LA Times reveals identity of 1976 aqueduct bombers

latimesbombingBack in 1976 when John Heston and Benett Kessler started Eastern Sierra News Service, a drought hit the Eastern Sierra and so did major political controversy over the Department of Water and Power’s aggressive groundwater pumping. It was the fall of that year when two young, local men bombed the Alabama Gates, part of the LA Aqueduct. Their identities were not publicly discussed – one of them was a juvenile – and Kessler said that privately the two suspects were heralded as heroes. Wednesday, LA Times reporter Louis Sahagun revealed the whole story on the men who dynamited the aqueduct. http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-c1-aqueduct-bomber-20131030-dto,0,7855162.htmlstory#axzz2jEiNWvzK

Sahagun sat down with Mark Berry, who decided to go public with his story. He was 17 at the time of the bombing. Reporter Sahagun wrote that Berry and his 20-year-old friend, Robert Howe, broke into an Inyo County building where they found a box of dynamite. The Times story tells how the young men were angry about how DWP was drying up the Owens Valley. That’s not a new theme for the area where bombings of the aqueduct were numerous in the 20s and 30s after installation of the aqueduct in 1913, and after major diversion of streams, and the start of groundwater pumping.

The violence had stopped, but with renewed concern about the environment in 1976, the filing of an environmental lawsuit by Inyo County, and consistent news reporting about LADWP’s activities, the populace grew angry.

Reporter Sahagun wrote about how the young men blew up the Alabama Gates, and how locals secretly cheered them on. The pair went through the legal system, according to the Times, with limited penalties. The story says Mark Berry moved away from the area but returned in 2000. Ironically, he now works for DWP.

Sahagun’s story comes at a time when LADWP celebrates the 100th anniversary of the aqueduct. Other stories and opinion pieces are expected in the Times, including an op-ed piece by Bill Kahrl, the author of “Water and Power.”

 

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salblaster
salblaster
8 years ago

at mark. thats funny you remember the railroad crossing south of little lake. that rough bump knocked the driveline off my buddies chevelle on a hot summer day in the early 80’s,and we had to walk to pearsonville to get parts. no one would pick us up, probably because we… Read more »

Mark
Mark
8 years ago

“We had a rail line? ”

I’m continuely amazed at how little most know about the area they live in. The Owen’s Valley has some interesting history, I suggest reading everything you can about it. You will find it enjoyable, interesting, and educational.

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago

The most important part of this Story are the Kids. Tonight as the tricker treaters are at our doors, we are seeing our future. I’m thinking that they are being raised to do anything in the world that they can envision. I’m thinking that Parents are striving for their children… Read more »

enoughalready
enoughalready
8 years ago

What would Hayduke have done?
Who is Hayduke?
Time to go read a book.

Is The Monkey Wrench Gang available on Kindle?
What would Edward say about that?

Trouble
Trouble
8 years ago

Mongo- I doubt sells much land around here in our life time. Water rights , power and control bubba!

Mark
Mark
8 years ago

“Ironically, he now works for DWP.”

You got to be kidding, but I know you’re not. 😉

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
8 years ago

Todays dynamite in dealing with an Institution like the DWP needs to be a constant educated vigilant oversight of the activities of that Institution. There needs to be actions such as becoming involved in the public discussion and decision making activities that will preserve what has been millions of years… Read more »

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

I feel hopeless, I believe that the valley is doomed. Soon technology will solve the water and power problems and massive tracts of houses will go in. DWP will become a realtor and maximize profits on their real estate investment. I may stop blogging and go outside so I can… Read more »

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago

And what do you imagine the Owens Valley might look like had not the DWP bought the land and water rights they bought 100 years ago? Owens Valley would be far more developed and urbanized than it is now. The much reviled DWP is the primary reason this valley has… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago

That’s an old argument and debatable. We don’t really know specifically what would have happened had all or part of our water remained here. It might be a lush agricultural area with some development. We are too remote, with no rail lines, to develop big city commerce. It sure would… Read more »

Big Rick OBrien
Big Rick OBrien
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

Bennett, there USED to be rail lines, but they were scrapped in the 50’s. Remember the opening of “Bad Day at Black Rock”? The Southern Pacific running north-bound from Mojave , parallel with 395, stopping at the Lone Pine siding, before continuing on to Bishop ? I realize it was… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago

Yes, I do remember the rail lines, the depot at Lone Pine. Yes, they were abandoned when the Valley’s agriculture dried up.
Thanks,
BK

Trouble
Trouble
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

We had a rail line? But, I still don’t understand why we don’t try to expand all of our cities in Inyo say one mile out?

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago
Reply to  Trouble

LA owns the land, and Inyo officials have never really pushed for it.
BK

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

All you have to do is look at the San Joaquin Valley to see what would have happened. If you think farmers are any more concerned about the environmental effects of water diversion, all you need to do is look at what the Friant Dam and associated Friant Kern Canal… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago

That’s one view.
BK

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

Eh, deregulation of the trucking industries followed by deregulation of the rail industry in the 1980’s are the two events that ended the profitability of eastern Sierra Nevada rail lines. Before deregulation of trucking, the ICC regulated the rates truck companies could charge, their routes, regulated what companies could haul… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago

I appreciate your information which undoubtedly highly influenced the profitability of the rails, but historical accounts say that the gradual end to the Owens Valley agricultural business, which had meant shippping of produce both north and south, also contributed to the demise of rail.
Benett Kessler

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

You might have an argument except for the detail that railroads throughout the region were closed and their tracks removed. There were rail lines all the way from Reno north to Oregon east of the Sierra Nevada and Cascades, but north Sierra Army Depot next to Honey Lake they are… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
8 years ago

Dear DT, You don’t have to always prove other people totally wrong in order to prove you are right.
BK

Mark
Mark
8 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

The Slim Princess was built to service the mineral resource industries and this is why it ran down the less habitable east side of the valley which made it a outing for most Owen’s Valley residence to just get to the railroad.. The slowdown of mining also had a lot… Read more »

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago

“And what do you imagine the Owens Valley might look like had not the DWP bought the land and water rights they bought 100 years ago?” Three to ten million dollar homes in the Alabama’s, Golf courses, country clubs and polo fields. Big box stores and metroplex move theaters. A… Read more »

Mongo The Idiot
Mongo The Idiot
8 years ago

My long term prediction for the valley is that technology eventually solves the water and power issues that make it so attractive to DWP. At that point much of the land will be developed to accommodate the growing population. The mountains are world class, you could trash the valley floor… Read more »

Wayne Deja
Wayne Deja
8 years ago

Mongo….You forgot about the two or three “medical marijuana” stores,complete with the so-called “doctors” and staff……and,of course,a few more taverns and bars,and maybe an all-night dance establishment…aptly named “the Owens Valley club”……You say in 50 to 150 years….glad I won’t be around to see it…

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise
8 years ago

Nah, if the Owens Valley had developed as a major agricultural region Bishop would look more like Wasco or Arvin than anything so upscale as you describe.

Big Rick OBrien
Big Rick OBrien
8 years ago

Definition of irony…

Trouble
Trouble
8 years ago

To tell you how our times have changed, they 17 year old got 30 days and the 20 year old got 90 days. Think what they would get now?????