While building the aqueduct, William Mulholland and other engineers had to solve many problems. One problem was that the water was far from LA and stretched over many terrain changes. Luckily, the water was elevated so the engineers used gravity to transport the water. A terrain challenge was the Jawbone canyon, which dropped down to the bottom of the canyon and back up. They solved this problem by using sag pipes, which are metal tubes supported by concrete pillars. It uses physics, pressure, and gravity to move the water mostly upstream. The upstream pipe was built higher than the lower one. Water in the downstream end would run out of water and the pressure forced the water up. Mountains also provided a challenge that was solved by boring tunnels.
Jawbone Valley, sag pipes being used to move water
A short video of the aqueduct being built.
The aqueduct workers’ conditions were unfair. While working hard on building this huge project, their diet was unhealthy. In order to work well, one needed to eat nutritious food. The meals in the camp were dried and salty food. This made the workers not want to eat, which would cause major health issues. Another bad condition was the air quality. The air was terrible due to the constant dynamite explosions. Unfortunately, there was nothing the Reclamation Service could do about that. Imagine digging and building and coming home exhausted everyday and only getting paid $57 per month. This salary was barely enough to provide themselves and their families with food. To show their passion about their work environment, the workers went on strike and delivered a message that was sadly ignored.