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Char Miller Curates Exhibit Commemorating Centennial of the L.A. Aqueduct, on View at Honnold Library

November marks the 100th anniversary of the first Los Angeles Aqueduct, a remarkable feat of engineering that sent water surging more than 220 miles from the eastern slope of the Sierra mountains, through the Central Valley and over the Tehachapi Mountains, turning Los Angeles into “an irrigated Eden” and draining the Owens Valley.

To commemorate that centennial and the aqueduct’s controversial history, Prof. Char Miller, the W.M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis, and Lisa Crane, Western American Librarian, Honnold/Mudd Special Collections, have co-curated the exhibit “Water, Power, and Technology: The Los Angeles Aqueduct, 1913-2013,” on view at the Claremont Colleges’ Honnold/Mudd Library (second floor, north side) through Dec. 20.

In connection with the exhibit, Miller will give a talk on the Los Angeles Aqueduct, its history, water politics and its impact on California, on Thursday, Oct. 31, at 4:15 p.m., in the Library’s Founder’s Room.

The photographs, schematics, and construction reports, culled from the vast Water Resources Collection, reveal the many challenges and debates that have continued since 1913. The exhibit covers how Los Angeles grew in the shadow of the desert, who was behind the engineering feat, and why the Owens Valley was selected as the source. As the exhibit makes clear, this initial aqueduct project did not slake the city’s thirst for water and led to the massive state-wide system in place today.

Miller, an environmental historian, is the director of the environmental analysis program at Pomona. He is the author of eight books, including On the Edge: Water: Immigration, and Politics in the Southwest (2013) and the editor or co-editor of 10 more volumes and a regular contributor to professional journals, newspapers and online media.

To learn more about Los Angeles and California water use and issues, Miller recommends Norris Hundley’s The Great Thirst and William Kahrl’s Water and Power.

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