Tag Archives: lake murray

Out & About—Sutherland Dam & Reservoir

Out & About

Although meetup.com was launced in 2002, I didn’t discover it until 2007 when the Great Recession caused me to go on staycations and start exploring the nooks and crannies of San Diego County.

Right now I am a member of 27 Meetup groups. The most active ones are my favorite, like the Pacific Photographic Society and The San Diego Photography Collective.

If you think you know everything about your local neighborhoods, join a meetup.com group and you’ll find that there’s always someone who knows more than you.

Yesterday I headed 57 miles into the boondocks with some members of The San Diego Photography Collective meetup.com group to visit the Sutherland Dam and Reservoir. Coolest dam ever. Looks like this (click on panorama pictures to get a bigger picture in a new window/tab):

Sutherland Dam & Reservoir, Ramona CA

Sutherland Dam & Reservoir, Ramona CA

Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

If you take the easy way to Sutherland Dam & Reservoir using State Highways 78 or 67 to Sutherland Dam Road, you’ll go through Ramona, a well-known equestrian community. There you can see horseys out to pasture:

Horses out to pasture in Ramona CA

Although Sutherland Dam & Reservoir is owned by the City of San Diego, the Ramona Municipal Water District also has access to the water.

The dam and reservoir are named after John P. Sutherland, a Ramona pioneer, real estate developer, and rancher. According to local author Darrell Beck in his book, On Memory’s Back Trail, “A civil engineer named Post who was surveying the dam site and who was drenched in a rainstorm, stopped at Sutherland’s office to record some papers. Sutherland built a fire and gave Post some dry clothes while Post was waiting. As a result, the grateful surveyor said he would never forget this as Sutherland refused to take any pay for helping him. Thus, when the map was filed for record, Post had the title read, ‘Survey of Sutherland Dam Site,’ as a tribute to Sutherland’s kind deed.”

Construction began in 1927 but the dam wasn’t finished until 1954.

In actuality, the dam only took three years to build. Construction had been halted in 1928 due to lack of funds and a disagreement over water rights. Escondido wanted to claim water rights because the natural course of the water would be flowing west and out to the ocean, not south to Ramona and San Diego, the two cities which currently have water rights.

Money probably was the bigger issue, though, and in 1952 voters approved a $6.5 million bond for construction costs to finish the dam: $3 million for the dam, $1.75 for the tunnel, $250,000 for engineering and miscellaneous costs, and $1.5 million for right-of-way costs. I have no idea where the tunnel is; more research is in order.

The dam was about one-fourth complete when work stopped in 1928. When construction started again in 1952, work picked up where it left off. Concrete had been poured for 9 of the 17 arches and most of the wooden framing was still in place. According to a 1954 newspaper article, “The previously built buttresses were still covered with the old wooden frames. When the workers began removing these, thousands of bats flew out to the amazement of everyone.”

When the second phase of construction began in 1952, pipelines were added to the plans to direct the water flow through Ramona to San Vicente Reservoir in Lakeside and on to Lake Murray.

More than 3oo dignitaries and spectators attended the dedication ceremony and luncheon hosted by the San Diego Chamber of Commerce on June 5, 1954.

The curved arches are called semi-ecological arches. I could find nothing anywhere about semi-ecological (or ecological) arches, and yet here we have 17 of them between 18 buttresses. Sutherland Dam was the last of the multiple-arched dams built in the county.

Back side of a semi-ecological arch at Sutherland Dam
Back of a semi-ecological arch at Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

I did, however, find information about arch dams. According to Wikipedia, arch dams are designed so that the force of the water against them, the hydrostatic pressure, presses against the arch, compressing and strengthening the structure as it pushes into its foundation and abutments. Arch dams are great for narrow gorges and canyons with steep walls. They typically are thinner than other dam types, thus requiring much less construction material, making them economical and practical in remote areas. So maybe less construction material means a lesser impact on the ecology.

Ecology……

Ecological……

Semi-ecological………

I think we’re there!

Arch dams have a long history, with the first known arch dam being built by the Romans in France in the first century B.C. The latest was built in 2013 in China.

The Sutherland Dam is 161 feet high and 1,240 feet wide, including the spillway. Concrete at the base is ten feet thick, tapering to just forty inches at the top. A walkway across the top of the dam follows the contour of the semi-ecological arches, but it’s not accessible to the public. Ha!

Spillway, Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

Spillway, Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

The spillway keeps the water level below 145 feet (2,058 feet above sea level), a level that has only been reached twice, once in the late 1970s and again in the 1990s (haven’t found out the exact years…. yet). During the worst of the recent drought years, Sutherland Reservoir was so low that even after all the rain we have had during the past five months, the reservoir still is only at 7.3 percent of its 29,508 acre-feet capacity.

According to a former reservoir keeper at the dam, there are a few cracks in it but they are considered safe. I’m not sure I would rely on a former reservoir keeper because when I was there on April 15, 2017, there were more than “a few cracks.” And there were leaks everywhere. Big leaks, too. YUGE leaks, as Twitler might say.

Water leaking through the Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

Water leaking through the Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

Sutherland Dam is said to be one of the most earthquake-proof dams in Southern California. Judging from all the leaks I saw, if we have a major earthquake anywhere close to this dam, I think it’s going down.

Since the back of the dam is completely shaded, there is a significant growth of ferns, lichen, and poison ivy.

Ferns at Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

The Sutherland Dam & Reservoir is on the Santa Ysabel Creek in the Palomar Mountains in the Cleveland National Forest, and is part of the San Dieguito River Park which stretches from its headwaters at Santa Ysabel all the way to the Pacific Ocean, a distance of about 25 miles.

Recreational activities in the area including boating, fishing, and hunting. Turkey season is in full swing right now, and I met a couple of bow hunters out looking for turkeys. Turkey numbers are said to be very high, and authorities are begging for turkey hunters to help out.

Although the area was significantly impacted by the 2007 Witch Creek fire, Mother & Father Nature have returned with a vengeance.

Burned vegetation

Turkey vulture

Flowers at Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

Flowers at Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

Yucca flower spike

There are quite a few ruins throughout the area but I have not yet found any information about them.

Ruins at Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

Fireplace, Sutherland Dam, Ramona CA

The fireplace and chimney standing all alone, with no evidence of a house foundation or walls, really has my interested piqued.

There also are rumors that a garnet mine is out there somewhere, as well as an Iipay Indian village. Some thinking is that both are under water now.

Since you already saw horseys out to pasture on your way in, I can highly recommend taking the back way out. Keep following Sutherland Dam Road, which will follow Santa Ysabel Creek. It’s a crappy road but worth going slowly and looking at the scenery. In the following picture you can see a fire trail climbing the mountain somewhat horizontally, and oaks growing in either a creek bed fed by rains or possibly even a natural spring that feeds into Santa Ysabel Creek. This is Cleveland National Forest, a typical Southern California riparian habitat but not what you’re used to seeing when someone says forest.

Fire trail and oaks along a creek bed

You’ll get down to the intersection with Black Canyon Road where you can see the historic Black Canyon Road Bridge built in 1913. It was one of 18 three-hinged arch bridges built by Thomas & Post between 1909 and 1917. It uses the Thomas method of precast, reinforced concrete sections, which allows movement in two opposite directions using two hinges at the base and one at midspan, a design that compensated for thermal and seismic expansion and contraction.

Black Canyon Road bridge built in 1913

If you go right on Black Canyon Road, you’ll eventually reach part of the Mesa Grande Indian Reservation. You’ll have to turn right on Mesa Grande Road and go down to State Highway 79 to get anywhere.

Turning left on Black Canyon Road will take you back to Ramona and State Highway 78.

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!

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This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Lake Murray

“But Judge…. Everyone else was doing it, too!”

Out & About San Diego

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

About a mile from me is Lake Murry.

Lake Murray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I go there for a late afternoon walk; it’s a beautiful place.

Lake Murray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lake Murray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

It’s fun to watch the children and the wildlife.

Lake Murray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lake Murray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In the second picture, notice that the little girl’s eyes are closed as she’s reaching out to that whatever-it-is bird (avian101?)

Recently two new signs showed up at the Lake:

Lake Murray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lake Murray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

In California, parents are responsible for the actions of their juvenile children, but wouldn’t you like to see the Officer who arrests the parents of that little girl for feeding that whatever-it-is bird? Viral video here we come….

Besides, who can resist feeding these creatures of Mother and Father Nature?

Lake Murray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lake Murray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lake Murray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lake Murray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lake Murray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Lake Murray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

 Wonder what these two pigeons are saying about the new signs:

Lake Murray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I’m sure when I show the Judge this picture, s/he’ll let me off:

Lake Murray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Of course, if s/he’s a Judge who rules on the law, I’m sunk. I’ll be back after serving my jail time and paying my $20,000 fine.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I'm Zoey the Cool Cat, and I approve this post

Looking for real estate services in San Diego County?
I can highly recommend
James Frimmer, Realtor
Century 21 Award, DRE #01458572

If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!Real Estate Solutions

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

American Coot

They’re baaaaack!

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Out & About San Diego

 

I had a lot of old bread which I’ll take to Lake Murray to feed the ducks and geese. Today the American Coots were back in full force. Although there are some here year-round, the population dwindles by about 90% during the winter. They also seem to know when someone like me shows up with food. Either that or they recognize sacks, plastic bags, and such as being full of food.

They come from miles around, by land….

They come from miles around, by land....

 

….and by sea….

Coming in for a water landing

Coming in for a water landing


 

They watch me intently:

American Coot

 

American Coot

 

When I throw the food, it’s a free-for-all:

American Coot

 

Once the food is gone, they’re outta there. I’m of no use to them. Talk about eating and running!

American Coot

 

Those that take off from the water actually run along the top of the water before becoming airborne:

American Coot

 

Lastly, for all my friends with a foot fetish:

American Coot

 

I’m not saying that I have any friends with a foot fetish, but if I do, hey, whatever gets you off the ground, so to speak.

Lake Murray:

Lake Murray

 

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Next time I’m taking hamburger buns……………

Jay Lloyd, home inspector with All Pro Inspection Services in Cape Coral, FloridaThis post is dedicated to Jay Lloyd, a home inspector and owner of All Pro Home Inspection Service in Clayton, Ohio. I have known Jay for about five years through the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors and a real estate professional social networking site. I highly recommend Jay for anyone need home inspection services in the Cape Coral area.

Dedications are my way of trying to provide a little extra Google juice for people I have come to know and respect over the years.

Picture of the moment

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This time of year when the sun is shining, the temperature is in the high 70s and low 80s with no humidity, and the wildlife are doing what wildlife often do this time of year, I like to go over to Lake Murray about a mile from me and feed the ground squirrels, of which there are a few billion:

Ground squirrel den

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Ground squirrel

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Ground squirrels

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After finding where the greatest concentration of ground squirrels were, I set out to feed as many as possible:

Ground squirrel munching down at Lake Murray in La Mesa, California

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Ground squirrel munching down at Lake Murray in La Mesa, California

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Ground squirrel munching down at Lake Murray in La Mesa, California

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Ground squirrel munching down at Lake Murray in La Mesa, California

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The squirrels thought I was the greatest person on Earth…..

….well, except for one squirrel.

A little six-year-old boy with his mom came by and immediately this squirrel thought that little boy was the greatest person on Earth:

Ground squirrel munching down at Lake Murray in La Mesa, California

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Ground squirrel munching down at Lake Murray in La Mesa, California

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He with his biscuits certainly showed me up with my bread crumbs. Next time I’m taking hamburger buns…………..

Lake Murray:

Lake Murray

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Cotton-top duck

New duck species……….?

Jack Gilleland, home inspector in Clayton, OhioThis post is dedicated to Jack Gilleland, a home inspector and owner of Home Inspection and Investor Services in Clayton, Ohio. I have known Jack for about five years through the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. I highly recommend him for anyone need home inspection services in Clayton or the Dayton metro area. If you’re a returning veteran, call him for his veteran special.

Dedications are my way of trying to provide a little extra Google juice for people I have come to know and respect over the years.

Picture of the moment

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Some of us hope to leave a name in the world when we leave and move on. Some do it simply by leaving progeny. Those of us with no progeny have to find a different way to do it…..

….like maybe discovering a new species of animal or plant.

I think I did! I can’t find the following bird in any of the books in my wildlife library:

Cotton-top duck

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Cotton-top duck

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 Cotton-top duck

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I have named him a cotton-top duck. He was hanging out with the mallards, American coots, Canada geese, and what I think are snow geese, so who knows what he is? Until I get the DNA profile back from the Department of Homeland Security, I’ve placed him with the bufflehead duck since it’s the only duck I can find with a description “large puffy head.” So his scientific name is tentatively Bucephala cotton topus russelii.

Cotton-top was swimming around at Lake Murray where I often go to take a walk, feed the birds and squirrels, and take pictures:

Lake Murray

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He’s my duck, so don’t try to abscond with him. However, if you know what he really is, let me know. That way I can cancel the DNA profile with DHS……. they are expensive! lol

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Ring-billed gull at Lake Murray in La Mesa, California

The birds of Lake Murray in La Mesa, California

Chris FisherThis post is dedicated to Chris Fisher, a virtual assistant and owner of her own company, Virtual Assistant For You.net of Concord, California. I have known Chris for about three years through a real estate professional networking site. I highly recommend her for anyone needing a virtual assistant anywhere in the world, not just the San Francisco Bay Area. Be sure to visit her web site to see the many members of her zoo family.

Dedications are my way of trying to provide a little extra Google juice for people I have come to know and respect over the years.

Picture of the moment

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Less than a mile from where I live is Lake Murray, part of the gigantic Mission Trails Regional Park system.

Lake Murray

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It’s a large reservoir that offers boating, fishing, and, most importantly to me, bird watching. I’ll often walk, bike, or drive over there to feed the birds — American coots, Canada geese, swan geese, mallards, rock pigeons, California gulls, and cormorants. It’s a major stopping point for migrating birds; 149 different bird species have been sighted at the lake, including the endangered
tri-colored blackbird.

With all the rain we’ve had these last three days, I decided to stop by this afternoon to check on the lake. It was full, overfull, in fact. That meant that lots of birds were enjoying themselves, especially the American coots:

American coots at Lake Murray in La Mesa, California

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Some of the birds that I’m making an effort to identify when I’m out are the gulls and terns, more commonly simply known as seagulls. Today I found the following bird and recognized it as one that I didn’t know:

Ring-billed gull at Lake Murray in La Mesa, California

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My National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America (p. 198) seems to indicate that it is the second winter coloring of a ring-billed gull. Up until recently a “seagull” was a seagull, but I’m making a sincere effort to learn my local wildlife.