The Battle over Hetch Hetchy: America's Most Controversial Dam and the Birth of Modern Environmentalism

The Battle over Hetch Hetchy: America's Most Controversial Dam and the Birth of Modern Environmentalism

Robert W. Righter


within the wake of the devastating 1906 earthquake and hearth, town of San Francisco desperately wanted trustworthy provides of water and electrical energy. Its mayor, James Phelan, pressed for the damming of the Tuolumne River within the newly created Yosemite nationwide Park, surroundings off a firestorm of protest. For the 1st time in American historical past, an important nationwide competition arose to safeguard and shield nature, led by way of John Muir and the Sierra membership, who sought to guard what they believed was once the suitable of all americans to adventure traditional attractiveness, fairly the excellent mountains of the Yosemite area. but the defenders of the valley, whereas opposing the production of a dam and reservoir, didn't intend for it to be maintained as desolate tract. as a substitute they recommended a unique type of development--the development of roads, inns, and an infrastructure to aid leisure tourism. utilizing articles, pamphlets, and broadsides, they effectively whipped up public opinion opposed to the dam. Letters from participants started to pour into Congress by way of the millions, and significant newspapers released editorials condemning the dam. The struggle went to the ground of Congress, the place politicians debated the worth of surroundings and the prices of western improvement. eventually, passage of the passage of the Raker Act in 1913 via Congress granted San Francisco definitely the right to flood the Hetch Hetchy Valley. A decade later the O'Shaughnessy Dam, the second one biggest civil engineering venture of its day after the Panama Canal, used to be accomplished. but clash persevered over the possession of the watershed and the earnings derived from hydroelectrocity. To at the present time the reservoir presents San Francisco with a natural and trustworthy resource of ingesting water and an immense resource of energy. even supposing the Sierra membership misplaced this conflict, the talk stirred the general public into motion on behalf of nationwide parks. destiny debates over dams and recovery basically validated the burgeoning power of grassroots environmentalism. In a story peopled by means of politicians and enterprise leaders, engineers and employees, preservationists and traditional electorate, Robert W. Righter tells the epic tale of the 1st significant environmental conflict of the 20th century, which reverberates to at the present time.

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