San Antonio de Bexar: A Guide and History Page: 45
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ALAMO MADRE DITCH.
afterwards) is on this wise : After leaving its source, at one of the most easterly
points of the head of the River, its meanderings follow a little to the east of the
line of the road known as River Avenue, passing between the west end of the
Government Post Reserve and the River, whence it goes on to a point a little to
the west of the Southern Pacific Depot, passing on through properties lying
between Avenue E and Austin street ; thence across the junction of Nacogdoches
street and Nolan street, across Crockett, Blum and East Commerce streets
(nearly all this course was formerly irrigable land), down Water street, over the
old Pajalache in an aqueduct; thence down Mill street, across it, turning to the
left to the River below. Its first notable branch (to go back again to its source
and going down) was one which was called the Valley Ditch, constructed from
plans of Mr. Freisleben; and which, from the time of its completion--about
1872-proved to be an utter failure, and but a sorry venture to the city, the
engineer having made errors in the grade. It was almost immediately aban-
doned. It issued from the Madre at a point at the extremity of Grand Avenue,
near the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot, taking a south-easterly direction down
Walnut street to a course left of the old Goliad road, over the south-eastern
limits, The next branch-that one which issued from a point near the end of
Fifth street (east), not far from the angle formed by Nolan and Nacogdoches
streets, is of some historical importance. It makes at once for the eastern walls
of the Alamo Mission, and may be seen close under the east end of the Alamo
Church, and is said to have supplied the beseiged with water in that terrible strug.
gle of 1836. From here it passes on through the Menger Hotel court-yard;
thence to supply, in old times, the inhabitants of East Villita, joining the mother
ditch once more near the intersection of Goliad and Water streets. This ditch
was known as the ditch of the Alamo proper, and itself had a branch abandoned
years ago, reaching around the north and west ramparts of the Alamo Mission
square, passing along the west line of stores on our modern Alamo Plaza,
through the Opera House ground, joining the River there at the back on
Crockett street. Then another modern branch (about in the '60's) reached
backward from the mother ditch on Martinez street toward Garden street, cross-
ing the old Pajalache in one of those curious aqueducts spoken of in the Spanish
records as "canoa "-a canoe or hollowed log, of cypress generally-joining
the River immediately after crossing Garden street. The next branch was one
already mentioned in the description of the Pajalache-a compromise ditch to
the lands around Mission Concepcion.
The Mission of San Antonio de Valero, as shown by Giraud, was moved to
the east bank of the San Antonio River from the Post of San Jose, out West, in
1718, "on account of the scarcity of water ;" but the building up of the Mission
went on but slowly, and the foundation of the Church was not laid until 1744.
The date that this Mission supplied itself with water by means of the Acequia
Madre del Alamo is uncertain. That it is one of the earliest ditches is certain.
At any rate, it is placed here third in the order of chronology. One reason of
the scarcity of mention of this ditch, may be found in the fact that the partition
of the Alamo lands did not occur until 1793; so that it is not mentioned in deeds
as a property boundary line until then; but of course it was made many years
before that date.
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Corner, William. San Antonio de Bexar: A Guide and History, book, 1890; San Antonio, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth143549/m1/92/: accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries.