aqueducts would allow the water to be sent south to Southern California. Perhaps the Metropolitan Water District in Southern California should fund the construction of the necessary modifications to allow the discharge of water from the EBMUD aqueducts in the event of an emergency situation where Sacramento River water can’t be conveyed through the Delta.
If you want to actually get to the base of the Birdsall Dam site, which was my goal, you have to be more adventurous. You must leave the Pioneer Express Trail and hike around the American River bottoms.
Today, everything is dwarfed by Folsom Dam completed in 1958 and made the original 1895 Folsom dam, canal and powerhouse obsolete.