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Jan 07

Salinas Dam water tunnel completed under Cuesta Grade, World War II week by week

The Telegram-Tribune reports that Manila fell to the Japanese and actor James Stewart is at a pilot training base among other war news.

The year dawned with news of American and Philippine troops trying to hold ground against repeated attacks. Manila and the naval base at Cavite fell into Japanese hands as Allied troops formed a line at the top of Bataan Peninsula. This and the fortified island of Corregidor would deny use of Manila Bay to the Japanese.

In America new car assembly was halted as the office of production management planned to convert every automobile factory into war production.

Actor James Stewart was assigned to Moffett Field for flight training. At age 32 he was five and a half years older than the maximum age for flying cadet training and a decade older than many novice pilots. He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, the rank of many beginning pilots.

In San Luis Obispo county the Santa Lucia range was about to be pierced. The water pipeline would be the second project to cut under the mountain range, Southern Pacific had punched through a path in the 1890s.  The story below is from the January 2, 1942 edition of the then Telegram-Tribune. A photo was engraved and published eight days later. When the photo was published an article below it warned grain farmers that burlap bags were in short supply. Shandon farmers could only expect half the bags available in the new year. Jute was scarce and the army would have priority for the raw material.

Workmen Complete Tunnel Thru Cuesta

By Neff Smart
Two crews of hardrock miners—tunneling toward each other from opposite sides of the Santa Lucia peak above the Cuesta—were within tapping distance this morning and expected to greet each other late today to complete the mile-long tunnel in the Upper Salinas river dam project.
Completion of the tunnel marks one of the final phases of the $3,000,000 dam project which will provide culinary water for Camp San Luis Obispo and the municipality of San Luis Obispo.

After tunneling toward each other since early July from opposite sides of the mountain just west of the Cuesta, William Ward, foreground, and Bob Becham, right, congratulate themselves upon holing through last week. Thirty-nine men worked in three daily shifts in each portal of the mile long tunnel which will serve Camp San Luis Obispo and San Luis Obispo with water from the Upper Salinas river dam. The tunnel is six and one-half feet by eight and one-half feet and will be concrete lined. Joe DeMillita is superintendent of operations. Photo by Rodney Johnson

Dam Nearing Completion

Construction work on the dam proper, where 300 men have been working three shifts seven days per week, is also in the finishing up stages. Concrete has been poured on top of the 140-foot tall structure and the men are now building the spillway and flood gates. First concrete wan poured Sept. 5
Conserving of the water behind the dam began Dec. 6. When full the reservoir will contain 45,000 acre-feet of water and will form a lake seven miles long covering 122 acres. The am is situated nine miles east of Santa Margarita.
The tunnel—companion project to the dam—was begun June 5, and men have worked three shifts daily, missing only Labor Day, Christmas and New Years Day since they began Uncle Sam’s hurry-up job.

Pumping Station

Other companion projects to the dam, including installation of a pumping station three miles south of Santa Margarita and the laying of 10 miles of pipe line between the dam and the tunnel are also entering their final stages according to Maj. D. P. Slane, project engineer.
At the tunnel today was Joe DeMilita, project superintendent who has been in charge of the two-way digging for the 78 man employed on the project. Using power drills and mucking machines the men have worked in groups of 13. They have struck a variety of earth materials including solid rock, water pockets and soft dirt. The tunnel will be lined with concrete. It measures approximately eight feet by six feet.

Gravity Flow

Water from the 10-mile-distant dam will flow by gravity through the pipeline to the pumping station at Santa Margarita where it will be raised by 200 feet by electric pumps to the mile-distant north portal of the tunnel. It will drop through the tunnel by gravity and will then flow into Chorro creek and into the resrvioir at Camp San Luis Obispo.
The dam project was authorized May 23. Actual work started on access roads June 2.
Representing Major Lane on the construction project has been Capt. J.A. Fraps, assistant project engineer. Architect engineers were Leeds, Hill Barnard and Jewett with W.C. Christopher as resident director.
Superintendents for Dixon Inc. contractors, are H.J. King and K.L. Parker.
The dam and companion units when finally completed will be turned over to Col. Henry T. Bull, Camp San Luis Obispo commandant by Major Lane. They will be operated as a camp utility under the direction of Lt. Col. E.B Rowley, camp utilities officer.

Related posts:

  1. Train wreck, Salinas Dam construction World War II week by week
  2. Salinas tunnel accident, World War II week by week
  3. 1890 Cuesta Grade Tunnel
  4. Japan Denies War Move, World War II week by week
  5. Closing the Gap, Cuesta Grade and the Railroad