The Failures

The Preservationists

Low water levels expose
hundreds of tree stumps, 1955
(Sierra Club)
       For preservationists, the building of the O'Shaughnessy Dam meant the loss of what John Muir called "one of nature's rarest and most precious mountain temples."   The reservoir now covers the valley that many described as the twin of Yosemite Valley.
        "(The beauty of Hetch Hetchy Valley is) altogether unimportant compared with the benefits to be derived from its use as a reservior." - (Gifford Pinchot (Hamilton))

Hetch Hetchy Valley Destroyed
(Restore Hetch Hetchy - Yosemite's Lost Valley)

First Inhabitants - Native Americans

Miwok home in Yosemite National Park,
preserved baskets in Yosemite Museum
(Mariposa Library)
       For Native Americans, the flooding of the valley meant the destruction of their ancestral home and many sacred sites dating back hundreds of years.
        "Some data are currently available about archaeological sites present in the valley. Seven prehistoric archaeological sites were recorded around the edge of the reservoir by University
of California, Berkeley, in 1951 (Montague and Mundy 1995:5). An additional 10 archaeological sites were recorded by National Park Service archaeologists in 1991 when the reservoir level fell to its lowest elevation since its original inundation (Montague and Mundy 1995). All of the sites contain prehistoric components, while three of the sites also include historic elements and one site reflects occupation by Native Americans during the historic era."
- (Hetch Hetchy Restoration Study, State of California)

The Conservationists

Sign at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir
(Restore Hetch Hetchy)
         The conservationists and San Francisco failed to live up to their promises that the reservoir would be a recreation spot with a hotel, campgrounds, and scenic road surrounding a beautiful mountain lake "on the surface of which rowboats and sailboats glide."  (see excerpts from John R. Freeman's report to Congress on potential uses for Hetch Hetchy)             
        Unlike other reservoirs used for water supplies, people cannot swim or boat in Hetch Hetchy and no public hotels or campgrounds were built.
    "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and sould alike." - (John Muir (History Matters- Dam Hetch Hetchy))