Running diagonally through Riverside, California, the 20 mile Gage Canal travels southwest from the Santa Ana River to its southern terminus at the California Citrus State Historic Park. The canal was built between the years 1885 and 1889 primarily through he efforts of a Canadian jeweler named Matthew Gage and is credited with Riverside’s agricultural boom of the 1890s due to the fact that it greatly expanded the area’s citrus groves.
the rights to 640 acres in the area under the Desert Land Act of 1877 so long
as he brought water to the parched land within three years. He and his construction contractors then built the first
11.9 miles and then later added 8.2 miles which extended the canal to its
current 20 mile length. It was
originally a wooden structure that spanned arroyos and tunneled under
hillsides. The wood has since been replaced
with more durable concrete.
its completion, citrus groves and other agricultural endeavors sprang up along
its length, bringing land owners, developers and workers to Riverside who
became some of the earliest settlers in the area. Many of those farms have since been replaced
by shopping centers and residential communities, but the importance of the
canal to the future development of Riverside cannot be denied.
sections of the canal have been covered and built over, a five mile section
that runs from Andulka Park to its end at Citrus State Park, and runs parallel
to Victoria Avenue, is still popular with joggers and bikers. This section is lined with dirt paths and
travels through area neighborhoods and the few remaining citrus groves within
the confines of Riverside.