Tuolumne County Ditch System
the gold rush days, a network of meandering open ditches
has been used to deliver water throughout Tuolumne County.
More than 60 miles of these canals snake through the county, connecting Lyons Reservoir to water systems that serve communities from Twain Harte to Tuolumne, Bill Hill, Columbia, Sonora, Jamestown and Cedar Ridge.
The county's ditch systems was originally built in the early 1850s by developers who wanted to get water from the South Fork of the Stanislaus River to lower elevation mining operations.
Pacific Gas & Electric later entered the picture when it built Strawberry Reservoir (Pinecrest) and began diverting a portion of the river's flow for power generation.
PG & E owned the entire ditch system until 1893 when the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) ordered PG & E to pipe the entire network. Instead PG & E ceded 57 miles of ditches to Tuolumne County's water division, which was not bound to follow the PUC orders. PG & E still owns Lyons and Strawberry Reservoirs and the Main Canal. The Main Canal is the section of the ditch that passes through Cedar Ridge.
The map below is provided by Flash Player. If you, right click on the image a menu will appear, from the menu you can ZOOM, Print or Go Back.
Text and images excerpted from the The Miners Inch - Winter 2002 edition