Sand Canyon Aqueduct Camp

The Sand Canyon Aqueduct Camp served as the home and base camp of  area Los Angeles aqueduct workers from 1909 well into the 1950’s. The aqueduct stretches for 230 miles from Owens Valley to Los Angeles. In the early 1900’s the growing city had concerns about its water supply running out as the city was rapidly expanding. The Los Angeles Department of Power and Light began purchasing up land in the Owens Valley with the idea of constructing the aqueduct to divert the water from the Owens Lake. The construction began in 1908 with a budget of $24.5 million, and 5,000 workers.


Sand Canyon Aqueduct Camp (1909)

Sand Canyon Aqueduct Camp (1909)


In 1913 a siphon (a tube in an inverted U shape which causes a liquid to flow uphill, above the surface of the reservoir, without pumps, powered by the fall of the liquid as it flows down the tube under the pull of gravity, and is discharged at a level lower than the surface of the reservoir) was completed that ran along the bottom on the canyon.

After the completion of the aqueduct the Sand Canyon Camp continued to be used by workers into the 1950’s. The Los Angeles Department of Power and Light provided homes to the men that guarded and patrolled the aqueduct. In the late 1950’s the homes and buildings in Sand Canyon were no longer being used.

Today little remains of the camp except for some concrete foundations, stone walls, and a rock swimming pool. The cottonwood grove is now used for picnics and camping. A swimming hole that is said to have been built by the aqueduct workers is still a popular place for Ridgecrest residents to take a dip to escape the hot summer heat.



About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.


    • As you head North on Rt 395 (after Rt 14 terminates into it), the mountains and canyons will be on your left. Just before Pearsonville, near Brown Rd intersection, is a left turn to a sand and rock quarry. Travel West toward the quarry, and the road will bend around it. Note that the road is maintained by the quarry to this point, and will narrow a bit as it goes around. Continue West. The road will go under the aqueduct and the cottonwood grove is just beyond that. The road continues a ways up the canyon, however BLM blocked it a short ways away from the old homes and the rest is now considered “wilderness area”. I am unsure about bikes, but am pretty sure no motorized vehicles are allowed past the new parking lot – horses and hiking only. It is a beautiful place to visit, especially around March when our flowers bloom.

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