Outstanding in a field

Nearly every morning at dawn for the past 34 years I have walked our dogs on a route that takes us across the San Dieguito River and along a dirt track that parallels a swath of wild scrub brush that is home to rabbits, coyotes, rattlesnakes, and in the old days, scooting coveys of California quail.

Planted at intervals along this stretch of no man’s land are four concrete cylinders, or what’s left of them, the tallest remaining standing about 18 ft. high. Never gave them much thought, but they are rather curious relics having once belonged to a massive network of irrigation pipelines feeding thousands of acres of lima beans in our river valley, long before golf courses and housing developments.

These standpipes, as they are known, helped regulate the flow of water with gravity – not from the river as I had thought – but from a well two miles up valley. Some standpipes served as air vents while others were outfitted with a butterfly-like control valve operated by a wheel located in the opening at the top. I plan on sharing this information with the dogs in the morning.

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