Hidden Treasures of San Mateo County: Pulgas Water Temple


Photo of Pulgas Water Temple by LeslieakfFifth in the series of hidden treasures and found right here in San Mateo County is the Pulgas Water Temple. While it is in San Mateo County, it was actually built by the City of San Francisco as a monument to the Hetch Hetchy Water Project that brought “a plentiful supply of high quality drinking water” from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the Bay Area.

Amazingly, it took 24 years to build “through the Great Depression at a cost of $102 million!” The opening was celebrated on October 28, 1934. The monument is an amazingly beautiful architectural design featuring “fluted columns and Corinthian capitals to reflect the architecture of ancient Greeks and Romans” with a frieze above the columns that reads “I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people.”

Where Can You Find It

The Temple is located about one-half mile south of the Canada Road trailhead. Truly this is a treasure you won’t want to miss. Take the kids, or your sweetheart, or go by yourself for some restorative time alone. The grounds are beautiful, and the temple itself will transport you to another place.

For more information you can go to the SFPUC website at where you will also find information about the nearby Open Space Attractions that make the temple a popular destination.

Find Out More

To read a bit more about the site and other interesting locations, check out Local Girl Makes History: Exploring Northern Californias Kitsch Monuments by Dana Frank.

To relive the creation of Hetch Hetchy, read Battle Over Hetch Hetchy: America's Most Controversial Dam And The Birth Of Modern Environmentalism by Robert W. Righter.

Photo Credit: Leslieakf


Author Bio:

Growing up nearby, Barbara and her friends liked to drive out to the water temple just to hang over the side and hear the roar of, and literally feel the power of, the rushing water.


I've lived in the bay area

I've lived in the bay area all my life and I still haven't visited this place! On my to-do list!

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