Charles Hatfield and the San Diego Floods - 1915-1916

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“In 1915 the San Diego city council, pressured by the San Diego Wide Awake Improvement Club, approached Hatfield to produce rain to fill the Morena Dam reservoir. Hatfield offered to produce rain for free, then charge $1,000 per inch ($393.7 per centimetre) for between forty to fifty inches (1.02 to 1.27 m) and free again over fifty inches (1.27 m). The council voted four to one for a $10,000 fee, payable when the reservoir was filled. Hatfield, with his brother, built a 20-foot (6 m) tower beside Lake Morena and was ready early in the New Year.

On January 5, 1916 heavy rain began - and grew gradually heavier day by day. Dry riverbeds filled to the point of flooding. Worsening floods destroyed bridges, marooned trains and cut phone cables - not to mention flooding homes and farms. Two dams, Sweetwater Dam and one at Lower Otay Lake, overflowed. Rain stopped January 20 but resumed two days later. On January 27 Lower Otay Dam broke, increasing the devastation and reportedly causing about 20 deaths (accounts vary on the exact number).” VIDEO: Charlie Hatfield - The Rainmaker

The indisputable fact is that Hatfield went into the hills nineteen times to bring on a rain, and nineteen times it rained when he promised. Last December a reward of $1000 was offered him, half as a joke, on condition that he make it rain eighteen inches in Southern California between December 15 and May 1. He has collected that reward. - Dawson Daily News 1905

For the benefit of other promoter who may wish to capitalize the rainfall, let us note that Mr. Charles Hatfield, a professional rainmaker of Altadena, Cal., received $1000 from the merchants of Los Angeles in return for a precipitation of 18.96 inches in three months. - Boston Evening Transcript 1905

Fearful of being lynched by angry farmers, Hatfield ‘got out of Dodge,’ as the saying goes, leaving town during the night. He never received his $10,000.
— Dan Walker, in his “Thirst for Independence: The San Diego Water Story,” published in 2004





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