Driving west across Interstate 210 in California, these steps to the north next to a very old dam fascinated me. The steps are steep, and from my vantage point, the dam looked very old, and I thought there was no water on the other side.
Finally, my attention was riveted enough to learn more, and I started researching with help from a friend. It is a well-known fact that I am awful at googling information. With the help of Google Maps, it was pretty easy to pinpoint this area and to learn the name of the dam, Devil’s Gate Dam & Reservoir – Los Angeles County – California.
The dam was built 100 years ago and is the center of an ongoing project that is getting underway in 2020. In 2009 a fire, Station Fire, burned more than 160,000 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains. With no trees to hold back the sediment, all of this dirt drained into Devil’s Gate Reservoir. In fact, more than 1.3 million cubic feet of sediment, enough to fill the Rose Bowl Stadium three times. This sediment is lying on the north side of the dam, creating a flood risk. A project is underway to remove the silt and each year after to perform maintenance, so this predicament does not happen again.
The area also has a darker history or has a spiritual connection. The Tongva believed water running through the gorge sounded like laughter that was attributed to the coyote spirit. In 1920 the dam was built in the Arroyo Seco to control flooding and was then named Devil’s Gate Dam. The name came from the demon-like face of a horned figure in the natural rock outcropping.
One of the fascinating side benefits of being truck drivers is the areas of the country we get to see. I find it very frustrating when I am riding in a car as I cannot see many of these great sites that are easily visible from my seat in the truck.
I am glad I took the time to research this area and learn the history of the steps that held my interest.