BLOG Keli Gwyn Author Photo-LgKeli Gwyn here to whisk you back in time. Imagine this. It’s 1866. You own a hydraulic mining operation in California. It’s the middle of the summer. There’s been no rain since May. Rivers are running low. Streams and creeks are drying up. But you need water to operate your mine. What do you do? Read on to find out how two bright men of yesteryear, who lived where I do now, came up with a solution.

The easy-to-find placer (surface) gold had been mined in the early years of the Gold Rush, forcing miners to use different methods. In 1853, hydraulic mining came into play. Water cannons with streams of water shooting up to 500 could blast away entire hillsides. The gold-rich quartz veins were revealed, the ore crushed and the precious metal extracted.

BLOG Keli Hydraulic MiningMine owners were happy…provided they had water. In order to get that precious commodity, ditches (canals) were built to divert water from the sources to the mines. The ditches might be able to supply enough water for smaller operations, but the big hydraulic mines needed more than that. John Kirk, an engineer from Pennsylvania, had anticipated this need. A forward thinker, he bought the water rights to many Sierra lakes high above the Gold Country. He and his partner, surveyor Francis A. Bishop, envisioned a canal that would bring water from the mountains to the foothills below. Although their plan for the canal was well thought-out, they’d completed less than one mile when they ran out of funds in 1871.

Kirk and Bishop sold their water rights and property to the newly formed El Dorado Water and Deep Gravel Mining Company for $60,000. Incorporated in 1873, the Company assumed control of the project, following the plans laid by Kirk and Bishop.

The building of the El Dorado Canal was one of the most ambitious undertakings in the state of California up to that time. When it was completed, just in time for the U.S. Centennial celebration in July 1876, the canal was about thirty miles long. Four miles of that was wooden flumes resting on elevated rock walls.

BLOG Keli El Dorado Canal WorkersThe monumental task required a massive workforce. Over one thousand Chinese laborers came up from San Francisco, assisted by about a hundred Euro-Americans, mostly Italian. The canal cost the Company between $650,000 and $700,000, or about $25,000 per mile.

When I learned about the construction of the El Dorado Canal, I was impressed. Every time I turn on the tap to fill my glass with water, I’m benefitting from the work done one hundred forty years ago by engineers who had nothing more than slide rules and workmen wielding hammers, saws, shovels and pickaxes. Although the canal has been renovated and upgraded numerous times, the path the water travels today is much the same as it was then.

El Dorado Canal - FlumeI was so impressed by the men who designed and built the El Dorado Canal that I decided to honor them in my August 2016 release, Make-Believe Beau. The hero and heroine of my latest book, Flynt and Jessie, work for the El Dorado Water and Deep Gravel Mining Company. I took fictional license in staffing the engineering department. Flynt is the engineer. Jessie is his newly hired draftswoman, which creates a stir in the office. While the story focuses on their romance—both the feigned one and the real one—I worked in as much of the history of the El Dorado Canal as I could. I’m sneaky that way. 🙂


Question fBLOG KELI bookcoveror You:

Drinking water today has become far more sophisticated than it used to be. Here in the U.S., many people prefer bottled water to tap water. There are flavored waters, carbonated waters, energy waters and more. We can also add ice if we like. I’m a tap water gal myself, since we get clean, clear water from the Sierras delivered right to our home, and I add plenty of ice.

When it comes to drinking water, what is your favorite kind?


I’m so excited about Flynt and Jessie’s story that I’m offering not one, but two print copies as giveaway prizes. Leave a comment, and be sure to leave your contact info in case you win!


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  1. My favorite when I lived in California was Arrowhead bottled water. Here in Indiana it is Ice Mountain bottle water. I’ve tried sparkling and flavored water and it just isn’t water to me.

    I would love to win one of your books Keli. Thank you for the opportunity.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    • Cindy, there are so many brands of bottled water to choose from, aren’t there? A walk down that aisle of the supermarket can be enlightening. I’ve seen Arrowhead water in the stores in our area. What part of California did you live in?

      • I was born at March AFB in Riverside, CA (Southern CA). We were in Japan for 3 1/2 years and then my dad was stationed at Travis AFB near Fairfield, CA (Northern CA). When he retired from the Air Force we moved back to Riverside, and eventually moved to Anaheim (a mile away from Disneyland). I got married fifteen years ago and that is how I was transplanted to Indiana.

      • Cindy, how exciting to have lived in Japan. Were you old enough to remember the experience? If so, what did you like best about living there? Living a mile from Disneyland must have been interesting. Did you get to go there often?

        I’ve lived up and down the state. When I was in fourth grade, we lived in Lake Elsinore, which isn’t far from Riverside. When I was in my twenties, I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and drove through Fairfield on my way to visit my parents up in Redding. I remember seeing the exits for Mather AFB.

      • I was 6 when we moved to Japan and 10 when we came home. I do have memories and remember some of the language. I think my favorite things were probably the people. I also loved going up into the Tokyo Tower (like the Eiffel Tower).

      • Cindy, I understand about the people being the best aspect of living in another country. My husband and I felt the same way about the years we spent living in Germany early in our marriage. We still have dear German friends whom we met over twenty-five years ago. We visit them whenever we’re able to return to Germany.

  2. Oh wow, I can’t imagine the work that went into that! And to know it still stands today (or at least the same path). That is pretty cool. I love learning about wonders that were built way back when and are still around for our benefits today. Yay for water! 🙂 lattebooksAThotmailDOTcom

    • Susan, having seen portions of the canal that are visible from the highway and knowing all that went into building it makes me even more appreciative of the men who built it. And to think that they did it in just a couple of years by hand is mind-boggling. Our forefathers were really something, weren’t they?

    • Faith, we use Brita® filters for our drinking water. They’re supposed to remove the chlorine, not that there’s that much in the water where we live anyhow. My husband and I got in the habit of filtering our water when we lived in Germany back in the late 80s and early 90s. The water is so hard there that most Germans won’t drink it and buy bottled water. The Germans were into bottled water way before we were here for that reason.

  3. Good morning Keli, my California author friend!! This is a fascinating piece of history I had no idea about, probably most people don’t. It surprises me that hydrolic power was already invented in 1853! This is why I love reading historical fiction set in 1800-1900 because of all the inventions that changed our life in today’s world! Very fascinating post today, thanks for sharing.

    As for water, I don’t mind it from the tap as long as the water quality is good. Where we live, it’s not bad. When we lived in Illinois, we had hard water, so we owned a refrigerator that had a built in water dispenser with a filter. We had no choice really as you couldn’t drink the water! The house we bought also had a whole-house water softener that really helped for laundry, showers, dishes, and anything else we needed water for.
    Our pastor & his wife have a ionizer machine hooked up to their kitchen faucet that PH balances the water quality. Oftentimes, we bring our 5 gallon water jug to have them fill it, it’s so good!! Tastes like drinking out of a pure fresh cold spring creek up in the mountains 🙂 Lastly, I like my water room temperature. I don’t care for ice-cold as it hurts my teeth, and I don’t use ice. I’m an odd one out I know, lol!
    Thanks for the book giveaway, Keli! I have the first two and would love to add this one to the collection! Either way, winning or buying it, it’s on my to-purchase list when it comes out!

    teamob4 (at) gmail (dot) com

    • Trixi, like you, I find the number of items invented and advances made during the latter half of the 1800s impressive. The people of that day must have felt a bit like I do today when I watch the rapid changes in technology products.

      We dealt with hard water when we lived in Germany early in our marriage. The water was so hard there that even though we filtered it, we went through about a tea kettle a year. The inside bottoms would get so coated with mineral residue that we had no choice but to replace the tea kettles. When we came back to California, it was a joy to turn on the tap and drink great-tasting water that came straight from it.

      You would fit right in over in Europe, Trixi. They don’t put ice in their drinks and often drink their beverages room temperature. My husband still does. I missed the ice in drinks, though. I have some cute ice cube trays so I can have ice in my drinks. My favorite tray makes smiley-faced ice cubes. 🙂

  4. Great post! Thanks for telling us about all that was done back then and is still benefiting people today. It’s also great to know that about the background for your new story too. I’ve been really looking forward to “Make-Believe Beau” ever since having recently read your books “Family of Her Dreams” and “A Home of Her Own.” I even have “Her Motherhood Wish” on my to-buy list for next March. (I keep a list of new releases by must-buy authors a year or more out to have books to look forward to, but also so I don’t miss them.)

    As for our water, we live out in the country and have our own well, but the water is very, very hard and full of minerals of the non-tasty kind. After years of trying all kinds of different things, we finally gave into buying drinking water because it’s just easier. And tastier. My son likes his room temp, and while I prefer icy cold, I also do drink room temp water at times.

    • Eliza, I’m honored that you’ve read my first two Love Inspired Historicals, are looking forward to my August release and even have my March 2017 release on pre-order. Supportive readers like you make authors like me very happy. 🙂

      We had a well when I was in high school, complete with a pump house in the back yard. I can’t remember what the water tasted like, but it must have been OK since we drank it. Then again, I was a teen back in the Dark Ages before bottled water had become popular and readily available, so we probably just drank what we had and didn’t think about it.

  5. Interesting post!We have city water and having grown up in the country with well water——I prefer bottled water.

  6. I love my Brita filter! I told my hubby that when we got married he should know I’m a water snob haha and it has to be filtered and cold. He said he could live with that haha.

    • Cori, Brita filters do a great job, don’t they? My husband and I got hooked on our Brita pitcher when we lived in Germany and dealt with the hard water there.

  7. Welcome to Wildflower Junction, Kelli! I love the title of your new release ~ Make Believe Beau – probably more than most because I named my oldest son, Beau (NOT BO!!) I think it was the romantic in me. He seems okay with it, which is a good thing!

    We have bottled water at our house–the big 5 gallon kind.

    Loved the history in your post! It is amazing what was accomplished by sheer determination and grit and brains so long ago.

    • Thanks for the warm welcome, Kathryn. It’s always a pleasure to visit Wildflower Junction.

      I love your son’s name. I first heard it used as a name when I watched a movie with Beau Bridges and liked it immediately. I’m glad your Beau likes his name.

      I remember those big water bottles from when I was a kid and the doctor’s office had a water dispenser. I even remember the Culligan Man commercials. Yes. I’m that old. 🙂

  8. That is really interesting! I am not too picky with my water 🙂 when I was growing up, we had well water and it was purified by a reverse osmosis system for us to drink. Now I have city water and it is also filtered through our refrigerator. I do not like to taste chlorine in my water like in some towns. Water has always been my favorite drink! I like it cool or ice cold…not much can beat that!

    • Beth, water is a great drink, isn’t it? I’ve been enjoying plain water (with ice) more in recent years than I ever did back when I was addicted to soda. These days it’s pretty much limeade or water for me.

  9. I prefer tap water as long as I know what’s in it. I have a refrigerator filter and monitor the reports from the water company. Nothing better than a glass of ice cold water.

    Such fascinating history. I always loves these posts, learn something new. Thanks for the giveaway.

    • Sally, filtered tap water is such an easy, economical drink. I’m sure people back in the 1860s and 1870s when my stories are set had a real appreciation for it, especially those who had to cross Nevada to get to California.

  10. I drink the tap water at home but only if its run through the Pur filter as our water tastes terrible. I also like Powerade if that counts and a real splurge would be if a restaurant has Voss water.

    Make Believe Beau sounds like a wonderful book that I would enjoy reading. Thanks for the chance to win.

  11. We’ve got a well and very hard water. We installed a reverse osmosis filter so that our water doesn’t taste like minerals and occasionally smell like suffer. (Granted the suffer smell is kinda appropriate during the worst of the Texas summer heat. 😉 )

    • Glenda, I love your name. It’s so pretty.

      I’m not familiar with a reverses osmosis system. I’ll have to ask my husband about it. He’s a retired chemistry teacher, so I’m sure he’s up on such things.

  12. Hi Keli. I grew up in town so I was always used to what country folks call ‘city water’. When I married a farmer and moved to a farm in a neighboring community, we drank water from our cistern and we used this source for over 20 years. Finally, ‘city water’ came to us and we were thrilled! I think most of us take good drinking water for granted while many countries still lack it.
    I love historical fiction and you are one of the reasons I enjoy it so much. Thanks for a great post and giveaway!

    • Connie, I grew up taking good, clean water for granted. It wasn’t until I lived in Germany, where they have hard water, that I realized not everyone enjoys good drinking water. These days I realize what a blessing water is. Due to our drought here in California the past few years and the rationing restrictions we were under, I learned to value water even more.

  13. We usually drink tap water, or the fridge has a filter that gives us slightly cooler water, Keli 🙂 Bottled is convenient for when we are on the go though! Can’t wait to read your latest!

    • Fedora, a refrigerator that dispenses cold filtered water would be nice. We have a small economy model, so I make do with a carafe of cold water inside.

  14. Tap water with a lot of ice. I have a friend that brings me Propel when she visits me at work. The only other time I by bottled water is when I am on a road trip and I run out of ice tea.

    • Jane, I’m with you. Lots of nice is mighty nice. I got myself some really cool purple ice cube trays that make square ice cubes. I also have a tray for making smiley-faced cubes and another that makes hearts. The romance writer in me had to have that last one. 🙂

  15. Until we moved here to VA, we’ve always had well water. Now we buy Nestlé Pure Life purified water because city water tastes like Clorox!
    Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of your new book. ?

    • Ann, it’s interesting how much the taste of water can vary from one place to another, isn’t it? I like the taste of our water here, but an hour away in the town where our daughter went to college, the water has a much different taste that I don’t care for. Thanks to all the bottled waters these days, we have lots of options.

  16. I’m good with Tap water most of time… however, I prefer drinking water with a straw and I do enjoy VERY cold water for drinking.

    • Tami, our tap water tastes good, but we still run it through a Brita filter. We got in the habit years ago when we lived in Germany and had very hard water.

  17. Tap water with ice! Cold is my preference. Although I really like to add a drop of peppermint essential oil – cools me down so well in this heat.

  18. That canal was such an accomplishment! Thanks for making me aware of it. Delighted to see another book from you 🙂

    Nancy C

    • Nancy, I was so impressed when I learned about all that went into designing and building the canal. They completed it in two years without a single computer or power tool. Amazing!

    • Naomi, I’m all for reusable containers. I have two of those plastic cups with straws and lids that I use when I take water to Curves. One is clear, and the other is purple–my favorite color. At home I use my “Keli” glasses. I got them in Austria from a soda company with the name Keli. They gave my daughter a set of the glasses for free as a gift for me when she told them my name, and she surprised me with the glasses when we visited her last year during her time working as an English-language teaching assistant there. Talk about a gift that made my day.

  19. Being a California girl I found your post quite interesting. Your book sounds like a winner. I would love to read it.

    • Robyn, whereabouts in California are you? Do you know if any of your water comes from the Sierras? If so, it just might travel down the El Dorado Canal.

  20. I like my water from the tap too although, I see x it through a filter first. My city puts inots of chemicals in our water. It used to be very good tasting but with all the Federal regs, it has changed. The book sou D’s good and I would like to read it.

    • Connie, I think many of us have taken to using filters. Water quality varies from area to area. Ours is quite good, but I got in the habit of filtering water when we lived in Germany, so I’ve kept that up.

  21. Back in Oklahoma, we lived by Byrds Mill Springs, where water ran underground, all the way from Colorado. Coldest and best tasting tap water ever. The neighbors owned what used to be the public swimming pool, and they never said no, but was a fresh water pool, no chemicals, straight out of the Springs. . You could hear folks scream underwater because it was so cold!

    • Melody, having cool, clear water is a treat, isn’t it? I’m sure you miss that water from the Springs–but maybe not the cold when you went swimming. 🙂

  22. Tap water with ice is my go to. I do have a water pitcher in the fridge for good cold water but still use ice with it.

  23. Water is definitely taken for granted in US. I’m guilty of that too. I recently read a story about young girls in Africa having to walk for miles to get water and having to carry it on their heads. I think I would die of dehydration if I had to do that – definitely not that coordinated. Your story sounds great! I hope to win a copy!

    • Dawn, I know what you mean about taking water for granted. My husband is a docent with the US Forest Service. One of his benefits is use of a Forest Service cabin. We spent one night in it recently without running water. I didn’t realize how many times I turn on the tap each day until we were forced to use water we’d hauled indoors from a tank outside the cabin. I feel for those in the world who have to haul water every day just to survive.

  24. I would love to be able to turn on the tap and drink the water, but we live in the country. The water is hard and our well isn’t super deep, so who knows what kind of runoff from the fields gets in there. We buy bottled and have a Culligan dispenser in the kitchen for water used in cooking.

    Look forward to reading your book. Thanks for the interesting post.

    • Kathy, I’ve dealt with hard water, so I can see why you’ve opted to buy bottled water. It’s nice that we have so many options these days.

  25. We enjoy Mountain Valley water this direction. Thank you for your most interesting post and have a great day!

    melback at cebridge dot net

  26. We don’t have good tap water, so I drink RO water. It HAS to have ice in it. Occasionally I add a flavored tea bag to it for a hint of flavor, but that is it.
    This sounds like a great book.
    susanmsj at msn dot com

  27. Keli, I enjoyed the info about water getting to the gold mines back in the day.
    I live in Indiana & Ice Mountain is really refreshing, but; now the taste of coconut water is the craze. I don’t think the people in Detroit, Mich. care as long as it isn’t bad water like they experienced. Thanks, for the chance to win a copy of your books.

    • Lois, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. As you could no doubt tell, I’m fascinated by Gold Country history.

      I’ve seen coconut water in the store, but I’ll let others enjoy it. I’m not a fan of coconut-flavored anything.

  28. These photos are just amazing. I live near the Natural Tunnel, a huge mountain that men carved a train track into. These pictures remind me of that!

    • Dianna, like you, I’m in awe of all that was accomplished before we had calculators, computers and power tools. We have some impressive tunnels in the Sierras that were blasted by Chinese crews working on the Transcontinental Railroad. The crews worked year ’round, even when there were several feet of snow at the surface. Impressive!

  29. I love all the facts that you wrote about. thank you for the information. I would love to win one of the books. Thank you for a chance to win one. mommystuck1(at)optonline(dot)net

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