The water wheel on la Zanja Madre: Part 3
In Part 1 of this three-part blog, Where was the water wheel?, we discussed the fact of the water wheel and its importance in helping to provide water to downtown Los Angeles and the surrounding agricultural area. Part 2 provided proof of the physical location of the water wheel and its original location relative to today's map.
Part 3 is the final blog in this series. We discuss the rediscovery — one of many — of la zanja madre and how Metabolic Studio's project, Bending the River Back Into the City project re-creates the original wooden water wheel with a modern, fully-functional water wheel, called LA Noria, one of whose goals will be to provide water to assist in irrigation of the Los Angeles Historic State Park.
The original zanja system was a network of dirt ditches, which were replaced, over time, with wooden flumes, wooden pipes, and brick pipes. The dirt ditches, of course, no longer exist. The wooden and brick pipes have been discovered and rediscovered several times in recent history. A major, and most recent, rediscovery was made in 2014 during excavation for construction of Blossom Plaza in Chinatown.
A section of the brick zanja, which is about four feet in diameter, will be preserved. The new water wheel, LA Noria, brings the story of la zanja madre and its 1863 water wheel full-circle, and is a welcome addition to the never-ending and fascinating story of the history of Los Angeles.
About the Author
Bouett is a retired research scientist and registered professional
engineer who now conducts historical and genealogical research
full-time. A ninth-generation Californian, his primary historical
research interests are Los Angeles in general and the Stone Quarry Hills
in particular. His
ancestors arrived in California with Portolá in 1769 and came to Los
Angeles from Mission San Gabriel with the founders on September 4, 1781.
Lawrence Bouett may be contacted directly here.