On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

On The Road and In Your Backyard is a weekday feature spotlighting reader submissions. From the exotic to the familiar, please share your part of the world, whether you’re traveling or just in your locality. Share some photos and a narrative, let us see through your pictures and words. We’re so lucky each and every day to see and appreciate the world around us!

Submissions from commenters are welcome at tools.balloon-juice.com

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!


Today, pictures from valued commenter 🐾BillinGlendaleCA.

Mulholland Dam and Hollywood Reservoir.

Mulholland Dam was built in the early 1920’s in the hills above the Hollywood section of Los Angeles by the LA Department of Water Supply(now the DWP). It was the first concrete built by the city(the second we’ll get to in a bit). I’ve been planning to hike to the dam from the back of the lake, but discovered that there’s a road(with parking) that leads to the top of the dam on it’s eastern side. So last Friday, with a hour or so to kill, I headed up to the dam.

Taken on 2019-03-15 00:00:00

Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

A panorama of the Hollywood Reservoir with Cahuenga Pass on the left with Burbank Peak(with the Wisdom Tree), Cahuenga Peak and Mt. Lee from left to right. Remember the ‘Hollywood Sign’ is not on Mt. Hollywood, but on Mt. Lee.

Taken on 2019-03-15 00:00:00

Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

When I arrived at the lake, the wind had died down enough to reflect the hills in the background and the ‘Hollywood Sign’.

Taken on 2019-03-15 00:00:00

Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

This picture didn’t work as well as I’d hoped in that the ‘Hollywood Sign’ is blending into the surrounding foliage.

Taken on 2019-03-15 00:00:00

Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

The face of the dam had arches at the top with sculptures of bear heads between the arches.

Taken on 2019-03-15 00:00:00

Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA

The Department of Water Supply built a bit of infrastructure in the 1920’s to hedge against disruptions in water supply(drought, earthquakes, or sabotage by the fine folk in Inyo County). After completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1913 there a number acts of sabotage on aqueduct in the Owens Valley. Now looking at the picture the dam doesn’t look all that tall, well it is, it’s just been buried a bit. After the construction of the Mulholland Dam in 1924, the DWP built another dam based on the same design in San Francisquito Canyon north of the current communities of Canyon Country. After it’s completion in 1928, Saint Francis Dam collapsed, killing over 430 souls(they never figured out how may died). The water level in Hollywood Reservoir was immediately lowered and earth was eventually piled up against the face of the dam and trees were planted there keep the soil in place(and possibly hide the dam from the residents down the hill in Hollywood).

There are a couple of commemorative markers at the center of the dam, including one that lists the Board of Water Supply. One name that looked familiar was C A Dykstra, he was later Provost at UCLA and the first undergrad residence hall was named for him and was my home for my first 2 years at UCLA.


Thank you so much 🐾BillinGlendaleCA, do send us more when you can.


Travel safely everybody, and do share some stories in the comments, even if you’re joining the conversation late. Many folks confide that they go back and read old threads, one reason these are available on the Quick Links menu.


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15 replies
  1. 1
    Elizabelle says:

    I am a fool for bear heads. How wonderful.

    Good morning, jackals.

  2. 2
    JPL says:

    The blues are so vibrant. We sure don’t build dams like the olden days.

  3. 3
    eclare says:

    What an elegant dam

  4. 4

    @Elizabelle: Since I graduated from a university whose mascot is a bear, I’m kinda partial to them as well.

    @JPL: I didn’t pump up the saturation or vibrance either.

    We sure don’t build dams like the olden days.

    If you read the last bit about the Saint Francis Dam, that might be a good thing.

    @eclare: Here’s what it looked like before the “cover up”.

  5. 5
    J R in WV says:

    Thanks for the added history of big Dam foolishness.

    That water sure is blue!! Must have been a sunny clear day!!

    And there might some good pictures waiting to be taken at the former site of the St. Francis Dam, reading the brief story of that engineering failure.

  6. 6

    @J R in WV: Friday was sunny and clear with a high around 80. There’s not much that remains of the Saint Francis Dam, just a few chunks of concrete. I’ve been intending to visit, it’s a bit of a walk from the main road now.

  7. 7
    Mary G says:

    “It’s Chinatown, Jake.”

    Surprised you could get so close. Great shots.

  8. 8

    @Mary G: Thanks. I was surprised too, but take a look at Google Maps, the road goes right up there.

  9. 9
  10. 10
    chopper says:


    if only they were bear arms, they’d be protected by the second amendment.

  11. 11
    Steve in the ATL says:

    Bears but no Trojans? Guess no one was bribed!

  12. 12
    StringOnAStick says:

    Interesting about the dam failure history. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the “pile dirt in front of the at risk dam on the pool side” strategy before and especially for a concrete dam. I’m sure there’s still some sort of water release structure that had to be re-engineered too, because once water starts to over top a dam, failure is imminent. Did the Saint Francis dam collapse because of a rainfall event or because of sudden structural failure?

  13. 13
    wkwv says:

    @StringOnAStick: Structural failure.

  14. 14
    apsalar says:

    The Saint Francis dam collapsed because of inherent instability in the underlying rocks at the location. It’s not something they could have detected at the time.

  15. 15

    @chopper: Exactly.

    @Steve in the ATL: I did mention that CA Dykstra was later Provost at UCLA, than again the Southern Branch of the University of California(as UCLA was known then) was only about 5 years old(founded in 1919).

    @StringOnAStick: The water level was lowered significantly after the Saint Francis collapse, here’s the current water level(shot from Mt. Lee).

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