Catherine Mulholland, granddaughter of William Mulholland, the controversial figure who brought Owens Valley water to Los Angeles, died at the age of 88 in her Camarillo home on Wednesday.
She was best known for her work William Mulholland and the Rise of Los Angeles, a biography of her grandfather. The noted author is also known to local historians for her works Calabasas Lives and Calabasas Girls: An Intimate History, a memoir of her early life in the area. Click here to watch CTV host John Loesing interview Mulholland.
"She was a dear friend, a joy to communicate and correspond with over the years," said Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge in a press release. "It’s a great honor to serve the people of Los Angeles, but it’s a thrill to meet the true legends of the City of Los Angeles. Catherine Mulholland was certainly one of those people."
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power also expresssed sadness at her passing.
"We are very saddened to learn of Catherine Mulholland's passing,'' LADWP General Manager Ron Nichols said. "Ms. Mulholland was well known to the LADWP family through her gracious participation in events that celebrated her legendary grandfather, William Mulholland, a revered figure here at the department. We are all going to miss her and the link she provided to our historic past."
Catherine Mulholland donated a collection of books and family memorabilia to Cal State Northridge in 2008.
She also wrote the Owensmouth Baby: The Making of a San Fernando Valley Town, and participated in many civic events sponsored by LaBonge, according to his press release, including at the William Mulholland Memorial Fountain adjacent to Griffith Park.
"I once introduced Catherine Mulholland to Peter Fonda at a Saint Patrick’s Day parade, and it was a thrill to see the mutual admiration shared by these two members of two great families," LaBonge said. "I also had the honor of introducing Catherine to Hugh Hefner at the Hollywood Historical Society, when he was honored for his million-dollar gift to help save Cahuenga Peak. She was an angel in the City of Angels; and now she’s with the angels."
William Mulholland, a self-educated Irishman and merchant marine, arrived in Los Angeles in 1877 when the population was around 9,000.
He took a job digging a well, and then went to Arizona to prospect for gold along the Colorado River. It was there that he got a job with the newly formed Los Angeles Water Co.
He would eventually rise to the head of the department and, in 1913, saw the completion of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which brought snowmelt from the eastern Sierra Nevada in the Owens Valley 233 miles south to Los Angeles.
When the water reached the San Fernando Valley on Nov. 5, he uttered the famous words: "There it is. Take it."
The City News Service contributed to this report.