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Tomás Rivera Archive

Tomas Rivera was born on December 22, 1935 in Crystal City, Texas. Rising from humble beginnings as the son of Mexican migrant farm workers, Rivera went to Southwest Texas State University, where he received his B.S. in English Education in 1958. He then taught English and Spanish in high school in San Antonio, Crystal City, and League City.
Aiming higher, he returned to Southwest Texas State to get a Master's in Education in 1964 and then, in 1969, he received a Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma in Romance Literatures. From teaching he moved to administration. He began as an Associate Professor of Spanish at Sam Houston State University in 1969; he moved to the University of Texas in San Antonio in 1971 to be a professor of Spanish and Directory of Foreign Languages. Five year later he was Vice President for Administration there, a post he held for two years, at which time he moved to the University of Texas at El Paso to be its Executive Vice President. In 1979, Rivera became Chancellor at UCR, where he served until his untimely death on March 16, 1984. He was survived by his wife, Concepcion; daughters Ileana, Irasema; son, Javier.
With diligence and intelligence Rivera overcame the great handicap of his youthful poverty and rose to success through academic achievement. He was a strong proponent of education, as his career in the academic work indicates. He was also a writer and a poet of some note. Writing about the life of migrant workers.
The University of California, Riverside library, which house social science and humanities, was renamed in his honor. It is in the Tomas Rivera Library that the archive is housed and it is administered by Special Collections & University Archives. For more information please contact Special Collections & University Archives at  
Written by Armando M. Martinez, edited by Clifford R. Wurfel

Los Angeles Aqueduct

Conceived by William Mulholland, Superintendent for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and Fred Eaton former Los Angeles Mayor, the Los Angeles Aqueduct was viewed as the solution to the city’s need for a reliable water source to sustain a growing metropolis. In the fall of 1904, after a five day trek from Los Angeles to the Owens Valley, by way of a two-horse buckboard, Mulholland and Eaton spent 10 days in the valley charting, surveying, and calculating the details of a momentous water project that would deliver water to a city 250 miles away. The aqueduct would transport Owens River water (which sat at an elevation of 4,000 feet) from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, south through the Owens Valley and the Mojave Desert, and finally pouring into a reservoir in the San Fernando Valley.

In 1905, residents of Los Angeles approved a ballot measure for a $1.5 million bond to cover land and water rights in Owens Valley and in 1907 they approved $23 million more for construction costs. The people were convinced that this gargantuan endeavor of moving water across the desert was imperative if Los Angeles were to become one of the world’s great cities. ­­­­­

The details of this water project were as sensational as the aqueduct itself. It took 18 months of massive preparations, which included the building of roads, trails, power plants, telegraph and telephone lines, and a water supply to the work camps that would dot 150 miles of desert from the Owens Valley to San Fernando Valley.  In total, the preparations included, “500 miles of paved roads and rails, 240 miles of telephone wire, the world’s largest municipal-owned cement factory, and more than 2,300 buildings (which included tent houses for workers, power plants, lumber mills, warehouses, barns and hospitals) 1

Construction on the aqueduct took 5 years to complete, utilizing, at its peak, 3,900 laborers living in 57 work camps, which lined the construction site from the mountains down through the desert2.  By November 5, 1913, engineers and work crews had, “blasted and drilled 142 tunnels totaling more than 43 miles in length. They built 34 miles of open unlined channel, 39 miles of concrete lined channel, and 98 miles of covered conduit, which was cast in place. Some of the conduit was large enough to drive a car through2.”

To celebrate such a feat, 43,000 Angelinos and spectators from around the country filled six city blocks in San Fernando and gathered to witness the opening of the gates at the San Fernando reservoir.  As the water began to flow from the hatches the crowd went wild and Mulholland shouted, those notorious words, “There it is –Take it!” 


This exhibit includes photographs, documents, and maps pertaining to the construction of the aqueduct and highlights the extraordinary details and work involved in the completion of this engineering achievement.


The Los Angeles Aqueduct Digitization project was made possible by a generous grant from the Metabolic Studio in order to bring consciousness to the impact and importance of this monumental piece of hydraulic engineering. For more information on this project please visit



1. Davis, Margaret L. Rivers in the Desert: William Mulholland and the Inventing of Los Angeles. New York: HarperPerennial, 1994. Print. 

2. Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The Story of the Los Angeles Aqueduct: Facts and History, 2013. Web. 06 November 2013.