"This Rude Platform is an Altar."

A carnival atmosphere prevailed for the dedication ceremonies at the “Cascades” on November 5, 1913.  The San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce distributed bottles of Owens River water to the 30,000 celebrants who arrived by car, wagon, and buggy.  The Southern Pacific charged $1 for a round trip ticket from Los Angeles to the site of the San Fernando Reservoir near Newhall.  Pennants proclaiming the event sold for 10 cents.

Mulholland rose to begin the ceremonies.  He thanked his assistants and the City of Los Angeles for their loyal support.  His address to the crowd was brief, “This rude platform is an altar, and on it we are here consecrating this water supply and dedicating the Aqueduct to you and your children and your children’s children-for all time.”

He paused for a moment as if contemplating his words.  The satisfied, he abruptly said, “That’s all,” and returned to his seat amid a tremendous roar from the crowd.

When the din subsided he was recalled to bring forth the water.  The good natured but noisy crowd grew quiet as Mulholland unfurled the American flag from the speaker’s stand flagstaff.  This was the signal to General Adna R. Chaffee, President of the Board of Public Works during the Aqueduct period, to perform the honored task of opening the gate valves.

At Chaffee’s command five men atop the concrete gatehouse put their weight to the great wheels that would lift the gates and release the water into the canal.

With the first trickle the crowd broke and ran to the canal.  Hundreds of cups were dipped to the sparkling water.  Horses reared in fright as the crowds cheered and horns blared.  The band played “Yankee Doodle Dandy”.

The program had called for Mulholland to formally turn the Aqueduct over to the Mayor, J.J. Rose, who would accept it on behalf of the people.  However, all semblance of order had been lost.  Mulholland turned to Rose, next to him on the platform, and said, “There it is Mr. Mayor.  Take it.”

Mulholland had predicted that Los Angeles would have a population of almost 260,000 the day the aqueduct opened.  But in 1913 Los Angeles had reached the dizzying figure of 485,000 residents.  Within ten years Mulholland and others would be looking for water again.

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