Artesian Avenue

This street name provides a happy memory of an era in San Bernardino's history when water was not a problem - at least, not the lack of it! An underground basin of water extended from the low lands near the Santa Ana River, north to approximately Base Line Street.

According to Elliott, the San Bernardino Valley surpassed every other valley in Southern California in the abundance of water, in 1883. Artesian wells varied in depth from 60 to 410 feet, averaging 160 feet, and in from two to eight inches in diameter. They were confined at that time to an area not exceeding four square miles in and around San Bernardino, but it was estimated that they were delivering 25 cubic feet of water per second, or over 16 million gallons per day, every day.

Image of an Artesian Water Well
Artesian Water Well

F. T. Perris, civil engineer, prepared a paper for Elliott's History, in which he stated: "The Valley of San Bernardino has peculiar topographical features, a study of which makes apparent the fact that it was once a lake of considerable proportions. The natural gate, outlet or drainage of the valley in its southernmost portion, where the Santa Ana River passes between two hills of limestone, or rather what was once apparently one hill, since cut through. At this point the 'bedrock' is near the surface, forming the valley of San Bernardino into a complete and large catchment basin for the watershed of a very large area of country. There are, unquestionably, artesian channels of water passing underground from the mountains to the main drainage channel of the Santa Ana, conforming in general characteristics to the surface channels. These, composed of sand and gravel, probably underlie clay, and pass over cemented sand and gravel at a certain elevation around the margin of the valley, and furnish the 'head' to our wells.

" 'Artesian wells are bored rather for domestic use and small garden irrigation than for general agricultural purposes. The two-inch wells, therefore, prevail on account of their economy in cost. The larger sizes do not afford a discharge commensurate with their greatly increased cost. This fact has seemed somewhat puzzling. I think it is due, however, to lack of head, as the increase in the weight of the column of water in the pipe retards the flow. This has given rise to the belief that a two-inch well affords as much water as one of three or four inches in diameter' "1.

Image showing Artesian Avenue Farm
Artesian Avenue Farm

1Elliot, op. cit., p. 103.

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