WESTPEX 2013 Show Theme
Introduction by Bill Dwyer
Hetch Hetchy is a glacial valley within the boundaries of Yosemite National Park in California. In the view of many who saw it before it was flooded, for use as a dam and reservoir, it was as visually spectacular as Yosemite itself. A hundred years ago the popular view of natural resources was that they were assets for mankind to exploit. Environmentalists like John Muir were rare and outside of the mainstream.
After the 1906 earthquake and fire that devastated much of the city, San Francisco became serious about securing a large steady supply of fresh water. They asked the Federal Government for the Tuolumne River water rights to Hetch Hetchy. Muir and the Sierra Club fought this for seven years. In 1913 Congress passed the Rake Act permitting the flooding of Hetch Hetchy. The O'Shaughnessy Dam was finished in 1923 and its reservoir provides both water and electricity to San Francisco and San Francisco's client localities and industries.
The Sierra Club continues to advocate the removal of the dam, as have both the City and Federal Government (but not all at the same time). A recent ballot initiative to study the removal of the dam and restoration of the valley failed.
The name Hetch Hetchy is a Miwok Indian term for an edible seed grass that flourished in the valley. Our souvenir sheet, commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the Hetch Hetchy water project, is a derivative of the 1934 2c Grand Canyon stamp with the central design adapted from an undated oil painting of the Hetch Hetchy Valley by Albert Bierstadt.
Websites about the history and events include http://www.hetchhetchy.org/ and http://www.intimeandplace.org/HetchHetchy/index.html.