15-ton historic waterway moved from mission

ROBERT JABLON, Associated Press
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(Image: Mission San Gabriel)

(Image: Mission San Gabriel)

LOS ANGELES (AP) – A 15-ton piece of Southern California history has been moved to save it from destruction.

The 20-foot piece of brick waterway – built to run a grain mill near the San Gabriel Mission – was hauled Thursday across a street to a park where it will be displayed.

Archaeologist John Dietler says the 30,000-pound millrace is the largest of tens of thousands of artifacts found during a dig to uncover historic items on the route of a planned railroad trench near the old mission east of Los Angeles.

Considered high-tech for its time, the mill was built in 1823 by a Boston sailor named John Chapman. He was with a pirate crew that was raiding the coast when the Spanish captured him.

He was later freed and became a builder.

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