The Joseph Andrew Rowe Water Resources Archives

The Joseph Andrew Rowe Water Resources Archives began in 1999 with the donation of an exhaustive, lifetime collection of engineering and planning reports, technical journals, pamphlets, government documents, maps and aerial photos from Joseph Andrew Rowe, an engineer who specialized in water resources. The Archives have grown in the years since into a repository of important documents from throughout the state and now includes several important collections.

The Archives' cornerstone collection from Joseph Andrew Rowe began with Joe's father, William Penn Rowe, who also was an engineer. Penn, as the elder Rowe was called, began the collection began in 1916 adding historical documents that dated back to the 1870's. The Collection continued to grow until the mid 1980's. At the end of Joe Rowe's career, he donated the collection to the San Bernardino County Museum where it remained until he transferred the records to the Pfau Library to be managed by the WRI. This collection is primarily related to the Santa Ana River and its tributaries, but includes areas throughout the state of California, including the Central Valley, Mojave River areas, and Los Angeles. In honor of an endowed gift to the WRI archives from Joe's daughters, Mary Ann McVey and Patricia Rowe Watt, the WRI archives were named the Joseph Andrew Rowe Water Resources Archives in 2009.

The Archives contain several collections important to Southern California.

The William M. Claypool III collection is primarily related to the Colorado River, but includes many documents about the Mojave Desert and surrounding areas. William graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Pomona College in 1948. As the CEO of True Value Hardware in Needles, he created the first commercially successful recycling business in California and also expanded the department store and grocery established by his grandfather. The collection includes historic books, historic government documents such as the Whipple Survey of the transcontinental railroad route, John Wesley Powell's survey of the Colorado River, many documents related to the Bureau of Reclamation's operation of the Colorado River and the Bureau of Land Management's maintenance of lands adjacent to the river, newspaper and magazine articles, Metropolitan Water District newsletters and brochures, and historical photos of the river. Bill realized early that the significance of the lower Colorado River and wisely said "we need to understand the river's past in order to chart its future."

W.P. Rowe and Joseph Rowe

The WRI has also accepted a variety historically significant collections from a wide-ranging group of donors, including individuals and public agencies, elected officials, engineers, and businessmen including:

  • Alan Nestlinger, who began his collection as an engineer with the Orange County Flood Control District. It includes flood reports, records and histories, movies of floods in Orange County, photos, electronic images, paraphernalia related to flooding in Orange County, and PowerPoint presentations given to various groups throughout the years.

  • Albert A. Webb Associates, who began their collection as an engineering firm that has been involved in nearly every water project in Riverside and San Bernardino County since the late 1930's. It includes engineer's reports, well records, State Water Project Reports, maps, and drawings from the 1950's to the mid 1980's.

  • Bill Leonard, who began his collection while leading the Water Action Committee in City of San Bernardino during the early 1960's and played a vital role in the 1964 election concerning whether the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District joining Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. It includes ledger books from the Leonard Families businesses, including Insurance and a Department Store in San Bernardino. Also included is a Sanborn Fire Insurance Map collection dated from 1911 of the City of San Bernardino.

  • Bob Chesney, who began his collection as an engineer working on the construction of Davis Dam and serving on the Colorado River Salinity Commission for many years. It includes Colorado River salinity issues and state boundaries.

  • Bob Holcomb, who began his collection as an attorney and Mayor of the City of San Bernardino who was an advocate for local control over water supplies during the 1960's. It includes a variety of documents about this period of history in the Upper Santa Ana Watershed and also includes an Oral History.

  • Bookman-Edmonston, who began their collection as one of the foremost water resources engineering firms in the United States. It includes unique engineering reports, San Gabriel Watermaster Reports, California State Project reports, maps, drawings, and a wide variety of engineering reports from the Colorado River to the Sacramento Delta.

  • California State Water Quality Control Board, Santa Ana Region donated its collection from the 1970's. It consists solely of aerial photographs of the Ontario area.

  • Dan Powers, who began his collection as an engineer with Edison working in the hydroelectric industry. It includes hydroelectric industry journals over a period of nearly four decades.

  • Earth Technology Corporation, who began their collection as an environmental consulting company. This collection is all of their documents pertaining to the closing of Military Bases in Southern California, especially in regards to water resources at those facilities. It includes maps, aerial photos, technical reports, and other supporting documents from their research.

  • Ed Taylor, who began his collection as an attorney representing the City of Redlands in numerous lawsuits concerning the Santa Ana River. It contains a variety of legal documents.

  • Dr. Kent Schofield, who began his collection as a history Professor from CSUSB and was one of the founding members of the WRI. It includes textbooks, videos, books, personal papers, journals and maps.

  • Natural Resources Conservation Service donated their collection from the 1980's. It includes a set of aerial photographs of San Timoteo Canyon.

  • Ruben Ayala, who began his collection as a California State Senator serving as the Chair of the Senate Water and Agriculture Committee for many years. It includes papers from his time as Chair when the Peripheral Canal was proposed to the voters and defeated.

  • San Bernardino County Flood Control, Water Resources Division donated its collection of historical maps, photos, graphs, reports, drawings, and graphs. It includes materials from the San Bernardino Public Works that pre-dated the Flood Control District created in 1939.

  • Virginia Harshman, who began her collection as resident of Lytle Creek who wrote on the history of area in her book, The Story of Lytle Creek, a history of the area. Her husband, Walter Harshman, also worked for Fontana Union Water Company for many years. It includes historical documents and maps related to the Lytle Creek area, photos of the Fontana Union Water Company, and Virginia's book.

The Aerial Photo Collection is part of the Joseph Andrew Rowe Water Resources Archives, which is located on the 4th floor of the Pfau Library in PL 401. The aerial photos were taken for projects that Hydrologist Penn Rowe worked on beginning in the late 1920's through the 1960's. They covered a variety of engineering water projects including flood control, water supply and for legal cases pertaining to water rights.

The photos cover a wide area of Southern California with a focus on the vicinity of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, but also cover areas of Orange County, San Diego, Ventura, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.


Downtown San Bernardino, 1930

The Well Records are a part of the Joseph Andrew Rowe Water Resources Archives, which is located on the 4th floor of the Pfau Library in PL 401.

They cover San Bernardino County and are water depth records and water quality reports. The records date from the 1930's until the mid 1960's. San Bernardino County Flood Control collected these records and donated them to the Water Resources Institute.


The Gage Canal Well, Santa Ana River, 1880's