Individual Facilities

Article

Clark Ditch
Jan 1957, Quarterly Bulletin, Calaveras County Historical Society

Mr. Warren V. Clark came to California from Connecticut. He was a railroad engineer, and the locator of the Sandusky and Ohio Railroad. He left his Eastern home in 1849, lured by the tales of gold in California and crossed the Isthmus of Panama and arrived at the “Diggings” in April, 1850. He first located in El Dorado county and having brought his surveyor instruments with him he was soon engaged in locating mineral ditches from the Sacramento River on the north to the Tuolumne River on the south.

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Tulloch Area Ditches
by Judith Marvin for Tuscany Hills Development, 2005

Two ditches carried water to mining and ranching properties along the north side of the Stanislaus River, in the area of the present Tulloch Reservoir: Truett’s (or Buckskin) Ditch, and the Mt. Brow or Spicer Ditch.

Truett’s (Buckskin) Ditch

One of the earliest ditches in the area was “Truett’s” or the “Buckskin Ditch” which took water from Littlejohns and Clover creeks (north of present State Route 4) and conveyed it “southerly in a serpentine manner” to the diggings in Scorpion Gulch and Six Mile Bar on the Stanislaus River.

Image of Mokelumne Hill and Campo Seco Canal and Water Company
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Mokelumne Hill and Campo Seco Canal and Water Company
By Judith Marvin, 2008

The works of the Mokelumne Hill Canal and Mining Company were begun in 1852, and completed to Mokelumne Hill the following year. The ditch, with a capacity of 1000 miner’s inches, was subsequently extended to Campo Seco, Camanche, and vicinities, a distance of 60 miles from the flume at the head of the canal on the South Fork of the Mokelumne River.

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Carson Hill Water Ditches

By 1855, two ditch companies, both of which had been declared public utilities in Calaveras County, had been constructed to bring water to Carson Hill and its vicinity: The Eureka Water Ditch and the Carson & Coyote Creek Ditch (State Surveyor General Annual Report 1855:322, 324). Both ditches conveyed water that was delivered by the Union Water Company from the Stanislaus River, then through a series of ditches, flumes, and reservoirs to Angels and Coyote Creeks, where it was picked up again and conveyed to the various mining areas along their routes.

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Ditches in the Douglas Flat-Vallecito Area

Like most areas in Calaveras Country, water was a crucial player not only in sustaining a population but in the ability for a location to extract the most out of a mine in the Douglas Flat and Vallecito region. 

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The Carley and Hammerschmidt/Jack Rabbit Ditch

This ditch took water from the Union Water Company Ditch (probably near present Ross Reservoir) and conveyed it to the Carley and Hammerschmidt gravel claims about three-quarters of a mile south of the Jupiter Mine on Dogtown Road. It was assessed as early as 1860, and undoubtedly served miners along its route. Sometime in the late 1880s, one-half of the ditch was purchased by the Jack Rabbit Mine, and continued to be assessed to the mine through the 1910s (and perhaps later) (Calaveras County Assessment Lists, various). Although dry, its route is still obvious along the south side of French Gulch Road.

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Utica Ownership of Angels Camp Ditches

In 1884 the Union Water Company was sold to George Grayson and Archibald Borland, San Francisco financiers who had acquired control of the Melones Consolidated Mining Company (Deed Book 43:589). Four years later, however, they sold the water to the powerful and rich Utica Gold Mining Company (owned by Alvinza Hayward, Walter S. Hobart, and Charles Lane), located in Angels Camp (Calaveras County Leases and Agreements Book C:254). The Utica Company then modified the system to serve the needs of its owners rather than its customers.

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The Jupiter/Dogtown Ditch

Windsor A. Keefer, owner of the Jupiter Mine near Dogtown, became a major stockholder in the Union Water Company in 1884, and in 1888 began taking water from the Union system above their fountainhead for his Jupiter Ditch in San Joaquin Gulch on the north side of San Domingo Creek. Due to his influence, Keefer Dam was completed by the water company in 1895, taking water from Ross Reservoir and conveying it down French Gulch, but, as there was not enough water for the mine, the ditch was augmented with water from another ditch from San Domingo Creek (United States Geological Survey [USGS] 1900, Voitich 1987).

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The McElroy/Union Ditch

Sometime after he filed a claim to placer ground on Bald Hill, James McElroy either built or purchased a ditch leading to his claim. Depicted on an 1872 map, it provided water to his Bald Hill Gravel Mine and his shafts (Beauvais 1872). Incorporated in 1872 and patented in 1876, in 1875 the mine was assessed for a ditch taking water from Angels Creek 1½ miles below Murphys to the McElroy Gravel mines. Four years later the McElroy Gravel Company sold the ditch to the Union Water Company for $5 (Deed Book 4:483). After its purchase by the company, the ditch became known as the Union Ditch; it is the lowest old dry ditch on the hillside (Lagomarsino 1987).

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The Montezuma or Torrey Ditch

Another major ditch system within the area of eastern Angels Camp was the Torrey. Ditch, which took water from Angels Creek near the location where the present Utica Power Authority (UPA) ditch leaves the creek and continues on to French Gulch and then Fourth Crossing. It served the needs of Charles and Mark Torrey (ranchers who homesteaded just north of the project area) and others along its route. Torrey had constructed his ditch, as well as a dam, just above the Union Company’s diversion dam and canal on Angels Creek, below Murphys Camp. The Union Company, unhappy with this prescriptive taking of water, sued. Chronicles about relating the lawsuit brought by the Union Water Company verses against Torrey and Company have been preserved; they involved tales of barrooms, tents crowded with miners, swearing, a billiards-playing constable, and much laughter (Noyes 1858:82-83).

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Angels Hydroelectric Project

(FERC PROJECT NO. 2699)
NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES
EVALUATIONS

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The Union Water Company

The Union Water Company was formed as a combined effort of two rival companies that had begun construction of water systems in 1851 to bring water to the miners. Members of both companies soon saw that combining their efforts would be more profitable, so they consolidated as the Union Water Company, assigning Captain William H. Hanford as Chief Engineer and William F. Griffith as Superintendent (Blake 1856:253-262). T. J. Matteson, a Murphys stage line operator, was hired to survey a route for the ditch (Wood 1952:15). The company founders included 23 men, with each contributing about $1850. The money was used to send agents to San Francisco to negotiate a loan of $1,000 to begin construction of the system (Noyes n.d.:82).

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