Before the municipalization of the water supply in the Bay Area in 1930, water supply and largely water rights were controlled by the Spring Valley Water Company (SVWC).
The foundsf.org website describes the forces that drove SVWC’s expansion:
“The 1890s saw a rash of development of communities down the Peninsula for the land barons who had made their fortunes in gold, silver, land speculation, railroads, and business ventures, shady and otherwise. Mansions with gardens modeled on British estates and Loire Valley chateaux required prodigious amounts of water, pushing the Spring Valley Water Company to proceed to expand into the Alameda Creek watershed.”
One aspect of the operation on the Peninsula was access to the watershed lands, typically a restricted location (much as it is today), SVWC was willing to grant equestrian access to certain individuals. What follows is a sampling of documents from the SFPUC Archive that represent the exchanges that took place in pursuit of a nice ride in the otherwise secluded watershed lands. It was almost a private playground.