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University of California Berkeley 

Sam R. Leedom 


An Interview conducted and edited 

Gerald J. Giefer 

Statewide Water Resources Center, University of California 

in cooperation with the 
Regional Oral History Office, Bancroft Library, Berkeley 


Sam R. Leedom 

All uses of this manuscript are covered by an 
agreement between the Regents of the University 
of California and Sam R. Leedom, dated 
15 August 1967. The manuscript is thereby made 
available for research purposes. All literary 
rights in the manuscript, including the right 
to publish, are reserved to the Bancroft Library 
of the University of California at Berkeley. No 
part of the manuscript may be quoted for publi 
cation without the written permission of the 
Director of The Bancroft Library of the Univer 
sity fo California at Berkeley. 


The following interview is one of a series on "The Oral 
History of California Water Resources Development" sponsored by 
the Water Resources Center of the University of California and 
conducted at the Los Angeles and Berkeley campuses of the Uni 
versity during 1965, 1966, and 1967. In setting up the project, 
the nature and scope of the work was described as follows: 

The basic purpose of this program will be to 
document historical developments in California s water 
resources by means of tape recorded interviews with men 
who have played a prominent role in this field. Much of 
the published material on California s water resources 
describes engineering and economic studies of specific 
water projects. Little, however, is devoted to the 
concepts, evolution of plans, and areas of authority 
exercised by various interested Federal, State and local 

For example, there is little reference material 
with regard to the transition of administration of the 
Central Valley Project from the State of California to 
the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in the early 1930 s. 
Similarly, the negotiations leading to contracts for 
water between the State of California and the Metropol 
itan Water District of Southern California are not 
documented. Yet, both of these agreements had profound 
effects on water resources policy in California. Re 
corded interviews can piece together these important 
links in California s water resources history. The 
resulting material will provide a valuable fund of infor 
mation for researchers in the years to come. 

The Berkeley project is under the faculty direction of 
J.W. Johnson, Director, Hydraulics Engineering Laboratory; 


Professor, Hydraulic Engineering, and David K. Todd, Ph.D., 
Professor of Civil Engineering. Gerald J. Giefer, Librarian, 
Water Resources Center Archives, is responsible for the inter 
viewing and processing of the manuscripts which are being 
handled in co-operation with the Regional Oral History Office of 
the Bancroft Library. Final manuscripts are available for 
research at the Water Resources Center, UCIA; Department of 
Special Collections, Library, UCIA; Department of Special 
Collections, Library, UC Davis; Water Resources Center Archives, 
UC Berkeley; The Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley; and the Regional 
Oral History Office, UC Berkeley. 

Included in the series at this date are Harvey 0. Banks, 
Sam Leedom, and Sidney T. Harding. The researcher is also 
referred to oral history interviews on California water develop 
ment done previously by the Regional Oral History Office with 
Frank Adams, Louis Bartlett, Stephen Downey, William Durbrow, 
Herbert Jones, Charles Lambert, and J. Rupert Mason. 

Willa Klug Baum, Head 
Regional Oral History Office 

15 September 1967 

Regional Oral History Office 
Room 486 The Bancroft Library 
University of California 
Berkeley, California 


Sam Leedom was associated with California state water administration 
for eighteen years. Prior to his state government service, he was 
a newspapernan for fifteen years. 

Mr. Leedom 1 s newspaper career began in Orland, Glenn County, in 
192U. He worked also in Redding before joining the Sacramento Bee 
in 1927j where he remained until shortly before undertaking 
government service. His newspaper years were high-lighted by 
several trips to the Orient from where he dispatched stories of 
the Japanese In Manchuria (1933), and on his second trip (1936), 
of life in the Dutch East Indies. 

Els association with water in California began in 1939 when he was 
appointed, in the Olson administration, as administrative officer 
to the Water Project Authority. During World War II, Mr. Leedom 
served in the Army with the rank of Captain: he had served also in 
World War I with the Havy. Following World War II he became admini 
strative assistant to the State Water Resources Board. He retired 
from this position in 1957- 

Mr. Leedom lives in El Granada where he and his wife have a house 
on the side of a hill overlooking Half Moon Bay. They think now 
that they gave themselves too much garden space. It was at their 
home that this interview was recorded in 1966, in a room facing the 


sea and decorated vith pieces of the batik brought hone fro* the 
East Indies. Mr. Leedom wanted mostly to "spin a yarn" about his 
old friends Ed Hyatt and Bob Edmonston, vhich he does vith fondness 
and respect. 

Gerald J. Olefer 

Librarian, Water Resources Center Archives 

August, 1967 



Introduction ill 

Personal reminiscences 1 

Newspaper work in the Sacramento Valley 6 

The Sacramento Bee 9 

Ed Hyatt and R.M. Edition st on 11 

The Marshall Plan l6 

Ed Hyatt and the California Water Plan 17 

Water Project Authority 21 

Ed Hyatt and the Central Valley Project 26 

Earl Warren 39 

Central Valley Project Ul 

Ilyatt and Edmonston ^5 

California Water Commission 60 

State Water Resources Board ^3 

Index 81 

(Interview No. 1, January 13, 1966) 

Personal Reminiscences 

G-iefesr: You vere born In Wyoming? 

Leedom: No, I was born in Nebraska, but I grew up in a small 

Mormon community in the Big Horn Basin in Wyoming. This 
is in the early 1900 s. My father bought a newspaper in 
Lovell, Wyoming in 1908. We were one of three gentile 
families in the community. This made me a suspect 
minority. At that time the Mormon Church in Salt Lake 
was in the process of settling colonies all through the 
Rocky Mountain area. They would send out to various 
localities a group of about 100 farmers, artisans, etc. 
and start the colony. It so happened that in the Big 
Horn Basin they established three: there was Lovell 
where I grew up, Byron up the Shoshone River about eight 
miles, and Cowley across on the other side of the river. 
This formed a triangle about eight miles to the side. 
These people were trve pioneers in developing raw 
land and putting it under irrigation. They did all of 
it by the pick and shovel, horse and scrapper methods of 
those days. In the particular locality where I grew up, 
they diverted their water by gravity from the Shoshone 
River which heads in Yellowstone Park. One of the first 
large Bureau of Reclamation projects was built here. The 
Shoshone Dam near Cody and canals extended down to the 
Powell Plat which was a distance of about 20 miles. That 


Leedom: w* 8 among the first of the Bureau of Reclamation projects. 
It was quite fancy compared to the Mormon project which 
was another 20 miles down the river. 

These Mormons were supposed to be able to make water 
run uphill. If you looked at their canal which followed 
along the foot of a bench at the edge of the valley, it 
certainly did appear to run uphill. 

Giefer: Where did they acquire this know-how? 

Leedom: I don t know where they acquired the know-how. I think 
it was from experiments in Utah. These people name from 
what they called "Dixie" in southern Utah, which is down 
around St. George. I believe there is an irrigation 
system there built by the Mormons in those early days. 
However, they did not understand drainage. Their canal 
was built on almost a cobble rock base so they lost a 
good deal of the water through seepage. The seepage 
backed up behind cross ridges of hard pan and eventually 
turned their farming area into white lakes of alkali on 
which nothing would grow. I am talking about 1910. At 
that time their crops were what was called lucerne, which 
is alfalfa and sugar beets. Those were the principle crops 
of the area. If they grew 18 tons of what we now consider 
low sugar content beets to the acre, they thought they had 
a marvelous crop. As a matter of fact, that became a 
center of sugar beet growing, that area and the Powell Flat. 
The Western Sugar and Refining Company built a sugar re 
finery in my town of Lovell, Wyoming. 


Leedom: However, I did not become acquainted with irrigation 
in California until after World War I. I came direct 
from my discharge from the Navy at Brooklyn to Los Angeles. 
The area around there was all under irrigation. I could 
not believe it because there were no ditches. You saw 
no running water anywhere in the Los Angeles area. It 
was hard for me to believe that they were actually 
irrigating. You could see the cement stand pipes at 
intervals in places but it did not look like irrigating 
to me. 

Getting out of the Navy, I found that all you had 
to do in Long Beach was to appear in your uniform and they 
would give you a Job in the ship yards for a fabulous 
salary in those days. I worked there from the time I 
arrived in southern California in January of 1919, until 
the opening of the fall semester at Berkeley. Then I 
found that I could combine my studies at the University 
with a night shift at the Moore Ship Yard down in Oakland. 
I had the classification of riveter. Riveting is pretty 
heavy work. I could also handle the chipping and calking 
gun which is much lighter. So I went in as a chipper and 
calker in the ship yard and worked there nights. I would 
leave Berkeley on the key system train that ran me down 
to the Oakland station. From there I guess I walked up 
to the ship yards, or they may have had a Jitney trans 
portation system. I don t remember. My connection with 
water up to that date had been nil except for the irrigation 


Leedom: in Wyoming. 

Incidentally, speaking of Wyoming and water, I had 
never seen a pond of water larger than a lake about a 
mile across before I enlisted in the Navy. I was sent 
back to Chicago and up to the Great Lakes Naval Training 
Station where I was confined like all others in the Navy 
for two weeks in a camp to make sure that we were bringing 
no serious disease into the ranks. Then we were given 
a week-end leave. There was a lake shore interurban 
which ran up through Waukegan to Milwaukee. On this 
leave I had my first view of Lake Michigan. A friend 
of mine from Omaha, Nebraska, who was in the same 
company of the Navy as I, found out that there was a 
lot of free entertainment in Waukegan so we boarded 
this interurban train and started up there. 

I was sitting on the right hand side of the car. 
Suddenly here was an expanse of blue reaching to the 
horizon. I had never before seen such a thing. I had 
never seen anything blue which reached to the horizon 
which was not a blue pine-clad mountain. I said to my 
companion, "I thought there was a lake around here. What 
is that hill out there?" He said, "You fool. That s Lake 

But to get back to California water. After I went 
to the University, I did not finish my final term. I had 
to be out one semester to catch up on my college debts. 
I decided, like a good many other young people, that there 


Leedora: was very little else that the University could teach one 
so well informed as I was at that point. I had decided 
at the University to become a mechanical engineer. At 
the end of my sophomore year I came back to the fraternity 
house in which I lived and roomed with a senior in engineer 
ing. This particular night they were engaged in a very 
difficult engineering problem. I came in, casually looked 
over their shoulders, and went to bed. The next morning 
when I got up, I thought, "What an idiot I must be to be 
taking engineering when I did not have enough interest 
in a senior year problem to even ask anything about it." 
I immediately changed over to Letters and Science and 
began to take everything which I thought would be required 
to fit me for a newspaper career because I had grown up 
with a newspaper since the time I could set type. 

The summer of 1922 I spent as a linotype operator 
up on a little paper in the middle of the Sacramento Valley 
at Or land. It was located in the center of the Bureau of 
Reclamation irrigation project, the Stony Creek project. 
That actually was my first contact with irrigation in 
California. They had great dreams of grandeur for the 
future of that area. It was going to bloom and blossom 
like no other area in California. Warren Woodson, a 
promoter at Corning, had built a tower in the center of 
Corning. In those days they were still bringing train 
loads of middle -we stern land seekers to Corning. He 
would take them up in this tower of his and show them 


Leedom: the expanse of orange groves and olive groves; that was 
going to be the great future of California right there. 

Newspaper Work in the Sacramento Valley 

The following year, at the end of the fall semester, 
I started up the Sacramento Valley with a banjo under 
one arm and a suitcase under the other, all my possessions 
in the world, looking for a Job, a newspaper Job. In 
spite of my great learnings at the University of California, 
I found that my services as a newspaperman were rather 
lightly regarded by the editors who interviewed me. I 
tried though. I hit all the towns from Sacramento to 
Chico. It so happened there that I struck it rich, not 
as a newspaperman but I got a job with a dance band 
playing for the New Year s and Christmas dances. It 
refinanced me for sure. 

Then I tried Red Bluff. Finally at Redding I talked 
with Walter Fink who was editor of The Courier Free Press. 
After outlining to him my experience, and trying to im 
press him with my brilliance, he sat back and said, "Well, 
how much do you think it should cost me to let you experi 
ment with my paper?" I told him that I had several bad 
habits. I like to sleep indoors, like to eat, and I was 
a little finicky about having clean shirts, and that I had 
one very bad habit I smoked cigarettes. He told me, "You 
go over to Mother Stone s. She has a boarding house around 
the corner. It is a good one. Find out what it will cost 


you a month. Then you figure out what these other 
necessities will cost you." 

So I did; it was $60 a month at Mother Stone s 
boarding house. I figured that the laundry and 
cigarettes would not cost me more than $10 because 
I had an ace in the hole in my banjo. Fink hired me 
for $70 a month as a cub reporter on his newspaper. 

There were two daily papers in Redding The 
Searchlight was a morning paper and The Courier Free 
Press was an afternoon paper. They are now combined 
into one paper. 

Giefer: Did you go back to school after that? 
Leedom: No, I worked for Fink for two years. Then I leased 
the Orland Register from Wigraore, the editor. I ran 
that for eight months. I was trying to do both the inside 
and the outside work. The result was that I overdid it 
and finally had a breakdown. I think probably the bad 
grape brandy that they made there had something to do 
with it because I developed a rheumatic condition and I 
had to give up the lease on the paper. After several months 
of boiling out at the springs and recuperating, I went 
back to work for Fink in Redding. 

By then I was making $35 * week. No, I was making 
$25 a week. Fink walked into the office one day and said, 
"I ve got some relatives back in Pennsylvania and I am 
going to take a little trip back there. If you get in 
any trouble, Ore Chenoworth is our attorney. The fore- 


Leedom: man of the composing room is a gentleman and a scholar; 
take his advice." With that he walked out and left me 
with the paper on my hands. I did not hear from Fink 
for two months. Then he sauntered in one day Just as 
casually as he had walked out. He walked over to the 
back issues of the paper and flipped through them. I 
think he was looking more as an act then anything. He 
came into my office and said, "I see we haven t any libel 
suits on our hands. You ve done all right," he said, 
"I think I will raise your salary." 

That week end I got a check with a salary of $^5 
a week dated back to the time when he had gone on his 

Redding at that time was very much interested in the 
investigation at Kennett being conducted by, I think, the 
Division of Irrigation. Kennett was the location of a 
copper smelter that had flourished to the extent that the 
fumes from it had killed all the fish in the river; killed 
off all the vegetation on the hillside; and made farming 
something of a problem down the upper part of the Sacramento 
Valley. But California had passed a law enforcing what 
we now call smog control. The smelter finally shut down . 
It was still running when I first went to Redding in 1923. 
I think it closed down shortly thereafter. The interest 
there, of course, was intense in the proposed dam at 
Kennett . 

There was just as much interest however in a proposed 

Leedom: dam at Iron Canyon in Red Bluff, the rival city 30 
miles down the highway from Redding. Red Bluff was 
booming Iron Canyon while Redding was booming the 
Kennett Dam project. Both were under study by the 
state at this point. 

The Sacramento Bee 

It was not until I was offered a job with the 
Sacramento Bee that I actually cane into close contact 
with the water problems in California. The Bee was 
an ardent public ownership supporter. That was one of 
its basic policies. It had about three: one was public 
ownership; two was trees, all trees were stately and had 
to be conserved; three, if it could be called a policy, 
was that it was not news until it was printed in the Bee. 

By a fluke of circumstances I was only on the Bee 
about eight months when I was made the city editor. This 
is beside the point, but when I moved to Sacramento I had 
a young doctor friend who had been made the prison doctor 
at Folsom. Vfy wife and I used to run up there quite fre 
quently on weekends. I would tour the prison with the 
doctor so I became quite intimately acquainted with the 
interior of the prison. The following Thanksgiving was 
the Thanksgiving Day riot at the Folsom Prison. It 
developed that there was not a soul on the Sacramento Bee 
who knew anything about the interior of the prison, nor 
did they have any pictures of it. I happened to be the 


Leedora: lucky person who did know so they moved me onto the city 

desk. I drew diagrams, which our artists finished, showing 
the layout of the interior of the prison and so on and so 
forth. Then when we finally got finished putting out 
extras at about two o clock in the morning, I crawled 
into my car and went up to Folsom. I sat around for an 
hour or so and then came back to the office and wrote a 
color story of the thing. Carlos McClatchy, the son of 
the owner of the Bee who had been a captain in the in 
fantry during World War I and thouglt himself quite a 
military man, had been at his father s home in Sacramento 
as a guest for Thanksgiving. When the prison riot broke 
out, he immediately took off and took full command of the 
National Guard and everything else involved in the riot. 
The next morning he wrote a page one yarn. He had the 
grace to put my two column color story as a side box of 
his on page one. Otherwise I would probably have been a 
copy reader in what they call the "Sup" department t "Superior 
California News" 3 for another 100 years. As a result of 
that fluke though, I came to the notice of both C.K. and 
his son. There was an opening coming up on the city desk. 
They needed a city editor so I was moved in as a raw 
recruit from the outside over these old heads who had 
worked around there for 15 or 20 years. 

Giefer: You had been there for how long six or seven months? 

Leedom: Yes, six or seven months. 

Giefer: How did you happen to come down to Sacramento? 

R. M. Edmonston and Ed Hyatt, October 3, 1940 


Leedom: Through Roy Goodwin who was in charge of the "Sup-Cal". 
You see there was not any "Northern California" on the 
Sacramento Bee. It was always "Superior California". They 
had a whole section of the paper devoted to the hill-billy 
news from every crossroad in northern California. They 
called it the "Sup-Cal" Department. The copyreaders in 
this department had to take the scribbled notes of these 
country correspondents and their telephone calls and 
translate them into English. They had to get them into 
the paper in readable form. 

Giefer: Things like "our special correspondent in Orland?" 
Leedom: I had been the correspondent in Orland and Redding 

for the paper. I will say this for the McClatchy news 
papers, the Bee s whole foundation and popularity was 
based upon the fact that they carried the news of every 
hamlet in northern California. They made a specialty of 
rural news. Nations might be crashing all over the place, 
but it was more important whether Mrs. Jones gave birth 
to a daughter or a son. That was in 1927- 

Ed Hyatt and R. M. Edmonston 

That same year Ed Hyatt wms made state engineer. Sacra 
mento at that time was a city of 65,900 people. If you 
knew everyone who belonged to the Sutter Club and the 
country club, and the outstanding state officials, then 
you knew all the important people in Sacramento. As the 
city editor, it was my business to know them, so I knew 


Leedom: Ed Hyatt from the day he was made state engineer. I 
think so far as this record is concerned, I want to 
deal largely with what I consider the two giants in 
our water development from a state standpoint. That 
is Ed Hyatt who served the longest time of anyone as 
state engineer prior or since, and Bob Edmonston,his 
right-hand man who came to the division much later than 
Ed did, though; his hidden strength in the division. I 
have always thought of them as a Castor and Pollux team. 
One depended upon the other; the strength of one was the 
strength of the other. 

Edmonston was the engineering genius. Hyatt was 
the brainy front man who knew when a thing should be pushed, 
how far it should be pushed, and how to deal not only 
with the state politicians but with the national politicians 
as well. 

Giefer: Hyatt was in the division while McClure and Bailey were 
both there? 

Leedom: Hyatt s career in what we now call the Department of Water 
Resources dates back to 19l6. When he retired in 1950, he 
had had thirty-five years in the state departments of which 
thirty-three had been connected with water development in 
California. He had spent two years with the California 
Highway Commission between 19lU and 1916 when he transferred 
to the, then, State Water Commission. 

Giefer: Actually, Hyatt and Edmonston were contemporaries. 


Leedom: Ed was born and raised down in Riverside County right on 
the edge of the desert. He went to school in his early 
days out in Jacinto which is right on the edge of the 
desert. His father then was the superintendent of schools 
of Riverside County. I think, yes, at the time Ed was 
graduating from high school in Riverside in 1906, his 
father became state superintendent of education in Sacra 
mento so the family moved from Riverside to Sacramento. 
Ed actually grew up in Sacramento politics from the time 
he was out of high school. He entered Stanford. His 
class was 1910, the same as Edmonston s. He took time 
off though. He went east to school for one year. I think 
then that he just dilly-dallied for another year, but he 
graduated in 1912. 

Edmonston, on the other hand, grew up in Humboldt 
County, the wettest spot in the state, or nearly the 
wettest spot in the state, in a little village of Petrolia. 
He never let anyone forget that he was from Petrolia, 
Humboldt County. He went to school up in Perndale. He 
often told me that during the flood stage of the Eel how 
difficult it was for them to get to school because they 
rode horseback down to the Eel River, crossed the river 
by rowboat, went to school in Ferndale, then they made the 
trip back; each time they made the trip it was necessary 
to drag the boat far upstream then start out rowing and 
land far downstream on the other side. Particularly during 
these winter months when the Eel was in flood stage it was 

Leedom: hard. 

Bob graduated from Stanford in 1910. He immediately 
went into the construction of irrigation works. I think 
the South San Joaquin irrigation district was the first 
one he worked on. Incidentally, one of his most valuable 
assistants, P.H. VanEtten, also worked on that irrigation 

Both Edmonston and VanEtten were veterans of World 
War I. Throughout their entire career, they were very 
closely associated. While VanEtten never signed a document 
other than P.H. VanEtten, he was always addressed by his 
friend Bob as Percival Hicks VanEtten. As I say, I knew 
Hyatt intimately long before I actually got mixed up in 
the politics of water in California. I say intimately; 
I mean as a newspaper man knows a prominent state official. 
He was continually in the news columns from 1930 on 
through the rest of his career, a period of 20 years. I 
think there was scarcely a week that went by that Hyatt 
did not make news. He was either in Washington on conference, 
or someone from Washington was out here. He was one of 
our best news sources around the state capital for the 
Sacramento Bee because the Bee, you might say, was an 
ardent supporter of the development of our natural resources, 
particularly if it were done by public enterprise. Private 
enterprise was frowned upon although the McClatchy chain of 
newspapers and radio stations was probably one of the most 
prominent, sprawling chains of private enterprise in the 


Leedom: state of California. 

Giefer: How do you suppose something like this happens? Was 
it a personal idiosyncrasy? 

Leedom: It was a personal idiosyncrasy on the part of C.K. McClatchy. 
Old C.K. was a very fine gentleman and a scholar, but he 
had decided somewhere in his early days that our natural 
resources such as water and power should be developed only 
through public effort. Public ownership was the watch word. 
He was all for irrigation districts and their private 
construction because that was public construction. He 
was bitterly opposed though to the development of any 
of our streams by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, 
the Southern California Edison Company, or Western State 
Gas and Electric Company. Like many successful editors, 
once a policy was established on a paper, it was never 
changed; it might be stupid; it might be senseless; it might 
be anything, but it was never changed. As a result people 
would say, "Well, I don t agree with old C.K. but he certainly 
is a fighter. He never changes his positions." Which is 
one of the elemental things concerning newspapers that 
many people overlook. In order to be respected, establish 
a policy and never change it, regardless of whether you 
are proved wrong or whether you are right; don t change. 
Then you become successful and respected. 

Giefer: Do you recall from this early period Hyatt s opinion of how 
things were going in the division? 


Leedom: Hyatt, in spite of being the promoter of what was a fabulous 
proposal for those days, was actually a very conservative, 
cautious man. He never tried to build an empire in his 
own department. He kept his staff down to a minimum. He 
and Edmonston had the ability to get good men. They had 
men like VanEtten, Gerald R. Jones, Bob Jones, Jim Haley, 
Ray Matthews, Stafford, Althouse, and in addition to that, 
they were able to get support from the leading experts in 
water and power development in the state. Look down through 
the list of consultants in Bulletin 25, which proposed 
the Central Valley Project and the "State Water Plan." 
This actually was not the State Water Plan at all. It 
was a plan for the immediate development of a major 
project in the Central Valley, but it was called the 
"State Water Plan." 

The Marshall Plan 

To go back a little, Ed Hyatt, when he got out of 
college, went with the U.S.G.S. making surveys in the 
state . Robert Bradford Marshall was the top man in the 
Federal Geographical Surveys at that time. It has often 
been said since that Ed s association with Marshall was 
directly responsible for his creation of the Central Valley 
Project. However, in the many years that I knew him 
intimately, I did not get that impression. Marshall s 
project, with its giant canals along both sides of the 
Valley, was not a new idea. It had been proposed back 


Leedom: in the l880 s or thereabouts as a private enterprise. They 
were going to combine transportation of water with canal 
boat transportation to supplement the railroads. Marshall s 
plan was splendid on paper but it was not realistic in that 
it cut across every irrigation development that had already 
been built in the Central Valley, the Sacramento and San 
Joaquin Valleys. It was impossible also from the standpoint 
of construction. It interfered with water rights, water 
supplies, already established districts. As I say, it 
looked fine on paper and was a grandiose scheme, but Ed 
Hyatt was too much of a realist to go for anything like 

Bd Hyatt and the California Water Plan 

His state water plan was actually a kind of a will-o - 
the-wisp that developed like a chrysalis. It started with 
one man s idea and was improved upon by the next man. All 
of these men- -Paul Bailey, McClure, previous state engineers, 
had a hand in bringing the project to an engineering 
fruitation. Each one of these previous plans was deficient 
in some respect, even as the Central Valley Project as 
proposed in 1931 was deficient in some respects. They 
were going to pump water up the San Joaquin Valley. They 
were going to use the San Joaquin River with a series of 
dams and pump from one to the other and so on and so forth. 
That has been changed, but basically the Central Valley 
Project as it exists today is the same thing that was proposed 


Leedom: in 1931. 

As I say, I knew of and about Hyatt through the 
years from 1927 up to 1939 because he was news. Those 
were the days of constant movement in our water development 
particularly in the early 1930 s. Of course when Bulletin 
25 came out we were in the throes of a great depression. 
I think it was the following year that Franklin D. Roose 
velt was elected and established the New Deal. He took 
the county out of the doldrums and held up hope that maybe 
the federal government would lend a hand in this monstrous 
project out here. It was not then conceived that the 
federal government should take it over by any manner 
or means. But, what the state wanted was some federal 

Giefer: Incidentally, what were Hyatt s politics? 

Leedom: Ed Hyatt was a die-hard, dyed-in-the-wool, conservative 

Republican. This reminds me of one of the most embarrassing 
days of his life, I think. Ed had worked with every, what 
I call old water-wheel, in the Sacramento and San Joaquin 
Valley. Most of them were very conservative farmers, big 
farmers and successful farmers, almost to a man die-hard, 
conservative Republican. It camealong the time of the 
ground breaking (I think it was in 1939) for the Friant 
Dam out from Fresno. The Bureau of Reclamation planned a 
big ceremony to draw attention to their ground breaking 
activities down there. The old water-wheels Joined in 
with them, but they took over the matter of the ceremony 


Leedom: to the point where they virtually crowded all of the 
Bureau people out of the picture. But the guest of 
honor for the occasion was Harold Ickes, director of the 
Department of the Interior; Harold was not about to be 
shoved aside by anyone. They were holding a dinner in 
his honor at Fresno. All of the prominent California 
Democrats were at the head table. Ickes was flanked 
on one side by Governor Olson and on the other side by 
Frank Clark who was the Director of Public Works, and 
so on down the table, all the very prominent Democrats. 
Sitting alone at the head table in this great welter of 
New Deal Democrats was poor little ol 1 Ed Hyatt. He 
sat there facing out in the audience all the die-hard, 
conservative Republicans of the San Joaquin and Sacramento 

Incidentally, everyone for as long as I could remember 
Ed was always referred toSd as "little ol 1 Bd." Actually, 
Ed Hyatt stood about six feet tall. When he squared his 
shoulders up, he was rather broad shouldered. He was 
very thin though and kind of slouched and had an utter dis 
regard for his clothes. He usually looked as if he had just 
come off second best in a wrestling match with Harpo Marx, 
but that was probably why everyone referred to him- -poor 
little ol 1 Ed. He was far from being a little man and was 
a great outdoors man. He loved to ride and hike. He was 
an ardent fisherman. I guess he came by it naturally. 
His father before him was a great outdoors man, a great 


Leedom: naturalist, but very careless about his manner of dress. 
I had this story from Merritt Nickerson, who was the 
photographer for the Department of Public Works for many, 
many years: One time there was some function in the capitol 
when the leading state officers were to attend accompanied 
by their wives. The elder Hyatt was walking down the 
corridor of the capitol. Nickerson overheard him tell 
his wife, "Now you Just walK ten feet behind me, Mrs. H., 
and no one will know you are with me." 

Edmonston, on the other hand, who was born in a very 
mountainous, attractive area, cared nothing whatsoever 
for hunting, fishing, or outdoor sports. He did have one 
foible, however. If there was a crooked mountain road 
as an alternate to a well traveled road, he would take 
the crooked mountain road that led back into the hills, 
past dam sites, and to on and so forth. When he got 
back where it was impossible to go any farther, he would 
get out and hike. He was a huge man and he would scramble 
up and down the hills with the best of them in spite of 
the fact that he had a bad leg which he got from a const ru- 
c tion accident, I think, when they were building the dam 
at Lake Spaulding. He was working then for the Western 
State Gas and Electric which later was absorbed by the 
P.O. & E. I don t know just how the accident occurred, but 
his leg was badly broken in several places. It bothered 
him for the rest of his life. 


Water Project Authority 

Leedom: Let us get back fo the beginning of my real involvement 
in vater resources development in California. In 1938 
Senator Olson was campaigning against Frank Merriam for 
the governorship and won the election. When he was inau 
gurated in January of 1939> the whole picture in Sacramento 
changed. The capitol was filled with a horde of hungry 
Democratic office seekers because it was the first time 
in 30 years or more that a Democrat had been elected 
governor of the state of California. During that 
Session of the legislature, I was working for the Associated 
Press and became well acquainted with George Killion who 
then e Olson s public relations man. The governor was 
having great difficulty in finding worthy Democrats to 
fill open state offices. He made Killion Director of 
Finance, Director of Motor Vehicles, and an acting office 
holder in three or four other positions. This, of course, 
eliminated his usefulness to the governor as a public 
relations man. George asked me if I would step in and 
help out in the governor s office. With my background 
with the McClatchy newspapers, it was assumed that I was 
an ardent public ownership advocate, a sound New Dealer, 
because the McClatchy papers had supported Roosevelt 
from the beginning of his candidacy. And I guess that I 
was sold on the New Deal and its program of socialization. 
However, any competent newspaper man can write just as good 
a speech for a Democrat as he can for a Republican or he 


Leedom: is not worth his salt to begin with. You have to be 
like an attorney. You take a case and you are either 
for this or against something. If you are a competent 
attorney, then you prove your case. 

At any rate the governor s office was short on 
funds for staff. They solved the problems by hiding 
out in the various departments the men who could aid the 
governor s cause. Because of my background with the 
McClatchy newspapers, it was felt that the best place 
for me would be executive officer of the Water Project 
Authority. I was put on TAU there, took the civil 
service examination, and subsequently was appointed the 
administrative officer of the Water Project Authority. 
At that time Ed Hyatt, of course, under the law was the 
secretary of the Authority. It was the duty of the 
administrative officer to do the secretary s work. 

That was my first acquaintance with Bob Edmonston. 
Up to that time he had been just a name to me. When I 
first walked into his office, he was seated as usual at 
this desk. He was a huge man, always in white shirt 
sleeves as I was later to find, always with a cigarette in 
his mouth, the ashes dripping down his necktie. He rather 
reminded me of a wily old elephant. He knew you were there 
but he did not let on that he knew it. 

At that time Frank W. Clark was the Olson appointee 
as the Director of Public Works. He was cramming the 
Division of Water Resources with New Dealers, actually with 


Leedom: the objective of ousting Hyatt who was far from sympathetic 
with the ardent New Deal objective of socializing all water 
and power resources in the state. They installed Louis 
Bartlett, a little attorney, I guess 65 years old, from 
Berkeley, a member of the Commonwealth Club whose principal 
objective in life was to beat the drums for public owner 
ship. Secretly Clark was touting Louie to take over the 
position of Chief of the Division of Water Resources although 
he was not an engineer. It would have involved some shifting 
of the law but that has been done before . He c Bartlett 3 
had a dual capacity- -one, to see that Hyatt and Edmonston 
initiated a vigorous campaign for public ownership; and 
the other, to report directly to Clark on any variation 
from this objective. 

Giefer: How did Bartlett fit into the Commonwealth Club? They 
certainly were not for public ownership, were they? 

Leedom: No, but they had a very large collection of members and 

he was one of the odd -balls in the Club. He was a shrewd 
little attorney, but unsound. He was like all idealists- - 
he had a nebulous objective that he did seem to be able 
to rationalize with the reality of the situation. 

At the time I went to work for the Authority, they 
had collected a group in the Division headed by Bartlett 
which included a couple of so-called power experts, Ernie 
Rollson who bad been the city manager in Redding which 
had a municipally owned power system was one. Then there 
was a so-called fiscal expert by the name of Crocker, and 


Leedom: several others. Their purpose was to issue a bulletin 
which would show the advantages of public ownership of 
power. Edmonston, of course, was in charge of this 
endeavor. Without appearing to do so, he checkmated 
them at virtually every move. In other words, he said, 
"Okay now let s take Redding. It has municipal ownership. 
Let s find out what is off the tax rolls in Redding, that 
would have been paid by a private utility, what rate 
benefits do the consumers get, and so on. How much of 
this is supported by taxes. Let s see how much of this 
is hidden away on the library funds, and how much of it 
is hidden away here, and hidden away there." He knew 
all of the cover-ups, you might say, used to make public 
ownership most desirable. 

Being an appointee direct from the governor s office, 
I of course was under suspicion as being a spy and a cut 
throat for some time. However, Ed and I hit it off immediately. 
It was not very long before I became cognizant of the under 
ground politics that were going on. My sympathy was entirely 
with Hyatt. The Water Project Authority at that time was 
comprised of Frank Clark, the Director of Public Works; 
George Killion, Director of Finance (both of these were 
Olson appointees); Earl Warren, then Attorney General; 
Gus Johnson, a Republican hold-over; and Ray Riley, State 
Controller. This gave the Authority a membership of two 
Democrats and three Republicans. The three Republicans 
of the Authority were not too terribly, to say the least, 


Leedom: in accord with their chairman s views on public owner 
ship. My position as administrative assistant, under 
direction of the chairman, was not the most comfortable. 

Clark had the habit of giving orders without seeking 
the advice of the Authority. Then he would have them 
countermanded by the majority on the Authority. For in 
stance, it was the second year of the exposition on 
Treasure Island where the Authority had a Central Valley 
Project exhibit. It was proposed that a pamphlet on 
the Central Valley Project particularly emphasizing 
the desirability of its cheap power feature be boomed. 
I think it took me five months of preparation and revisions 
directed by Clark, and re-revisions directed by the Water 
Project Authority. When it was finally issued, it was 
a very adequate pamphlet. Far under the desires of the 
department and Clark, but a fair statement of fact. In 
cidentally, I was in charge of that exhibit on Treasure 
Island. For the first time we accomplished a method of 
super-imposing motion pictures on a slide background. The 
exhibit comprised a sixty foot diaramic screen, one of the 
first diaramas in California. With sets of balopt icons 
we showed a huge map of California 60 long and 20 high. 
This map changed with the story of the development of the 
Valley. Then, with a series of three automatic moving 
picture projectors we showed the actual scenes of construction 
of the Central Valley Project in their location on the map. 
We showed irrigation works, products and so on, to animate 


Leedom: the show, which lasted some 15 or 20 minutes. The 

whole thing was operated from a very rudimentary fore 
runner of our computer or punch button system of running 
things. The voice, the background music, all of the 
balopticons, moving picture projectors, the opening of 
a double set of curtains, one heavy outer curtain with 
a golden curtain behind it on which the original map 
of California was first dimly shown as the curtains opened 
on our diaramic screen. It all ran off of this one machine 
which was constantly going on the blink. It required the 
work of an electrician almost daily during the run of the 
second year of the fair. It did attract a great number 
of people though. It brought to them visual evidence 
of the progress of the project up to that date. 

Giefer: This was in 1939 and 19^0? 

Leedom: 1939, the fair ran 1938 and 1939 and this was the second 
year of the fair. I was on the island practically all 
the time. We, Merritt Nickerson and I, took all the moving 
pictures. I did my own cutting and pasting of the film. 
It turned out to be a pretty good little exhibit. 

(Interview No. 2, January 18, 1966) 

Ed Hyatt and the Central Valley Project 

Ed has often been called the father of the Central 
Valley Project. I think he was probably both father 
and mother of the project. He was directly responsible 

Leedom: for it being authorized by state law. 

The project itself was, of course, the culmination 
of a long series of engineering studies in which Ed 
participated actively from the early 1920 s onward. 
His background in the division was such that, of necessity, 
he became acquainted with the leaders in irrigation 
development in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys 
and in southern California and the Imperial Valley. 
Every irrigation district in the state, new or old, had, 
and still has probably, water rights problems. The 
Division of Water Resources was the last recourse in 
these questions outside of the courts. As a consequence, 
Ed had a wide acquaintance not only with the people 
directly responsible for the management of the irrigation 
districts, but also the basic problems of the districts 
both in engineering and legal areas. You have to remember 
that, in 1920 and 1921 when the final engineering studies 
were authorized for the Central Valley Project, the state 
was relatively small in population. It had about three 
million people of which a relatively small minority were 
concerned with the water development in the state. The 
large industrial centers were not particularly concerned 
with water problems at that time. Therefore, out of the 
three million people Hyatt became personally acquainted 
with virtually everyone in the state who dealt with the 
development of water resources. As I said before, Ed s 
manner of dress and simplicity of approach to the individual 


Leedom: created confidence among the farmers and others who were 
engaged in developing the water re sources. 

Giefer: He was being sent out on assignments? 

Leedom: Either through being sent out or through people coming to 
the Division for advice or with their problems. In 
addition to that, the field studies which were being made 
of the Central Valley Project through the period of 1921 
up until 1931 brought the Division of Water Resources 
and the personnel of the Water Resources in close 
contact with the farmers in the irrigation districts 
throughout the state. 

With this large acquaintance, it was only natural that 
when he became the state engineer in 1927 the people in 
water development would turn to their friend Ed Hyatt 
for advice or help with their problems. When Bulletin 25 
was finally issued in 1931, Ed in turn went to his former 
friends for their support. 

During the 1920 s it must be remembered that the 
Water and Power Act which would put the state in the water 
and power business had been defeated at the polls at least 
three times. It was defeated in 1922, then in 1921*, and 
again in 1926. So when the Division of the Water Resources 
under the direction of Hyatt proposed construction of a 
project of the magnitude of the Central Valley Project, 
it can readily be seen that it was almost an insurmountable 
problem to convince the people of the state as a whole that 
this was a necessary and meritorious project. Recognizing 


Leedom: this backlog of apathy or unconcern regarding vater problems 
on the part of the people, Hyatt was saddled with the Job 
of selling the project to the people of California. It 
was a slow process. 

It was not until 193^-jthr^e years after the project 
was proposed by the Division, that it was finally authorized 
by the legislature. Then after the legislature had passed 
the Central Valley Project Act, it -was forced into a ref 
erendum. This was when Ed s friendship with leaders in 
agriculture and business began to pay off. He was 
responsible for organizing what was called "The Central 
Valley Project Association" which consisted of key figures 
in business, farming, industry, up and down the Sacramento 
and the San Joaquin Valley; Clarence Bruener of Sacramento; 
Jim Fauver of Visalia; Roland Kern of Bakersfield; and a 
number of others. I cannot recall all the names of the 
men who were active in the Association. This organization 
provided the funds to finance the publicity necessary to 
sell the people of the state on the need for the Central 
Valley Project. The services of Clem Whittaker were ob 
tained. If I am correct, Bill Warne, now the Director of 
the Department of Water Resources, as a young newspaperman 
was hired as one of Clem Whittaker s assistants to help 
promote the Central Valley Project. 
Giefer: Wasn t it out on the coast, where the campaign was really 

Leedom: Yes, the fear was that southern California would be indifferent 


Leedom: to the project because there was no provision in it to 
bring water into southern California. However, the San 
Joaquin Valley was in very dire need of additional water 

The Association realized that if they did not sell 
Los Angeles on the need for this, that it was a lost cause. 
So they boomed the fact that if the farmers in the San 
Joaquin Valley, where this water was destined did not get 
this water, then Los Angeles would lose its business of 
marketing the products of the San Joaquin Valley. They 
also inferred that if Los Angeles did not support them, 
San Francisco would be given preferential treatment in 
marketing farm products. This was therefore a matter 
which affected their purses. Of course, when you affect 
the purse of a businessman, then he becomes interested. 
So, the businessmen in Los Angeles picked up the cudgel 
for the Project and in the final referendum, it squeeked 
through by a very narrow margin. However, it was adopted 
and the $170,000,000 bond issue was voted. 

Once that major bridge had been crossed, the state 
was confronted with the fact that $170,000,000 would not 
be sufficient or could not be raised to build the project. 
The Division and Water Project Authority, under the rec 
ommendation of the legislature, turned to the federal 
government for financial assistance. 

I want to backtrack just a little on that. At the 
time of the referendum, the fabulous Jimmy Rolph was our 


Leedom: Governor. Rolph was sold on the need for the Project 
through his good friend and political supporter Matt 
Sullivan of San Francisco. In addition to setting up 
the California Water Resources Commission, the governor 
decided that he would appoint a super-duper committee 
to end all committees, a state-wide committe of 380 
people representing every interest in the state to assist 
this Water Commission in supporting the Central Valley 
Project, which he did. Rolph on one of his visits to 
Redding heard, inaccurately, that there were two dam sites 
which he assumed were to be of equal value. Actually, 
it was the site of the Shasta Dam at Kennett and the 
Afterbay Dam at Keswick. In a burst of exuberance Jimmy 
said, "Well, let s build them both." He wanted two big 
dams. That was the kind of a gentleman he was. If he 
were for anything, then he was wholeheartedly for it. While 
his name does not often appear in the record of the deve 
lopment of our water resources, he actually played a very 
important role during his period as the governor of the 
state of California in creating interest in the project. 
If there ever was a showman in our governor s office, 
Jimmy Rolph was that, in addition to being a very sound 
and shrewd politician. 

To get back to Hyatt, under the direction of the 
legislature federal assistance was sought. The Water 
Commission, the Water Project Authority created by Central 
Valley Project Act, and the Central Valley Project Association 


Leedom: all began sending delegations to Washington to appeal for 
federal assistance. Hyatt, naturally, accompanied each 
of these delegations back to Washington. In addition, 
before federal assistance could be obtained, a report on 
the engineering and economic feasibility of the project 
had to be made by the federal agencies. Therefore, the 
Project vas reviewed by the P.W.A. , the Bureau of Reclamation, 
the Army Rivers and Harbors Board, the Federal Power Comm 
ission. Each of these agencies reviewed and made a report 
on the project . , So Hyatt was on a constant circuit be 
tween Washington and Sacramento. During this period, as 
I have said before, he was news. He was news every day 
of the week almost. He was the kind of state officer that 
you could pick up the telephone and ask for Hyatt and 
he would come on. You could say, "Ed, how about this dis 
patch out of Washington?" He would immediately fill you 
in with the background details necessary to make a good 
story out of an otherwise brief, dry paragraph out of 

His contacts in Washington included not only the 
Army and the Bureau, but the United States Geographic 
Survey with which the state had a cooperative contract in 
napping large portions of California. After I began making 
trips back to Washington with Ed, his approach to these 
officials was always that they were chiselling bureau 
crats and he was representing the pocketbook of California. 
You would think that every penny that was put up by the 


Leedom: state on a cooperative contract with the federal govern 
ment came directly from his own pocket. 

Giefer: He was just channeling the money back where it belonged, 
is that it? 

Leedom: That was for sure. 

Giefer: You were telling me that he kept a little book that he 
used, to give himself entree... 

Leedom: Yes, I ll tell you about that. I did not know it was in 
existence until after we had made a couple of trips back 
to Washington. It surprised me that he would be able to 
walk into any office in Washington Senator, Congressman, 
the Chief of Engineers, over in the U.S.G.S. offices, and 
the Department of the Interior offices, and immediately 
be greeted by a great smile by the secretary who was the 
receptionist. Ed would ask her about either her children, 
or how her ailing mother was if she was single; when she 
expected to get married, and countless personal details 
about each of these receptionists. It was not until a couple 
of years later that I discovered that Ed had a habit of 
chatting with these secretaries and with gentle probing 
find out something personal about them regarding their own 
family, or this and that. Then when he left the office, 
he would make a note of it in his little black book. He 
had the ages of their babies if they were married; he had 
their wedding anniversaries ; little items like this which 
when used on return trips made each of his appearances seem 
as though he were Just a member of the family because of his 

Leedom: inquiries into their personal welfare. It was one of the 

many reasons he was greeted with open arms in every office. 
In addition to that, Ed, despite his rather unassuming 
appearance, had a very keen mind, and a faultless memory. 
In his dealings with the officials behind these receptionists, 
he seemed to be greeted with equal welcome. There was very 
little formality in his dealings with the Washington offi 
cials except where it \* required. Virtually all of his 
contacts you could consider informal in nature. I believe 
they yielded greater results than a formal approach to 
every problem, and there certainly were innumerable prob 

From the time of the appearance of Bulletin 25 in 1931, 
up through the final passage of the Central Project Act and 
its adoption after the state referendum, you must remember 
it was at the height of the Depression when money was scarce. 
There had been a drastic change in Washington though under 
the Roosevelt administration. They had innumerable agencies 
set up in the government trying to assist people nation 
wide out of the Depression. The P.W.A., the N.R.A., count 
less alphabetical organizatlms and the so-called brain trust. 
They were looking for opportunities to expend federal 
money where it would assist in the recovery from the 
Depression. The Central Valley Project appeared to be 
a very likely project in which the federal government 
could extend some of its relief funds. The more the 
federal agencies looked over the project, the better it 


Leedom: looked to them. I think under the "Old Curmudgeon" as 

he was called, Harold Ickes, the long range possibilities 
of the Central Valley Project were immediately recognized 
and smiled upon. Ickes recommended to the President that 
this was a project the Department of the Interior and the 
Bureau of Reclamation might well take a hand in. This I 
do not know from personal experience but I do know the 

You see memory is like a scuba diver s view of an under 
water reef. It is decorated with the light and shadow of 
events that follow. My memory is not a true picture of 
what happened at that moment just as the scuba diver s 
view of an underwater reef is colored by the sunshine 
or clouds or wind on the surface or turbidity of the 
water. It is not a true picture of the reef. Well, 
memory is like that, I believe. What you think you 
remember today is colored with subsequent events. I 
believe that is true of my memory of the mid-thirties when 
the project was being promoted. 

Giefer: At this time you were working for the Bee and in touch with 
Hyatt. Were you making any trips with him at this time? 

Leedom: No, at that time they were all trips to Washington by 

Hyatt or trips by the officials at Washington out here to 
look the project over; we had Congressional committees 
touring the project and innumerable officials. All the 
basic data though was in the hands of the state. This 
was very important. When it was finally decided that the 


Leedom: federal government would invest money in the project, it 
actually required adoption as a federal project. After 
the preliminary appropriation which was never spent, that 
was the $6,900,000 of federal money that was put up for 
the construction of Friant Dam, it was found that it would 
be impossible to build Friant Dam without first building 
Shasta Dam. On the recommendation of, I presume the Army 
and the Department of the Interior, the Central Valley 
Project was reauthorized in 1937- An additional appropriation 
of $12,500,000 was approved in the Interior Bill by the 
President in September, 1937- That is really the beginning 
of true federal involvement in the Central Valley Project. 

Of course, at that time, as I said, all of the basic 
data was in the hands of the Division of Water Resources 
of California. The federal government had approved it 
as a federal project, but it had no basic data with which 
to begin the construction of the project. It led to a 
series of cooperative agreements between the Water Project 
Authority representing the state of California and the Depart 
ment of the Interior representing the federal government 
by which the state s basic data was made available to the 
Department of the Interior so they could initiate the 
construction of the project. 

It was assumed from the first by the state that this 
would be a joint venture, but by 1939> when I first became 
actively connected with the Water Authority as an admin 
istrative assistant, it had become evident that unless there 
was a definite showdown, the state would be eased out of 


Leedora: the picture. There were many conferences between Bureau 
officials and the Authority (which was largely dependent 
upon Ed Hyatt for its representation), to settle the 
question as to the role the state should play in connection 
with the project. Out of each of these conferences, nothing 
developed further than a temporary contract to continue 
the relationship between the Authority providing the 
basic data and the Bureau continuing the construction. 
This was the situation in 1939 when Olson became the 

To further complicate the matter, immediately on the 
day that the governor assumed office, he had a heart attack 
and was taken to the Sutter Hospital in far from satis 
factory condition and placed under an oxygen tent; for 
several days it was a question of whether he would ever 
assume the governorship. There was, of course, great con 
fusion among the Olson appointees because if this attack 
proved fatal to the governor, Ellis Patterson, the lieute 
nant governor, would take over and there was a question 
of whether they would remain in office. This condition 
continued all during the first session of the legis 
lature. I don t believe the governor got back into the 
office until just about the close of the first session of 
the legislature, so all business was conducted from the 
hospital bed through his son Richard as an indirect 
emissary from the father to the key men in the administra 
tion, which was not like direct communication. 

Leedom: It was at the end of the session that I went to 

work in the governor s office. It was only two or three 
months before I was transferred over to the Water Project 
Authority, still more or less, rather more than less, 
responsible to the governor s office. I think I said 
before that coming out of the governor s office to the 
Water Authority, I wag regarded with some suspicion, 
particularly by Bob Edmonston. Even probably by Hyatt. 
But by the end of my six months probationary period, Clark 
had become equally suspicious of my position with the 
Authority and attempted to have me fired before I be 
came a permanent employee of the Authority. Ed Hyatt 
and Earl Warren, George KLllion and even Olson jumped 
on Clark for it so he dropped it. 

In the meantime, I had learned a great deal about the 
difficulties that confronted the Division and particularly 
Ed Hyatt as the head of the Division. On the one hand there 
was the federal government very reluctantly giving the 
state any encouragement as to participation in the project. 
On the other, there was the Olson administration red-hot 
on public ownership and planning the take-over, if possible, 
of the sale of water and power which would be produced by 
the project. Ed was certainly in the middle. It required 
some dexterous maneuvering to keep abreast with the 
administration s desires and objectives and to fight off 
the federal government s encroachment. As a state officer 
under the direction of the legislature, and as the executive 


Leedom: officer of the Authority, the Secretary of the Water Pro 
ject Authority, it was necessary for him to follow the 
state s objectives. 

It must be remembered that in the 1939 session of the 
legislature the Pierovich Bill, which in effect would have 
set up a little T.V.A. in California permitting the state 
to act as the distributing or selling agency for the pro 
ject s water and power, was defeated by a very narrow 
margin. This, of course, left the state in an even worse 
position than before with the Central Valley Project. How 
ever, that did not discourage Hyatt, nor the Water Project 
Authority. I mean it did not keep them or restrain them 
from seeking additional funds for the project, which they 
did every year, it was one of the principal Water Project 
endeavors . 

Earl Warren 

In 19^2, I was commissioned in the Army and that is 
the end of my connection with the Water Project Authority. 
However, after I finished with my war duty, I again went 
into state service, this time with the newly created State 
Water Resources Board. That was during the Warren Admini 

Speaking of Warren, I want to emphasize his ability 
to grasp details and to retain them indefinitely. When I 
was still with the Authority and he was the Attorney General, 
his aspirations for the governorship were already evident . 

Leedom: He asked Ed Hyatt to fill him in on what was basically 
necessary to be well informed on vater problems in 
various areas of the state. Hyatt delegated ae to go 
down to Oakland armed with such material as I thought 
would be of assistance and to spend a couple of days 
with Warren. We did that at his house out in Oakland. 
We would start early in the mornings with the briefings, 
work until noon, then after lunch begin again and work until 
five o clock in the afternoon. To my amazement, in spite 
of the fact that I was loading him with statistical material 
of all kinds regarding the water resources of the state 
of California and background material, he could play it 
back to me almost like a tape recorder. He was a very 
easy man to work with. Once he assimulated any data, 
he seemed to retain it indefinitely. That was the only 
water briefing, so far as I know, that Warren had before 
his campaign, although as attorney general and W.P.A. mem 
ber he had a good general picture of California s water 
problems. Yet, he used it extensively throughout his 

His interest in water continued from the time that 
he was on the Authority right through all his years of 
the governorship. It directly resulted in his recognition 
of the need of an additional agency in the state to handle 
not only the problems of the Central Valley Project, which 
was the direct responsibility of the Water Project 
Authority, but also the numerous flood control and other 

Organization meeting State Water Resources Board, November 1, 1945 

Standing: Howard Cozzens, Royal Miller, B,Z. Eteheyerry, Lester Ready, 

R.7. Meikle, and Ed Hyatt 

Sitting: C.A. Griffith, Bradford 3. Crittenden, Governor Earl Warren, and 
Phil Swing 

Leedom: future water development programs in the state. He backed 
the legislature creating the State Water Resources Board 
and appointed its initial members. They vere chosen by 
lot for their terms. In other words, you drew lots 
whether you received a two year term or a four year term 
and the terms were staggered. 

The membership of that first board included Royal 
Miller of Sacramento; Lester Ready, one of the consulting 
engineers on the original Central Valley Project, the 
electrical expert; B.A. Etcheverry, the Dean of Engineering 
at the University of California; Roy V. Meikle, the long 
time general manager and engineer of the Turlock-Modesto 
Irrigation District; Howard Cozzens, for thirty years 
the County Engineer in Monterey County; and Phil D. Swing, 
an attorney and ex-Congressman from San Dfcgo: I think 
that is it. 

Central Valley Project 

Giefer: To go back to the thirties again, why didn t the state 

back in the early thirties ask to have the federal funds 
through the Reconstruction Finance Corporation? Why 
did they instead... 

Leedom: I cannot answer that. They went, of course, originally 
to the P.W.A. The P.W.A. asked for a feasibility report 
which Ray Matthews made, I think, almost single handed. 
I don t know though why they did not go to the Reconstruction 
Finance Corporation. Probably it was because the R.F.C. 

Leedom: was for industry of a private nature rather than the P.W.A., 
which was for public works projects. I am only assuming 
that, but I think that is why the effort was made to get 
P.W.A. funds. Then of course, when the P.W.A. was folding 
up, they transferred their part in the C.V.P. to the De 
partment of the Interior where the Bureau of Reclamation 
was the construction agency in the water business in the 
federal government. As I contend, they, presumably Ickes, 
took one look at the project and decided that it was much 
too good for those people out in California, that it 
should be a federal project and that its long range em 
ployment and other benefits to the federal government 
were much greater than the state realized. I still 
believe that it was naive, not only on the part of the 
state legislature, but the state administration, one 
succeeding the other, to believe that the federal govern 
ment would put up money to assist them in building a state 
project without taking over completely once it got its 
foot in the door, which is exactly what happened. 

Giefer: You made a remark when I first met you, something to the 

effect that there was a point at which P.O. & E. could have... 

Leedom: Yes, when the state found that it was in difficulty in 
financing the project under the $170,000,000 bond issue, 
the time was right for a great private power interest to 
step in. The door was wide open for them. If they had 
stepped in and said, "Now you have a fine project here and 
it has a large power potential so we want to help you build 

Leedom: that project. e will help build that project by under 
writing the power facilities of it." It would have made 
it easily feasible for construction as a state project 
along with the federal contribution on flood control. But 
the power companies were fearful of any state project 
that would develop power. They short- sight edly opposed 
the project from its inception. Their oppostion, of course, 
immediately closed the door and made them the bitter enemies 
of those promoting the Central Valley Project. It then 
evolved into a public and private power fight, with the 
power companies opposing the project although I don t 
believe their opposition to the project as such had any 
particular effect on Washington. It was effective enough 
to block the state s little T.V.A. to handle Central Valley 
Project power. It only served to change the distributing 
agency from state to federal. That of course is hind 
sight on the whole thing. The door, as I say, was wide 
open to them if they had been far-sighted enough. They 
could today be handling all the surplus power of the project. 
The project itself is a large power eater and ties in na 
turally with the private system. During certain periods 
there is a lot of surplus power available on the project 
not required for pumping. That is a valuable asset, or 
would have been a very valuable asset, to the private 
utility company. 

Giefer: What was Hyatt s relationship to the private power people? 

Leedom: It was good, I would say. He recognized their position 


Leedom: fvdly. They recognized his position fully. I do not be 
lieve that there was any personal enmity between them. 
They recognized that it was Hyatt s job to promote the 
project as a state project. He recognized their position 
as a private utility attempting to protect its own interest. 

On this public and private power deal, one of the 
lessons I learned when I went with the Water Project Auth 
ority was that there is no such thing as cheap public 
power. I was a newspaper man. Invariably I had used 
the word "cheap" in describing public power. It is 
just like describing the delta lands. You never refer 
to them as other than the "rich delta lands." So it 
was always "cheap public power." It was not until I 
went to the Water Project Authority, when under Bartlett s 
direction and Edmonston s direction this sbudy of public 
power systems was being made, that the basic principle 
of power was fully developed for me: that it cost just 
as much to develop a kilowatt of power by hydro or steam 
whether it is public or private, except with private power 
you probably have a little higher efficiency in economics 
of the development of that power. This is assuming that 
in the establishment of two hydro-plants on two identical 
rivers, one by a public agency and one by a private agency, 
the kilowatt development in the private agency s power 
house costs just as much as the public power house s and 

( Interview No. 3, February 17, 1966) 

Hyatt and Edmonston 

Leedom: Well, I think in order to develop the background on the 
Hyatt-Edmonston relationship, it is necessary to go back 
to the early 1920 s. Ed Hyatt was made Deputy Chief of 
the Water Commission in 1922. He became Chief of the 
Division of Water Rights in 1924. At this time there 
was a very definite move in California to put the state 
in the business of developing its water and power resources. 

Under the leadership of the League of the California 
Municipalities there was drafted in 1921 a so-called 
Water and Power Act which was placed on the Initiative 
ballot in 1922. This initiative would have granted the 
state the power to engage in the development of not only 
its water resources, but the power that could be 
generated in that connection. 

This bond issue was defeated in 1922. It was brought 
up again in 1924 and defeated, and again in 1926 and de 

I think that one of the controlling factors in the 
defeat of these bond issues was the fact that the state 
had no definite plan for the development of its water 
resources. The recognition of this need was expressed by 
the legislature in 1927 when it created the Division of 
Water Resources, and made an appropriation to the state 
engineer for surveys and studies leading to a master plan 
for the development of water in California. 


Leedom: Now it must be remembered that Hyatt in connection 
with the Water Rights Commission of necessity came in 
contact with virtually every leader in California s 
water development because every irrigation district, rec 
lamation district, and water district of any kind almost 
invariably ran into difficulties over its water rights. 
It was necessary to refer many questions to the Water 
Rights Commission. 

Along in connection with this, undoubtedly the 
Division was very much interested in having the state 
engaged actively in the development of its latent water 

In 192^, Bob Edmonston came into the Division. He 
had been in construction work as an engineer in irri 
gation works, building dams and other hydroelectric 
developments. While Hyatt was largely engaged in making 
the necessary contact political, financial, and otherwise, 
to put the state in the water and power business, Edmonston 
from 192k until 1927 was engaged in the engineering work 
which was to lead to the California Water Plan, or rather 
the State Water Plan they called it, the State Water Plan 

of 1931. 

Hyatt became State Engineer in 1927. Prom then on 
he, except for advisory work, left the engineering largely 
up to Edmonston who became his deputy in 1927. Edmonston 
was a man who could accomplish a great deal of work on his 
own. He never depended fully on anyone else s figures. 

Leedom: He had to go through the figures himself before he was 

satisfied that they could be put into print, or published 
in a bulletin. He was meticulous about this. This meti- 
culousness in checking the engineering figures and data 
stayed with him constantly until the time of his re 
tirement in 1955. 

Because of the nature of his work, he was completely 
sold on the idea that the state itself could develop its 
own water resources. . .whenever the problem was beyond the 
reach of the individual agencies, such as irrigation dis 
tricts, East-Bay Utilities, San Francisco s Hetch Hetchy 
and the Metropolitan Water District in Southern California. 

There is another factor which should be brought into 
this discussion and that is the Legislature Joint Interim 
Water Committee. This committee was created in 192?. 
Bradford S. Crittenden of Stockton, then an assemblyman, 
was named chairman of this committee. The committee held 
meetings throughout the state during the periods between 
the sessions of the legislature, which then occurred only 
every two years. They sounded out the feelings at the 
grass roots and obtained information on what various 
localities felt should be done on the development of 
water resources. At regular two year intervals they re 
ported their findings to the legislature. 

It devolved upon Crittenden s Committee therefore to 
make recommendations to the legislature which could or 
would put the state in the business of developing its water. 

Lcedom: When Bulletin 25 was issued in 1931, it was endorsed by 

the joint legislative committee. That is the real beginning 
of the Central Valley Project as it is now known. The 
project was laid out in detail in Bulletin 25. Crittenden 
authored the bill which would authorize the state to build 
the Central Valley Project and authorized a $170,000,000 
bond issue for this purpose. 

Hyatt, of course, played a tremendous part in getting 
that act passed by the legislature, and in defeating the 
referendum which would have recalled the act of the legis 
lature. At that time the United States and the world at 
large was at the height of a terrific depression. There 
was a question of whether there would be a market for the 
$170,000,000 bond issue. President Roosevelt had been 
elected and started his reversal of the depression through 
innumerable measures designed to pull the nation s economy up 
by its bootstraps with liberal doses of federal financial 
assistance. It was only natural that the state would 
turn to the federal government to assist the financing of 
the Central Valley Project. There was a large degree of 
flood control involved. Under federal law the state was 
entitled to a contribution from the United States government 
for the flood control and navigation values involved in 
the project. The project was studied by a number of 
federal agencies and eventually President Roosevelt made 
an emergency appropriation to initiate the construction 
of Friant Dam, which was putting the cart before the horse. 

Leedom: When this was pointed out to the Secretary of the Interior 
and the President, that appropriation was reversed and 
made for the construction of any part of the project. 

I have gone over the fact that the federal government, 
except for the state data, had no data of its own. There 
fore, they entered into a series of cooperative contracts 
with the state. The first of these was signed by Elwood 
Mead as Reclamation Commissioner. Mead was a true conser 
vationist. He fortunately was not of a bureaucratic type 
of mind. He didn t demand that it be done by his bureau 
or not at all. If you look back at the feasibility 
report on state ownership and operation of the Central 
Valley Project, you will find in the first cooperative 
contract a definite assurance on the part of the federal 
government that the state would participate, if not in 
the construction at least in the operation of the project 
once it was completed. I quote from the first memorandum 
of understanding which was signed in January of 1936 by 
Mead. It says: "It is contemplated that at the earliest 
practicable date a contract will be entered into betveen the 
United States and the Water Project Authority, providing 
for, but not limited to: (a)The operation and maintenance by 
the authority of useful units of project, upon presenting 

assurance of payment satisfactory to the United States of 

the cost thereof. This was a very definite statement on 

the part of the federal government that the state was ex 
pected to take over, operate, and maintain the project if 

California State Water Project Authority, Feasibility of State 

ownership and operation of. tkiie Central Valley Project of California. 
(1952), P. ?2. 


Leedom: it could pay the costs of the project, that is assure re 
payment of the cost of the project. 

In the second and third supplemental contracts be 
tween the state and the federal government, the language 
that I have Just read was changed to: "It is contemplated 
that at the earliest practical date and as soon as per 
mitted by law, a contract will be entered into, ... " etc.* 
That was the first hedge on the part of the federal govern 
ment, the seven words "and as soon as permitted by law." 

However, up until 1939 the state still held hope that 
it would be permitted to maintain and operate the project 
after its completion. In 1939 though, Secretary of the 
Interior Harold Ickes wrote a letter to the Authority, 
dated April 13, 1939, which contained the final hedge. 
He says: "Federal reclamation laws, as construed by 
the Department of the Interior, especially with respect 
to the principal part of the irrigation water made 
available from a project, re quire that repayment 
contracts shall be made only with agencies which have 
the power directly to assess and to create liens on the 
property of water users. It *es the understanding of 
the Secretary that the Water Project Authority does not 
have such power and therefore it is doubtful if the 
authority could be the contracting agency for the pur 
chase of the principal part of the water supply to be 
made available for the project." He ended up by saying, 
"I suggest that you explore further the possibilities, and 


Leedom: I would appreciate receipt of any concrete plan which may 
be evolved. I assure you that I consider your efforts 
to be worthy of encouragement, and I pledge my active coop 
eration in any plan which will lead to the maximum public 

That was a nice face-saving statement which did not 
mean a thing because nothing concrete developed from 
further exchanges in letters. It was clearly evident to 
Hyatt and to the governor and to the Water Project Authority 
that the federal government had no intention whatsoever 
of releasing any part of the Central Valley Project to 
the state. 
Giefer: Had they any way of knowing before they got this letter 

that this was in the wind? 

Leedom: Yes, with each of the contracts between the state and the 
federal government it became more difficult on the part 
of the state to get the federal government to give them 
any assurance. It was a graduated step-by-step elimination 

Hyatt, as the man who fought the battles in Washington 
and Sacramento, of course, was very disappointed that 
the Project for which he had worked and lived and fought 
for so many years was taken out of the hands of the state. 

Edmonston in the background was intensely bitter. 
His references to the Bureau of Reclamation are not for 
the record. They were far from complimentary. 

However, I will say this for Ed Hyatt, and for Edmonston 

*Ibld., p. 23. 


Leedom: when he became State Engineer, both consistently fought 
for adequate appropriations for the project. In fact, 
I believe in a number of cases they urged larger appropri 
ations from Congress for the project than was actually 
sought by the Bureau of Reclamation or the Department of 
the Interior. Hyatt never, in any public appearance, 
indicated that he was otherwise than perfectly happy 
with the construction of the project by the federal 
government. If he felt as though he had been shoved 
aside by a more powerful agency, he never made a point 
of it in meetings either public or private as far as I 
can remember. 

I do remember one day after a particularly long 
session of negotiations, Hyatt made the off-hand remark 
that, "You know, we have some 8,000 or 10,000 years of 
written history, and so far as I can see, man has changed 
very little in that time. We have not done away with greed 
or avarice or lust for power." But that was purely in a 
private conversation and not in character with his public 
statements at any time. 

Giefer: He did have a public face then, didn t he? 

Leedom: His position, I believe, was that he recognized the terrific 
need for the project in California and he would rather it 
was built by the federal government, if necessary, than 
not built at all. It was the lesser of the two evils. 
Even in 19^0, when the state was trying to set up 
its little CVA (Central Valley Authority) for the purpose 


Leedom: of handling the water and power from the project, hope for 
state participation in the project had not diminished. 
In the background, Hyatt and Edmonston were working on 
a plan by which the state could actually buy out the 
Central Valley Project. In 1951, there had "been a 
Senate concurrent resolution introduced, asking the 
Water Project Authority to report to the legislature 
not later than June 15, 1951 on the status of studies re 
lative to the future ownership and operation of the Central 
Valley Project by the state, and to furnish to the legis 
lature by 1952 a report on the legal and financial feasibility 
of the state s assuming ownership. 

In the Budget Bill of 1952, there was included an item 
of $10,000,000 for the acquisition of the Central Valley 
Project by the state on a self liquidating basis, in 
other words to pay the initial installments. 

Edmonston produced the feasibility report in 1952. 
It was a very comprehensive report which covered not only 
the cost of the project, but the proposals for financing 
it by the state, the legal steps that would be necessary, 
in fact, a complete diagram of how and why- -how the state 
could assume ownership of the project and at what cost. 
In that report incidentally, it was shown that the project 
authorized by the state at a cost of approximately $170,000,000 
under the Bureau s construction program and with the addition 
of Folsom Dam had mounted from $170,000,000 to $635,000,000. 

Even at this figure the report showed that the state 


Leedom: could purchase the project, pay off the cost and be making 
money by about the year 1995 or the year 2000. Revenues 
would then pay for the entire project and the state would 
be out of the red by that time. 

But as I say, prior to 1952 or subsequent to the 
issuance of the feasibility report, it was quite evident 
that the state was not going to be able to lay hands on 
the project. 

However, Edmonston long had been working on a much 
broader plan, a plan which is now known as the California 
Water Plan, comprising the construction of the Oroville 
Dam on the Feather River and the Tehachapi pumping plants 
which would take water from northern California clear 
down to the Mexican border, San Diego County. 

I think I had better tell you a little about Bob Ed 
monston. He probably had one of the best creative engin 
eering brains in the state. When he drew up the California 
Water Plan in rough outline, this was before the engin 
eering data had been compiled on it, the engineers in the 
Division called it the Paul Bunyan plan. It... 
Giefer: When was he working on this approximately? 
Leedom: Studies for this plan were given initial authorization by 
the legislature of 19^7, chapter 15^1. Plans were deve 
loped in the ten years from 19^7 until 1957 by the staff 
of the Division of Water Resources, first under the direction 
of Hyatt, until his retirenent in 1950, and then under the 
direction of Edmonston, until his retirement in 1955- There 


Leedom: was no dam too high or too vide or too big for Edmonston e 
imagination. The Eel River Den proposed in this plan, I 
believe, would be the largest dam in the world. This 
would be the largest dam in the world of any kind. The 
Feather River Dam at Oroville is probably the largest 
structure of its kind to date. I am not sure if there 
is a larger one in Russia or not. It certainly is larger 
than anything in Europe, Africa, the United States, or 

Bob never overlooked the possibility of following the 
highest line for transportation of water. As a matter of 
fact, in some respects, he resembled Robert Marshall, 
except Bob s plan was usually to put the main canals at 
a higher elevation. 

I remember one day we were driving out to the airport 
in San Francisco. He had the driver pull off the road and 
turn back up behind Candlestick Park. He pointed out a 
highway route over the top of the hills which would lead 
directly from the Golden Gate Bridge to Candlestick Park 
and how a bridge could be placed across the Bay at that 
point. There would be practically no interference with 
residential development and very little interference with 
industry down on the Bayshore because you would bridge 
over the industry. Later he proposed this route to 
George McCoy, the Chief Engineer of the Division of Highways, 
but it was too much for George to swallow. However, it 
would have made a very logical and fine direct route. At 

Leedom: that time there was virtually nothing on top of those 

hills from the Golden Gate right across to the bay. You 
vould have dropped down off the hills and you would have 
had a brand new crossing of the bay. It would be able to 
feed direct from the north coast into the San Joaquin 
Valley with practically no interference in San Francisco 

As I say, he probably had the finest engineering 
brain of anybody I ever knew. Yet, basically there was 
a strain of the college boy in him he never got over 
his college days once he was away from his desk. Every 
year, unfailing, he made a great deal of Guy Fawkes 
Day. It took me some time to figure out just why he 
was so jubilant on Guy Fawkes Day until I remembered 
Guy Fawkes had tried to burn down the Parliament. I think 
that s why Edmonston admired Guy Fawkes. Edmonston had 
a suspicious view of politicians. Hyatt on the other hand 
was a very fluent speaker and at ease in any company. 
Edmonston spoke with great difficulty. For a man with so 
fine a background in engineering, and well educated in 
other fields, he was inarticulate in the extreme when he 
made a public appearance. He dreaded having to go before 
committees and the legislature. 

As a matter of fact, a Congressional Committee was 
out in California looking into something. I have forgotten 
what their purpose was but Glair Engle was the Chairman 
of the Committee, or acting chairman here in California. 


Leedom: They were meeting over in the Capitol Building and notified 
Bob that he was to appear before them at ten o clock on 
the following morning. Well, Bob was busy with something 
else at the moment so he sent Tom Waddell, his assistant, 
to appear in his behalf. Engle was not only shocked at 
this disregard for a Congressional Committee, but he was 
terribly angry about it. They were going to charge Bob 
with contempt of Congress if he did not appear immediately. 
Finally Edmonston,raost unwillingly, appeared before the 

He had a habit when among convivial friends of cutting 
off neck ties a pure college boy stunt that you would not 
expect of an engineer of his stature. 

I remember one time when we went down to Texas to a 
National Reclamation Association meeting. At that time, 
Edmonston had been appointed State Engineer, was President 
of the Western State s Engineers, and it was necessary for 
him to make several talks before the Association. There 
was a dinner given one evening which everyone foresaw as 
a very stuffy affair, so Bob and a number of his cronies, 
Arvin Shaw, Ray Matthews, a couple of engineers from Los 
Angeles, a party of about eight, went to a place that 
specialized in Texas steaks on the outskirts of the city 
rather than going to the NRA dinner. The evening was quite 
convivial. As we left this ateak house, there was a broken 
piece of curbing that weighed all of thirty pounds lying 
beside the sidewalk. Bob picked it up, trundled it into 


Leedom: his car, took it back to the hotel with him, got a bell-boy, 
had it nicely wrapped in paper and had it delivered at two 
o clock in the morning to Charley Kaupke s door. Kaupke 
of course was furious at being awakened at two o clock 
in the morning to get a thirty pound curb stone. The 
funny part of it was that C.A. Griffith, Chairman of the 
State Water Resources Board at the time and also at this 
convention, blamed me to his dying day for being at the 
bottom of this rock for Charley Kaupke business. He 
never suspected Bob Edmonston. Incidentally on that trip 
I was hired by Edmonston at a salary of $0.00. Every 
time I would turn out a resolution or finish a speech 
for him, or do another task, he would add another zero to 
my salary. Finally he boasted that he had an assistant 
whose salary ran into six figures. 

Bob worked himself to death. As I sy, he was very 
meticulous, checking everything. Everything had to be 
checked by him in detail. The last six months in office, 
I think, he worked maybe l6 hours a day on Bulletin 3 and 
the other things that were necessary for him to do. But 
he had to check every figure in Bulletin 3, the California 
Water Plan. Of course, it was necessary for him to retire 
because of his health, but that was only part of it. He 
was not on particularly friendly terms with the governor, 
but health was actually the basis because he only lived 
about 8 months after he retired. He was a sick man all 
during that time. 


Giefer: This was"Goody"Knight? 

Leedom: That was Knight, yes. Knight, you know, would call you 

over for a conference to be briefed on some water problem 
here or elsewhere. The minute you walked in, he started 
talking to you and you never got to tell him anything. 
He was peculiar that way. 

Giefer: How did Edmonston take his elevation to State Engineer? 

Leedom: He welcomed it, I think, from the standpoint that it 
gave him free reign on building this giant California 
Water Plan. Of course, this thing is not only the Feather 
River Project; it involved diversion of the KLamath River, 
the Eel River. It covers the whole state; it is truly a 
California Water Plan, and a tremendous thing. Except 
for a few engineers, people do not recognize the magnitude 
of the Job that was done under his direction. He was, 
I think, very happy to become State Engineer, although 
he dreaded the public end of it. He disliked having to 
go before the Finance Committee and the Ways and Means 
Committee. He dreaded most of the appearances that are 
necessary. . . the State Engineer is always at the Irrigation 
District Association meetings, the NRA, innumerable meetings 
all up and down the state. His presence is almost obligatory 
at these things. That part of the job I know that he 
thorougly disliked. The engineering part he reveled in. 

Giefer: When you say, "He welcomed the post," had he in any way in 

the last years of Hyatt s administration chaffed under the... 

Leedom: No, he and Hyatt got along swell. He was very happy to 


Leedom: have Ed out there In front; he wanted no part of that at all. 
As I way, from 19^7 on he was working on his "baby." It 
was going to be the California Water Plan. The last three 
years of Hyatt s state engineershlp, Edmonston was com 
pletely immersed in the studies that were leading to the 
California Water Plan. They had put up a Quonset hut 
on some property over across the Sacramento River to house 
the increased staff that was necessary to work on this 
California Water Plan... Bob would have been happier 
working there than working in the front off ice. 

California Water Commission 

Giefer: Well, it sounds to me as though in the period, say, 1925 
to 1950, the pivotal figures were Edmonston, Hyatt and 

Leedom: I would say so. Of course, before Crittenden. . .well, they 
were the pivotal figures; there was no doubt about that. 
In addition to these three pivotal men, the influence of 
the California Water Resources Commission appointed by 
Governor Rolph in 1931 shouldn t be overlooked: Arthur 
B. Tarby; Shannon Crandall; Matt Sullivan he was the 
chairman from San Fransisco and a boson friend of Governor 
Rolph; James Burke, a Visalia water attorney; Jesse 
Poundstone from up around Colusa; R.C. Hardison who was 
also from up in the valley, I believe; Francis Carr from 
Redding, an attorney; Colonel Barton who was the manager 
of the State Reclamation Board; and of course, Ed as ex- 


Leedom: officio member of that commission. That commission probably 
gave more prestige to the Central Valley Project than any 
other subsequent or former commission. 

Glefer: Can we say something about this commission, some rf the 
relations between the legislature and the commission? 

Leedom: I don t knov much about the commission except that it 
formed a political front statewide for Jimmy Rolph in 
favor of the Central Valley Project. The Joint Legislature 
Interim Committee on Water Problems, however, was a diff 
erent thing. The committee s purpose was to go out in 
the grass roots and find out the sentiment of the people 
and build up sentiment for whatever the committee believed 
was necessary. They didn t only meet in the Sacramento 
Valley and the San Joaquin Valley where there was a very 
definite need for additional water supplies, they made 
tours up the north coast where you have terrific flood 
control problems and they toured southern California. 

I think over the years from 1987 up until his re 
tirement in about 1952, Crittenden was the chief waterwheel 
in the legislature. The Interim Committee is still in 
existence, I believe, with Carley Porter and Mrs. Davis. Pwter 
is the man who has replaced Senator Crittenden. I don t 
know whether Grunsky is on that committee or not, but it 
still is a very active committee. 

Giefer: I am not sure whether an "Interim Committee" still exists. 

Leedom: They call it the "Joint Legislative Water Committee," I 


Giefer: Colby, in the Senate. 

Leedom: Colby from Merced, yes. I don t know who else is on though. 

Giefer: Is there a distinction to be made here about engineers 
dominating. . . 

Leedom: Well, the Water Authority was set up for a very specific 
purpose, only to handle the Central Valley Project and 
maintenance operation of the Project. When the 19Mt- Flood 
Control Act was passed by the Congress which spread the 
Flood control activities of the federal government over 
a much wider field than it had been under the Corps of 
Engineers, there was no state agency prepared to undertake 
the survey of new flood control projects and what would 
be required as local contribution. 

I know Crlttenden introduced a bill which set up the 
California Water Commission; it was the State Water Board 
at the time. He got an appropriation for distribution to 
these local agencies to assist in the local contribution 
required under the 19^^- code, but it was an entirely new 
field of endeavor. The State Reclamation Board, while it 
had power to act on the Sacramento River flood control 
project, didn t have power to go outside of that. The 
Water Authority could only deal with the Central Valley 
Project. That is why the State Water Resources Board was 
created. Of course, that has evolved from an agency which 
reviews these projects and hands out the money to an entirely 
different thing. Now it deals with approval of the rights 
of way for the Feather River Project and basic water prob 
lems statewide. 


Leedom: There was no conflict though. The Authority could not 
function as was required under the federal law, nor could 
the Reclamation Board so they set up a brand new agency. 

(Interview No. **, September 2, 1966) 

State Water Resources Board 

I think earlier I mentioned the fact that Governor 
Warren was deeply interested in water development in 
California. He, as Attorney General, was a member of 
the Water Project Authority and became very familiar 
with the efforts of the Authority to develop the Central 
Valley Project. At the 19^- session of Congress, the 
Rivers and Harbors Bill was adopted as a post-war construction 
program to take up any sudden slacking off in employment 
nationwide. The Act authorized the expenditure of $kOO million 
for rivers and harbors and flood control projects nation 
wide. The 19^^ Act authorized construction by the Corps 
of Engineers of eleven multiple purpose and five flood 
control reservoirs and related and supplemental channel 
and levee improvements in the Sacramento and San Joaquin 
Valleys; a number of projects in Southern California, in 
cluding the Los Angeles Flood Control Project, and develop 
ment of San Diego Mission Bay Project; and the Pajaro 
project in Monterey County. All of these projects were 
then re-authorized by the State. When the Federal Flood 
Control Act of 19^ vas adopted by the Congress, a portion 

Boa?d Circa 1957 

rtt L. Grubb, 

, AdiniatratiTt 
-old ?r, rlc*. 

Leedom: of the Act provided that, in order to obtain the federal 
funds for construction of these projects, it would be 
necessary for local agencies to contribute costs of rights- 
of-way and a certain portion of the projects costs. There 
was not statewide provision in California for doing this. 
Senator Bradford Crittenden at Governor Warren s suggestion 
and with his assistance, had introduced in the legislature 
a State Water Resources Act of 19^5- It became Chapter 
151^. This Act authorized the State s contributions in 
the sum of $30 million to assist local agencies in the 
purchase of the rights-of-way provided for in the Federal 
Flood Control Act of 19^-. The Act also set up the State 
Water Resources Board and gave it wide authority, not only 
in allocating funds to the flood control projects authorized 
in the state and federal acts, but wide powers in inte 
grating and directing at state level the development of 
water resources projects of all types. It was the first 
time that a commission or board had been set up for this 
purpose. Prior to that the state had the Reclamation Board, 
which dealt only with the Sacramento River and San Joaquin 
River delta flood control developments. The Board was to 
be statewide in nature; that is, representative of all 
factions of the state. 

In November, 19^5* Governor Warren appointed a seven- 
man board which was geographically representative of the 
entire state. Ex-congressman Phil Swing of San Diego was 
appointed; Howard F. Cozzens, the County Engineer from 


Leedom: Monterey County represented the coast section. Roy V. 
Meikle of Turlock represented the middle San Joaquin 
section of the state. Lester Ready of San Fransisco 
was an electrical consultant with state wide connections, 
and B.A. Etcheverry, Professor Emeritus from the University 
of California, of course, had very vide water development 
experience. Royal Miller of Sacramento was at that time 
the head of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, and 
I believe he still is now. The terms of the Board were 
staggered and allocated by lottery. Royal Miller was 
elected the first chairman of the Water Resources Board. 
Shortly after the Board was appointed, Ed Hyatt came to 
me and asked me if I would serve as the administrative 
assistant for the board. At that time I was head of a 
public relations firm in Sacramento, and I had just 
completed writing for Brad Crittenden of the Joint Legis 
lative Committee on Water Problems a report to the legis 
lature. He reported bi-annually on the activities of the 
joint committee. I had been giving them a hand on these 
reports from the time I was with the Water Project Authority, 
with a lapse during the time I was in the service. As I 
think I mentioned before, my experience with the Water Project 
Authority was not altogether happy in that I found it a 
frustrating Job because of the political divisions on the 
Authority. I was doing quite well in the public relations 
firm, and was not very enthusiastic about going back into 
state service, but Ed was a very presuasive gentleman, as 


Leedom: was Royal Miller, and they assured me that this would be 

an entirely different set-up. There vas no division among 
the appointees politically, and they thought I would find 
it a very congenial and interesting job. Anyway, I was 
ready to give them a hand. The Governor had called a 
statewide conference for December 6 and J, 19^5> and 
had invited every agency that had anything to do with 
water in California to attend. That meant irrigation 
districts, flood control projects, reclamation projects, 
multiple purpose projects such as the Central Valley 
Project. It included the Corps of Engineers, the 
Bureau of Reclamation, the Soil Conservation Service, 
National Resources, Fish and Game, Forestry; in fact, 
everyone that had anything to do with our natural resources 
development . 

It required a good deal of leg work to get this con 
ference organized. While I had not yet accepted the 
definite Job with the Board, I lent my service to Ed to 
help him because all of the arrangements fell on his should 
ers. From the middle of November until the conference, I 
worked steadily. 

Giefer: Was this conference the Governor s idea? 

Leedom: The Governor called the conference. The purpose of this 
was to introduce to all the agencies the new State Water 
Resources Board, the newly appointed State Water Resources 
Board, and focus attention upon them and their activities 
in trying to integrate a statewide program of water development. 


Leedom: Very few people recognized the importance of the Act which 

the legislature had passed, its far-reaching effect on water 
development in California. The Board was empowered to 
initiate studies anywhere in the state that they felt were 
feasible and desirable, that is, economically and other 
wise necessary projects. 

In addition, the legislature had set aside $30 million 
for use by the Board in allocating funds to local agencies 
where they thought it was necessary to make a contribution 
on the federal flood control projects. This subsequently 
ran into many millions more than the original appropriations. 
They had to add to that subsequently. I think they are 
still in the process of paying local contributions. 

Giefer: In the formation of the Board, can you say anything about 
the forces that were involved? There were Warren, 
Crittenden, and Hyatt? 

Leedom: Hyatt, of course, recognized the importance of the 19^4- 
Flood Control Act. He and Crittenden had worked closely 
together over many years on water legislation. When Hyatt 
brought to the Governor s attention the importance of the 
Federal Flood Control Act of 19^ and its bearing on the 
projects proposed in California, Warren immediately and 
very enthusiastically supported the Crittenden Bill in 
the legislature. Actually, I don t believe there was very 
much opposition to the legislation. It was generally 
recognized that the state was going to have to make some 
provision for an integration at the state level of the 


Leedom: projects proposed and the financing, because in most cases, 
the local agencies didn t have funds sufficient to make 
the local contribution. Take, for Instance, Los Angeles 
County the rights-of-way for the Los Angeles Flood Control 
Project had already run into millions and millions of 
dollars. I think Colonel Hedger testified at one time 
that for the flood control project, the Los Angeles County 
Flood Control District had put up more money on its own 
than the combined contributions of the state and federal 
governments. San Bernardino County had a flood control 
project which was very costly from the standpoint of 
rights-of-way. On the Sacramento River flood control 
project, for another instance, the local agencies didn t 
have the money to provide these rights-of-way, but through 
the Reclamation Board they had been allocated state money. 
So there was a precedent for assisting these other projects 
statewide . 

I think it was generally recognized that the Act was 
a necessary step at that time. 

The chairman of the original board recognized Immed 
iately the importance of the provisions of the Act in pro 
viding a stepping stone to engage the state actively in 
the development of its water resources. He was even willing 
to have the Board tackle the very controversial and almost 
unsolvable problem of flood plain zoning. The problem still 
isn t solved twenty years later and probably will never 
be solved. But I cite that to give you an idea of the 

Leedom: boldness of the thinking of the Board members at that time. 

Miller was a fine organizer. He believed in getting 
everybody in under the sane tent, and instead of striking 
out single-handedly, to try to bring the various groups 
together in a unit to not only get authorizations for 
additional flood control projects in California, but each 
year to obtain sufficient appropriations for the projects 
that were already authorized. At his insistence, the 
representatives of the various statewide flood control pro 
jects were called into conference with the board and asked 
to present to the board what they felt were their needs 
for the following year in the way of federal and state 
appropriations. Out of that was formed the California 
Flood Control Conference, a body of men who represented 
the various flood control projects up and down the state. 
Each of these agencies had been in the habit of going 
back to Washington, sending two or three men every year 
and making a single-handed appearance before Congress. 
It was like shooting at a pin-point with a blunderbuss. 
They scattered their shots all through the hearings. Miller 
insisted they all get together and present all of it as one 
program and each agency would support the other s program. 
He was successful in doing this, and the fact that the 
Board took the trouble to screen these requests for federal 
funds prior to the appearance before the House and Senate 
Appropriations committees made a good impression on the 
committees before which these people appeared. Instead of 


Leedom: appearing over a period of six weeks to two months, the 
Board arranged that they could all be heard on a single 
day at a single hearing. After, I think, the first year 
that we went back to Washington, it was necessary to make 
two trips because we couldn t get the House and Senate 
heraings synchronized so that we could make a single 
appearance. However, the second year that we appeared 
there we were able to have the hearings held in tandem so 
that we made a single trip back to Washington. It was 
a big savings to local agencies from the standpoint of 
expense and to the Water Resources Board itself. 

Miller also immediately recognized the necessity of 
getting this program underway very early so that the Board 
itself could go to the Bureau of the Budget with the pro 
posed program and screen it with the Bureau, because 
actually the first word and the last word is with this 
Bureau. If the Bureau of the Budget says you are asking 
too much money, there is very little likelihood that you 
are going to get any more than the Bureau will go for. 
So it was arranged that the local agencies would appear 
before the Board, say in July, with the proposals they 
were going to take back to Congress the following spring. 
With that information, arrangements were made with the 
Bureau of the Budget, and usually the chairman and myself 
as executive officer of the Board, Hyatt or Edmonston, and 
frequently one or two members of the other agencies, usually 
Hedger from the Los Angeles District because it required 

Leedom: the largest appropriation, and always a member of the 

Reclamation Board to represnet the Sacramento River Flood 
Control Project, five or six of us would go back and meet 
with two or three key people of the Bureau of the Budget 
and go through these projects one by one with them. We 
would say, "this is what the local agencies think they will 
require, but this is what we think the Corps can spend 
on the project Do you think it is reasonable?" 

The Board would subsequently adopt a program that was 
approved by all the members at the conference. In federal 
appropriations it would run up to $100 million a year, 
California alone. You must remember that the original 
federal act had provided only $UOO million for all of these 
projects nationwide. So California was bucking the Miss 
issippi River and all of the rivers and harbors projects 
in the East and the South, and you must remember that 
those committees in Washington were then and still are 
largely controlled by seniority. Most of the seniority 
was in the South, so we had very stiff competition to 
buck on the basis of the amount we were asking. The 
Board was surprisingly successful in obtaining the amounts 
they were after. Usually Congress would appropriate in 
the final "bill virtually what the Board had asked for. 
The deficiencies were largely in appropriation for 
additional studies for getting new projects initiated. 
The going projects by and large were allocated what the 
Bureau of the Budget and the Corps of Engineers had said 


Leedoni: the Army could efficiently spend on the budget. 

I think that that covers the initiation of the 
State Water Resources Board and the part that Warren 
and Hyatt played in it. Of course, the Board undertook 
regional studies and was allocated funds liberally by 
the legislature to conduct these studies, and the results 
of the Board s initial studies have shown in what we 
nw call the California Water Plan and the Feather River 
Project, which is now far advanced and will be delivering 
water to Southern California in another three years. 

Giefer: The state Water Resources Board as such lasted until 1955? 

Leedom: No, I think it was 1956 perhaps. Well, they changed the 
title of it, and the powers of the Board I am not sure 
about this but in following the proceedings of the Board, 
it appears to me that the powers have been whittled away 
or transferred to the point that it now is more or less 
a rubber stamp for the Director of the Department of 
Water Resources. 

The allocation of funds for these flood control pro 
jects" is now a department activity. I do not believe that 
they now initiate any more studies. T Qe title has now 
been changed to the California Water Commission. I think 
a lot of changes in the Act were made at the time the 
Division was made a Department, and the powers that were 
originally invested in the board are now more or less in 
vested in the Director. This was in 1956. The Water Board 
continued in DWR, Division of Water Resources. 


Giefer: You were with them until-- when did you retire? 

Leedom: 1957. I was with the Board from 19U5 until November, 1957- 

Giefer: The Board met in Sacramento? 

Leedom: We met all over the state. The headquarters was in 

Sacramento, and most of the routine meetings were held 
there. But they made it a point to hold meetings through 
out the state, particularly in areas where there was a 
proposed new federal project. For instance, they met 
several times in Santa Rosa and Ukiah and on up the coast, 
even in Crescent City. They met in San Diego, down in 
the Imperial Valley; they held meetings in the Mojave 
Desert. They held meetings all through the Mother Lode. 
I would say virtually in every part of the state, where- 
ever there was a problem, they would go and hold a public 

Back in the very early days of the Board, I think in 
19U6, or Vf, there was wide dissension in Los Angeles 
County over the construction of the Whittier Narrows Dam, 
with the district Just about evenly divided on how the dam 
should be built and where. Everyone admitted that it was 
necessary, but nobody wanted it built the way the district 
wanted to build it. It happened that they had a freshman 
Congressman down there, by the name of Richard Nixon, who 
was right in the middle of it. So the Board held a hearing 
down in Whittier and heard all sides of the question and 
testimony from the Los Angeles County Flood Control District 
as to what problems were involved. They decided to support 


Leedom: the district in its proposal. I remember well going with 
Royal Miller into Dick Nixon s office in Washington, and 
Miller, who was not always a diplomat, laid it on the line 
to Nixon as to what the Board s decision was. He told 
him in so many words, "Now Mr. Nixon you have to get 
off the middle and go along with us . " The sweat broke 
out on Nixon s forehead; he was a very troubled young 
man, because his district was split 50-50. Any way he 
went he was in trouble, but he did support the Board and 
the district on the solution of the Whittier Narrows 

Royal Miller, the first chairman of the Water Resources 
Board, was a very successful businessman. He had a large 
automobile agency in Sacramento and branches in half a 
dozen towns up the valley. In Redding, Willows, Chico, 
there was a Miller and somebody else. He had interest in 
Dodge firms up and down the Valley. He was an enthusiastic 
supporter of public development of water and power re 
sources in the state. He also understood organization, 
and he insisted that when we went back to Washington we 
go at least three days early in order to make a personal 
call on each member of the California delegation in the 
House and to the two Senators. We made calls on the Corps 
of Engineers, a courtesy call at the Bureau of the Budget, and 
usually courtesy calls on the members of the Appropriations 
Committee. This involved a great deal of corridor traffic, 
but the effect was good because it brought to the attention 

Leedom: of the Congressmen the activities of the Board, and the 

Board s objectives. In addition to that, it served another 
purpose. The time before the Appropriations Committee is 
limited, and in the California delegation alone there 
would usually be some 30 to Uo people, all wanting to appear 
before the committee. Where you have that many people 
on about 20 to 30 projects, it becomes a question as to 
how much time can be devoted to each project. When the 
Clerk of the committee said, "The committee will allocate 
three hours tomorrow morning or day after tomorrow for 
your appearance; that s the best we can do for you," 
Miller would hold a meeting of the delegation in his 
room at the Statler Hotel. He always had a suite and 
made it the headquarters of the California delegationj 
then he would inform them how much time the group had 
and almost arbitrarily set up a time limit for each 
project so that each project representative did have time 
to appear before the committee. He had them limit their 
statement to as short a period as possible and then present 
a written statement with the statistics and data necessary 
to back up their statement. This was an entirely new 
approach to the question of hearings, and in spite of the 
fact that it arbitrarily cut some of the delegations down 
to much less time than they desired, they took It in stride 
and agreed to go along with it because they soon discovered 
it was the most effective way of making a presentation in 
Washington. As a result of Miller s organization along 


Leedom: these lines, invariably when the delegation had finished 
the presentation, the committee chairman complimented 
the California delegation on the manner in which, it made 
its presentation. I believe it also impressed other 
committee members. 

Miller served, I believe, two years as chairman. Then 
he had a rather severe heart attack and found that he would 
not be able to keep up the pace necessary as chairman and 
resigned. C.A. Griffith of Azusa, who had been president 
of the Azusa Foothill Citrus Company, a large development 
on the outskirts of Los Angeles, became chairman. 

Azusa Foothill Citrus Company was one of the last 
large holdings to give way to the residential encroachment. 
It was a corporation with stockholders, and they held out 
a long time against the general encroachment from the out 
side, but eventually the imbalance between the returns from 
the orange groves and nut trees and lemons grew so large 
that they began to sell off. 

Griffith was an entirely different personality from 
Royal Miller, who was very much the hard-nosed businessman. 
Griffith approached things strictly diplomatically. He 
was a very kindly person and very well versed in water 
problems. He had been engaged in that San Gabriel deve 
lopment, which was the source of the water supply for the 
Azusa Foothill Citrus Company, and had a very good back 
ground in water development in general in the state. Clair 
Hill was appointed to serve and served until I retired in 


Leedom: 1957. He was still serving when I retired. I think he 
retired from the Board and was placed on the State 
Engineering Board in 1958 the Board that qualifies 
engineers as to state regulations. I believe Arnold Frew, 
who was active in the Walnut Growers Association and 
several other agricultural associations, succeeded Lester 
Ready when he passed away. Frew came from King City. 
I might say that during all my term as administrative 
officer of the Board, I found the appointments made to 
the Board, largely filling vacancies caused by the death 
of the members of termination of term, were all very high 
caliber men. Without exception they had a wide knowledge 
of the water problems in California and viewed them, not 
from a local standpoint, but from a statewide standpoint. 
Roy Meikle, an original member of the Board, of course, 
had been chief engineer of the Turlock Irrigation District 
almost from its creation and still is consulting engineer 
for that Board. His life-long dream of building new Don 
Pedro is nearing fruition now in 1966. I believe they 
have an appropriation fou the initiation of construction 
in the budget this year. Phil Swing, the ex-congressman 
from San Diego, was co-author of the bill which authorized 
the construction of Boulder Dam and had a very extensive 
knowledge of the water problems in Southern California. 
He was in law practice in San Diego. He engaged, I think 
up to the time of his death, in the long, drawnout Pallbrook 
case. They were suing the federal government to retain 

Leedom: some of the water for local use instead of allocating it 

all to the marine base. He also bad a very vide knowledge 
of the Colorado River problems, having initiated legis 
lation, the Swing- Johnson Bill. I have a little anecdote 
about that. Hiram Johnson was a very fine gentleman and 
a very great diplomat. Swing as a young congressman was 
very enthusiastic, and also very verbose and inclined to 
talk out of turn at times. There was a conference to be 
held on the Swing-Johnson Bill authorizing federal parti 
cipation in the Boulder Dam project. As the story goes, 
Hiram Johnson said, "Now Phil, when we get in this con 
ference, I would like to have you sit next to me be 
cause I ll need your assistance in dealing with these 
people." So Swing sat on Johnson s right. During the 
conference there arrived a moment when there was a 
question as to which way the decision might go . Swing started 
to open his mouth and Johnson reached over, stepped on 
his foot, and said, "Phil, will yo hand me that paper?" 

With his vast background and experience in water 
problems in California, B.A. Etcheverry s Board was 
invaluable. I recall when they first proposed a project 
of a fresh water barrier down in Los Angeles County as a 
means of holding back the salt water intrusion, the Board 
financed this project through appropriations to the Board 
for the Los Angeles Flood Control District. The district 
purchased the water, and the board provided funds for 



Leedom: sinking the veils and pumping this fresh water underground. 
At each meeting there would be a report on the progress 
of building this fresh vater barrier. I recall that 
Professor Etcheverry used to look at the figures very 
carefully and ask some very probing questions about hov 
much of this water was being wasted seaward and how much 
of it was actually building up the barrier. He asked 
a lot of questions that were difficult to answer. I 
do believe that that barrier did eventually work out, 
and that they are now planning another up in the Ventura 
Section. I think instead of using Colorado River water 
on it now, they are using reclaimed sewage water, but I 
am not sure about this. Etcheverry s approach to every 
problem was very scholarly, but he also had a fine sense 
of humor. Quite frequently when the Board was involved 
in a long and tiresome discussion of some problem, it was 
Etcheverry who relieved the pressure with some Jokes of 
his own. He always could come up with a bright saying or 
a light turn of affairs to make it look a little more 
possible or probable of solution. I think the Board 
suffered one of its greatest losses from the standpoint 
of an advisory mind when Professor Etcheverry passed away. 

In addition to him, there was Howard Cozzens from 
down in Monterey. He had the longest record as County 
Engineer of any engineer in California. Unfortunately 
for Howard, one of the first projects the Board had to 
tackle was on the Pajaro River rebuilding some old levees 


Leedom: down there to project some very rich farmlands. The Pajaro 
is a very strange river. It can rise and disappear in the 
sand, and rise again, during a summertime. But in winter 
it produces a lot of water and it did cause considerable 
damage down there. While the farmers wanted the flood 
protection, they also wanted to preserve all the land they 
c ould, and when it came to the purchase of these lands from 
them for their own protection, they demanded the very 
highest price that they could possibly get. This was 
embarrassing to Howard. 



Althiuse, Irvin 3-6 

Bailey, Paul 17 

Bartlett, Louis 23 

Bruener, Clarence 29 

California ^lood Control Conference 69 

California (State Department of Public 

Works, Division of Water Resources U5 

California (State) Legislature, Joint 

Interim Committee on Water Problems kj-^3, l 

California (State) Water Commission 72 

California ( State )Water Resources Board 39, Ul, 62, 6U-30 

California ( State )Water Resources Coura- 

Isslnn 31, ^0, 62 

California (State) Water Rights Comm 
ission ^6 

California water conference (19^5) ^ 

Cali-foniia Water Plan 5*4, 58-60 

Central Valley Authority 52 

Central Valley Project 1^-lS, 25-39, ^3-^3, W-5 1 ^ 

Central Valley Project Association 29, 31 

Clark, Frank W. 22, 23, 2k, 25, 33 

Corning, California 5 

Courier Free Press (Redding, Calif.) 

Coszens, Howard Ul, U, 79 

Crittenden, Bradford S. U7-U8, ^0, ^1, ^5 

Edmonston, R. M. 12-lU, 20, 22, 2k, ^-^1 , 51, 

Etcheverry, E. A. Ul, 65, 78-79 

Fauver, Jim 29 
"Feasibility of State ownership and 

operation of the Central Valley 

Project..." 53 

Fink, Walter C 

Flood control act (19^) 63-6^, 67 

Folsom Prison 9 

Frew, Arnold 77 

Grifnta , C. A. 7^ 

Haley, J. J. l 

Hed^er, Harold 8, 70 

Hill, Glair 7^ 

Hyatt, Ed 11-20, 2^-39, ^5-^, ^, 51-53 

Hyatt, Ed Senior 20 


Johnson, Gus 

Johnson, Hiram TO 

Jones, Bob 

Jones, Gerald R. l6 

Kaupke, Charles ^Q 
Kennett Dam (proposed) 

?:ern, Roland 29 

Killion, Georee 21, 2k, 38 

, Governor Goodwin 59 

League of California Municipalities ^5 

MoClatchy, C. K. 15 

McClatchy, Carlos 

McClure, W. F. 17 

McCoy, George 55 

Marshall, Robert Bradford 

Matthews, Roy ^ > ^1 

Mpikle, Roy V. H, 6$, 77 

Miller, Royal ^1, *5, 69, 7 

Mormons 1 ft 

Nickerson, Merritt 20, 2^ 

Nixon, Richard 73-7 1 * 

Olson, Governor Colbert L. 21, 37-33 

Or land, California 

Or land Register 7 

Pacific Gas and Electric Company V2-U3 

Patterson, Ellis 37 

Pierovich Bill 39 

Public - private power controversy 15, 23, 38, k$ 

Ready, Lester ^1, ^5 

Riley, Ray 

Rollson, Ernie 

Rolph, Governor James 30-31 

Sacramento Bee 9 ft, I 1 *- 

Sta^ord, Harlowe M. lo 

Sullivan, Matt 31 

Sutter Club 11 

Swing, Phil *H, f k> 77-78 

U. S. Bureau of the Budget 70 

VanEtten, P. H. 

Warne, William 
Warren, Governor Earl F. 
Water and Power Act 
Water Project Authority 
Whittaker, Clem 
Whittier Narrows Dam 
Woodson, Warren 



2U, 38, 39-^1, 


22-25, 31, 3^-39 




Gerald J. Giefcr 

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota; undergraduate degree 
(1950) in English literature from the College of St. 
Thomas, St. Paul; graduate degree (1951) in Library 
Science from the University of Minnesota; has vorked 
with the libraries of Highlands University, Las Vegas, 
Hew Mexico (1951-53); University of Minnesota (1953-55); 
Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado (1955-59); 
and, since 1959, Water Resources Center Archives, 
University of California, Berkeley. Publications in 
the Archives series include, among others, Water wells; 
an annotated bibliography; Water; a subject heading 
list; and Index to periodical literature on aspects of 
vater in California. 

SACRAMENTO BE 9~-,it ^ I T7/ 

Sam Leedom Dies At 74; Was Former 
Bee City Editor, Water Board Official 

Sam R. Leeden, former 
city editor of : fhe Bee and 
later a top assistant of the 
California State Water Re 
sources Board, is eead it the 
age of 74. 

Leedom, city editor from 
1927 to 1935, committed sui 
cide \i sterday in his home 
after suffering from cancer 
and the complications of an 
auto accident. 

He lived in El Granada, a 
coastal town south of San 
Francisco. The San Mateo 
coroner s office reported the 
immediate cause of death 
was a self-inflicted knife 
wound. Leedom left a brief 
note for his wife. 

He had been liring in El 
Granada, a coastal town 
south of San Francisco, since 
his retirement in 1957 as ad 
ministrative assistant for the 
water board. 

Sam R. Leedom 

He is survived by his wife, 
Ella, who taught at the Lin 
coln Elementary School here 
before her retirement 

Leedom came to The Bee 
from Redding where he was 
employed as a newspaper 
man. His f irst Bee assign 
ment was m the paper s Su 
perior California depart 
ment but stories he wrote 
about the bloody Thanksgiv 
ing Day Folsom Prison riot 
of 1927 brought him promo 
tion to city editor. He served 
in that position until when 
whe went to the Orient 
shortly before the Japanese 
took over Manchuria. 

He wrote stories about the 

invasion, and, later, a book 
about the Orient. 

Hue trip was followed by 
one to the Dutch East ftdies 
and another aroootf the 

Returning to Sacramento 
Leedom for a Una* operated 
a publicity buxrnetst in part-, 
nerahip with Ralph K Clark 
and was a member f the 
Capitol staff of the Asso 
ciated Press before Joining 
the water board. 

He took an active interest 
in community theater activi 
ties and served a term as 
president of the old Sacra 
mento Community Players. 

Leedom was born in Mon 
tana, where his father 
owned a weekly newspaper 
in Billings. 

He was a seaman in the 
Navy in World War i and a 
captain in an Army military 
government unit in World 
War O. 

Before entering newspa 
per work in California, he at 
tended the University of Cal 
ifornia at Berkeley, where 
he was a member of Tau 
Kappa Epsilon. 

Leedom was a member of 
Provident Lodge of the Ma 
sons here and attained the 
32nd degree in the Masonic 

Services will be held at 11 
a.m. tomorrow under Ma 
sonic -auspices in the funeral 
home of Dutra and Randle- 
man in Half Moon Bay.