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Letter from C. O. Whittemore (Los Angeles) to T. E. Gibbon (Los Angeles), August 22, 1906




Whittemore stating that the reservoir at the Las Vegas Springs should be covered and a pipeline run since the open water system was an epidemic and a lawsuit waiting to happen.

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Physical Identifier
Box 75 Folder 174-2 Vol. I Law Department UPRR Water Supply-Las Vegas

hln001047. Union Pacific Railroad Collection, 1828-1995. MS-00397. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.

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SAN PEDRO, LOS ANGELES & SALT LAKE RAILROAD COMPANY Office of T. E. GIBBON, Third Vice-President and General Counsel. Los Angeles, Cal., August 22, 1906. Mr. T. E. Gibbon, General Counsel, Los Angeles, Cal. My Dear Mr. Gibbon: trip to the springs and reservoir from which the town of Las Vegas is supplied with water, and from which the trains of the company are also supplied with water, and in view of the fact that there is a possibility of our becoming liable legally for damages, in the event that the conditions as they now exist are allowed to continue, thought it best to call the matter to your attention and report to you fully the conditions as I found them. Nothing has been done towards enclosing the springs or reservoir to prevent animals that range at large in that locality from wading into the stream flowing from the springs to the reservoir and also wading into the reservoir. I found near the stream flowing from the springs into the reservoir the carcass of a burro that was pulled out of the stream midway between the springs and reservoir about a month ago still lying near the banks of the stream, and in addition I noticed the carcasses of two other animals lying along the banks of the stream, that I am informed were taken therefrom within the last six months. In addition, I found that the banks of the stream and the banks around the reservoir and springs were covered with the droppings from cattle and other animals that are allowed free access to these places, and this filth, when it rains heavily as it has T. E. G.-2. been doing the past two or three days, is washed into the stream and deposits along the bottom and sides of the reservoir. The water in the reservoir is backed up for quite a distance on the flat marsh land surrounding the same, and this water standing stagnant as it does, and with animals trailing in and out of it continually, has become foul to such an extent that in stirring it up from the bottom a very strong stench is noticeable. of Las Vegas, make the practice of using the reservoir as a bathing place and I found evidences of this in the shape of old socks and underclothing that had been discarded and left there, either in the water or lying on the banks. I collected up several articles of this kind and sent them into Los Angeles in order to show just what existing conditions are in this respect. This is the condition of the source of the water supply for the Town of Las Vegas and for the passengers on our trains, and I am free to say that if the public authorities knew just what the conditions were, the officials of the railroad company who have charge of this water supply would be subject to indictment and prosecution, and if such action were taken they would probably have to plead guilty, as there would be absolutely no defense. In addition to this, if an epidemic of typhoid should break out in Las Vegas, which is more than probable this fall and during the hot weather there, and reputable physicians could be obtained to testify that the cause of such epidemic was the impure water supply, the Land & Water Company, if not the Railroad Company, would be liable in damages to the victims of the epidemic. The people of Las Vegas are very much wrought up over the situation and the indifference which has been shown by the railroad T. E. G.-3. company officials in allowing the water supply to become polluted as it is and in doing nothing toward remedying the condition, even after repeated demands have been made, and now threaten to take some action against the persons who are responsible for the existing state of affairs. that you may take such action as you may deem advisable to have the evils now existing remedied at the earliest possible time. Yours respectfully,