|24th Mayor of Los Angeles|
|Preceded by||Meredith P. Snyder|
|Succeeded by||Meredith P. Snyder|
|Died||March 11, 1934 (aged 77–78)|
|Residence||Los Angeles, California|
Frederick Eaton (1856 – March 11, 1934), known as Fred Eaton, was a major individual in the transformation and expansion of Los Angeles in the latter 19th century through early 20th century, in California. Eaton was the mastermind supporter of the early 20th century Los Angeles Aqueduct—"Owens Valley Aqueduct" project, designed by William Mulholland.
Frederick Eaton was born in Los Angeles in 1856, into one of the prominent and founding families of what became Pasadena on the Rancho del Rincon de San Pascual. As an adult Eaton was a Radical Republican. He was a promoter of: the Civil War Reconstruction; of new railroads; of Southern California water supplies; and the city as the Mayor of Los Angeles.
Fred Eaton taught himself engineering and was the superintendent of the Los Angeles City Water Company by age 19 in 1875. As head of the Water Company, in 1878 Eaton first hired William Mulholland as a ditch-digger for distribution canals from the Los Angeles River to the city.
Los Angeles Aqueduct
While Eaton was the Los Angeles Mayor, from 1898—1900, he created the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and appointed William Mulholland as superintendent and Chief Engineer. Together, they planned and developed the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which was completed in 1913. The Aqueduct brought plentiful water to Los Angeles, which enabled an explosive growth. It also diverted the Owens River and its tributaries, taking water away from the Owens Valley which disabled the farms and communities there.
Round Valley - St. Francis Dam
Fred Eaton used his inside advance information about the aqueduct project to enrich himself and his associates at the expense of the city of Los Angeles and the Owens Valley landowners. Eaton claimed in a 1905 interview with the Los Angeles Express that he turned over all his water rights to Los Angeles without being paid for them, "except that I retained the cattle which I had been compelled to take in making the deals . . . and mountain pasture land of no value except for grazing purposes." Land was needed by Mulholland and Los Angeles to build a storage reservoir before the water entered the city. The Round Valley, Eaton's "mountain pasture land," was strategically located on the Owens River in Inyo County upstream of the Owens River Gorge and Owens Valley, and an excellent site to purchase. Eventually, Eaton's demands for a million dollars to sell it became so entrenched that they ruptured his relationship with Mulholland.
William Mulholland refused to authorize the purchase, and he relocated the reservoir and dam location to the Sierra Pelona Mountains near the Santa Clarita Valley, and built the St. Francis Dam. It collapsed in 1928 due to unknown weak bedrock formations, with much destruction and many deaths downstream along the Santa Clara River. Eaton's finances crumbled, also in 1928, and his ranch was acquired by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, where Crowley Lake was created for the aqueduct system's new storage.
Fred Eaton died in 1934.
- "Los Angeles in the 1900s:Mayor Frederick S. Eaton".
- http://www.pbs.org/weta/thewest/people/d_h/eaton.htm . accessed 7/27/2010
- "Fred Eaton". The West. PBS.
- http://www.laparks.org/pershingsquare/history.html . accessed 7/27/2010
- "Fred Eaton back from Owens River". Los Angeles Express. August 1905.