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Catherine Mulholland Passes Away; Grand Daughter of William Mulholland and Noted Historian and Author of San Fernando Valley

Today brings sad news that Catherine Mulholland has passed away of natural causes at her home in Camarillo at the age of 88. She is most known for being the granddaughter of William Mulholland who designed the Los Angeles Aqueduct which paved the way for exponential growth of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley by bringing water to what was then unreachable locations. William had developed a bad reputation after the St Francis Dam had collapsed killing more than 400 people. Additionally, William gained more controversy when conspiracy theories surfaced that Mulholland actually designed the Aqueduct to steal water from the Owens Valley and profit from the land with other investors which is supposedly the inspiration of the film, Chinatown, starring Jack Nicholson. This is where Catherine comes in to provide the truth  behind her grandfather and that the St. Francis Dam tragedy was unavoidable with the engineering knowledge at that time and William did not make any profit off of the Aqueduct. To refute those allegations and also discuss San Fernando Valley History, Catherine wrote Calabasas Girls (1976), The Owensmouth Baby: The Making of a San Fernando Valley (1987), and William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles (2002). 

The Los Angeles Times has an excellent obituary on Catherine Mulholland
After the divorce, Mulholland moved back to Southern California and discovered that the "quaint little western villages" that had made up the San Fernando Valley of her childhood had been paved over and "uglified." A Kmart occupied the land where her home had stood. The loss of personal landmarks — ironically, because of development made possible by her grandfather's importation of water from the north — impelled Mulholland to become a historian.
I believe this Kmart was the old Kmart at Corbin and Plummer behind the Northridge Mall which is ironically torn down again at the moment to make way for another new development. 

Sadly, the San Fernando Valley has lost a great contributor to its history.

You can read more about William and Catherine Mulholland below:
The Disaster That Broke Mulholland by Kevin Roderick (author of the book San Fernando Valley)
Meeting a Heroine by Blogging Los Angeles
William Mulholland by Irish Cultural Society of the Garden City Area

Also, here is a video of Catherine speaking at UC Santa Barabara in 2008. She was going strong at 85! The video is about 30 minutes with the rest for Q&A.

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Marty Mcfly

Anything and everything about the San Fernando Valley. This blog will take you back in time when the valley was covered with dirt and orange groves to a leader in the space race to its current status as America's suburb. Come along and join me on this adventure, I guarantee you have been influenced/impacted by the San Fernando Valley in one form or another even if you have never visited or heard of the SFV.

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