Relief Map Showing Water Sheds and Main Stream Systems [and] Sketch Map of California showing the different sections from which permission to use water has been applied…


Efforts to conserve California’s water from over a century ago.

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This rare pair of folding maps was published by the California State Printing Office in 1917 to accompany the annual report of the State Water Commission of California. The first sheet measures 19″ x 21″ and presents a shaded relief map of the entire state. Important bodies of water are labeled and watersheds are outlined, though hard to distinguish amid county borders and the network of railroads. Numerous Pacific Islands like Catalina, San Clemente, and Santa Cruzare included; though their remote location and limited population likely had minimal impact on the operations of the commission.

The second map is a bit smaller, at 17.5″ x 21″ and shows a simple black and white overview of California. Dozens of small orange symbols represent the myriad of requests from agricultural, power, mining, and municipal interests for water rights submitted to the State Water Commission, which was officially in operation for less than two years [text, upper right on Plate No. 1]. According to the State of California,

“Up to the early 1900s, appropriators – most of them miners and non-riparian farmers – had simply taken control of and used what water they wanted. Sometimes notice was filed with the county recorder, but no formal permission was required from any administrative or judicial body.

The Water Commission Act of 1913 established today’s permit process and created the agency that evolved into the State Water Board. That agency was given the authority to administer permits and licenses for California’s surface water.”

Source: California Water Boards

Map Details

Publication Date: 1917

Author: State Water Commission of California

Sheet Width (in): See Description

Sheet Height (in): See Description

Condition: A-

Condition Description: Two folding maps affixed to original blue paper wraps. Covers are lightly soiled and the maps show moderate creasing and a bit of extraneous wrinkling, but overall in very good condition.


1 in stock