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The Joseph Andrew Rowe Water Resources Archives

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The Joseph Andrew Rowe Water Resources Archives began in 1999, with the donation of an exhaustive, lifetime collection of engineering and planning reports, technical journals, pamphlets, government documents, maps and aerial photos from Joseph Andrew Rowe, an engineer who specialized in water resources. Since then, the Archives has grown into a repository of important documents from throughout the state. It now includes several important collections.

W.P. Rowe and Joseph Rowe

The Archives' cornerstone collection from Joseph Andrew Rowe began with Joe's father, William Penn Rowe, who was also an engineer. Penn, as the elder Rowe was called, began the collection in 1916, adding historical documents that dated back to the 1870's. The Collection continued to grow until the mid-1980's. At the end of his career, Joe Rowe donated the collection to the San Bernardino County Museum, where it remained until the records were transferred to the Pfau Library to be managed by the Water Resources Institute (WRI). This collection is primarily relates to the Santa Ana River and its tributaries, but includes areas throughout the State of California, such as the Central Valley, Mojave River areas, and Los Angeles. In 2009, in honor of an endowed gift to the WRI Archives from Joe's daughters, Mary Ann McVey and Patricia Rowe Watt, the WRI Archives were named the Joseph Andrew Rowe Water Resources Archives .

The Archives contains several collections that are important to Southern California.

The William M. Claypool III collection is primarily related to the Colorado River, but includes many documents about the Mojave Desert and surrounding areas. William graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Pomona College in 1948. As the CEO of True Value Hardware in Needles, he created the first commercially successful recycling business in California and expanded the department store and grocery established by his grandfather. The collection includes historic books, historic government documents such as the Whipple Survey of the transcontinental railroad route, John Wesley Powell's survey of the Colorado River, many documents related to the Bureau of Reclamation's operation of the Colorado River and the Bureau of Land Management's maintenance of lands adjacent to the river, newspaper and magazine articles, Metropolitan Water District newsletters and brochures, and historical photos of the river. Bill realized early the significance of the lower Colorado River and wisely said, "We need to understand the river's past in order to chart its future."

The WRI has accepted a variety historically significant collections from a wide-ranging group of donors, including individuals and public agencies, elected officials, engineers, and businessmen, including:

  • Alan Nestlinger, who began his collection as an engineer with the Orange County Flood Control District. The collection includes flood reports, records and histories, movies of floods in Orange County, photos, electronic images, paraphernalia related to flooding in Orange County, and PowerPoint presentations given to various groups throughout the years.
  • Albert A. Webb Associates, who began their collection as an engineering firm that has been involved in nearly every water project in Riverside and San Bernardino County since the late 1930's. The collection includes Engineer's Reports, well records, State Water Project Reports, maps, and drawings from the 1950's through the mid-1980's
  • Bill Leonard, who began his collection while leading the Water Action Committee in City of San Bernardino during the early 1960'sLeonard played a vital role in the 1964 election that determined whether the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District would join Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. The collection includes ledger books from the Leonard Family's businesses, including an insurance business and a department store in San Bernardino. Also included is a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map collection of the City of San Bernardino, dating from 1911.
  • Bob Chesney, who began his collection as an engineer, working on the construction of Davis Dam and serving on the Colorado River Salinity Commission.. The collection addresses Colorado River salinity issues and state boundaries.
  • Bob Holcomb, who began his collection as an attorney and Mayor of the City of San Bernardino. He was an advocate for local control over water supplies during the 1960's.. The collection includes a variety of period documents and an oral history about the Upper Santa Ana Watershed.
  • Bookman-Edmonston, who began their collection as one of the foremost water resources engineering firms in the United States. The collection includes unique engineering reports, San Gabriel Watermaster Reports, California State Project reports, maps, drawings, and a wide variety of engineering reports from the Colorado River to the Sacramento Delta.
  • California State Water Quality Control Board, Santa Ana Region donated its collection from the 1970's. It consists solely of aerial photographs of the Ontario area.
  • Dan Powers, who began his collection as an engineer with Edison working in the hydroelectric industry. The collection includes hydroelectric industry journalsthat cover a period of nearly four decades.
  • Earth Technology Corporation, who began its collection as an environmental consulting company. This collection consists of r documents pertaining to the closing of Military Bases in Southern California, especially regarding water resources at those facilities. It includes maps, aerial photos, technical reports, and other supporting documents from their research.

  • Ed Taylor, who began his collection as an attorney representing the City of Redlands in numerous lawsuits concerning the Santa Ana River. The collection contains a variety of legal documents.
  • Dr. Kent Schofield, who began his collection as a history Professor from CSUSB and was one of the founding members of the WRI. This collection includes textbooks, videos, books, personal papers, journals, and maps.
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service donated its collection from the 1980's. The collection includes a set of aerial photographs of San Timoteo Canyon.
  • Ruben Ayala, who began his collection as a California State Senator, serving for many years as the Chair of the Senate Water and Agriculture Committee. The collection includes papers from his time as Chair, when the Peripheral Canal was proposed to the voters. The proposal was subsequently defeated.
  • San Bernardino County Flood Control, Water Resources Division donated its collection of historical maps, photos, graphs, reports, drawings, and graphs. The collection includes materials from the San Bernardino Public Works that pre-date the Flood Control District created in 1939.
  • Virginia Harshman, who began her collection as resident of Lytle Creek, wrote about the history of the area in her book, The Story of Lytle Creek: A History of the Area. Her husband, Walter Harshman, worked for Fontana Union Water Company for many years. The collection includes historical documents and maps related to the Lytle Creek area, photos of the Fontana Union Water Company, and Virginia's book.
Downtown San Bernardino, 1930
Downtown San Bernardino, 1930

The Aerial Photo Collection is part of the Joseph Andrew Rowe Water Resources Archives, which is located on the 4th floor of the Pfau Library in PL401. The aerial photos were taken for projects that Hydrologist Penn Rowe worked on, beginning in the late 1920's through the 1960's. They cover a variety of engineering water projects, including flood control, water supply and were used in legal cases pertaining to water rights.

The photos cover a wide area of Southern California, with a focus on the vicinity of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, as well as areas of Orange County, San Diego, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.

The Gage Canal Well, Santa Ana River, 1880's
The Gage Canal Well, Santa Ana River, 1880's

The Well Records are part of the Joseph Andrew Rowe Water Resources Archives, which is located on the 4th floor of the Pfau Library, in PL-401.They cover San Bernardino County and are water depth records and water quality reports. The records date from the 1930's to the mid-1960's. San Bernardino County Flood Control collected these records and donated them to the Water Resources Institute.