Mayor Phelan, Ethan Hitchcock, Hetch Hetchy Dam discussed on American History Tellers
The best way to free the city from the clutches of the spring valley water company and in February nineteen. O one congress passed the federal right of way act allowing the government to undertake projects in national parks and force reserves related to power communication and water supply the hetch hetchy dam project appeared to fall under it. It seemed the way was clear. Then in September President, William McKinley was assassinated. Theodore Roosevelt came into office and make conservation a cornerstone of his agenda. But Phelan went ahead with his plans in October. He applied on behalf of the city to the federal government for the right to dam hetch hetchy initially it seemed the application had been approved, but then in December nineteen, three word came that the application was being rejected by Roosevelt's interior secretary, Ethan, Hitchcock. Hitchcock was a strong admire of John Muir. He felt Yosemite status as a national park call for the preservation of its natural curiosities or wonders in their natural condition. And he disagreed with failings claim that hatch hetchy was the most viable source of water for the city. He rejected Phelan's application, the city of San Francisco appeal, the decision arguing that flooding hetchy would actually enhance the beauty of the park. When you're heard this argument near reportedly snorted as well may damning New York. Central park would enhance its beauty. The appeal was rejected falen applied again in nineteen. Oh five. After ten years mayor had ended, he. Received the same answer? No. Magin it's winter of nineteen o five. You're sitting in the office of Gifford Pinchot. Oh, the two of you met at a fundraiser in the red room of the Willard hotel, two nights prior, you used to be a public works Commissioner for San Francisco under mayor Phelan not anymore though. Now you're a private citizen and you've come to DC under your own steam. You're hoping somehow to convince the administration to approve the hatch hetchy project. You believe it's important when you bumped into Pinto head of the newly created department of forestry, you hope you might have an ally. Can show seemed interested in hearing about your mission after a few minutes chatting at the party. He suggested that to you meet formally at his office and two days later here you are in a client room with a wintry gloom shining through the window. Door opens and two minutes. Mr. Manson nice to see you again. Glad you could make it good to see you again Mr. pinch. Oh, please call me gifts. This other gentleman is James r Garfield director of the bureau of corporations at the department of commerce and labor and the son of our late president. I may add, he shares our interest in the hetch hetchy project. Nice to meet you Mr. Garfield Garfield Greece, you and sits on a couch along the wall control moves back behind his desk. So Mr. Manson, what can you tell me about this? Damn, as I said, the other night, our intention is to build a reservoir in the valley of hetch hetchy. You see the water supply. There is incredibly pure. We could Bill water reserves for our entire city by simply constructing this one reservoir, but we can't move forward without approval. Have you reached out to Ethan Hitchcock? He's the secretary of the interior? Yes. The previous mayor Mr. Phelan as applied to Mr. Hitchcock several times, but he's denied us denied on what grounds. He feels that because you're. Semi is a national park. There shouldn't be a damn can show leans back in his chair and strokes his chin thoughtfully. Well, now that's an interesting argument. There are plenty of people who had -gree with him. John Muir for one, yes. John Muir has made his feelings on the matter known to mayor Phelan. He thinks there are other places that could do just as well, isn't that it have you looked into some of these other locations? We have, sir, but none are so pure or so practical has Hatschi. We could buy land cheaply there since owned by the government. So it's mainly financial consideration? Well, no, not exclusively. In fact, I've got a letter from your right here that says the scheme for securing these water rights is full of graft as any of the lumber companies plans to obtain big blocks of the best timberland. Is that true? Mr. Manson your throne, you had hoped this would be a friendlier meeting, but you gotta your thoughts and respond? Not to my knowledge, sir. I'm an engineer. I leave the politicking to other people..