January 4, 2021 10:19 AM   Subscribe

While out on a hike yesterday in the Angeles National Forest, I saw the abbreviation "LARFCP" stamped in the base of a concrete cistern. Nobody on the Internet seems to know what it stands for. Do you?

One person has seen it on the Little Gleason cistern. Another on Harvard Ridge. Yet another at Alder Saddle. Obviously the dates indicate construction/installation, but I can't figure out which corps of engineers or civic body is indicated by LARFCP, aside from "LA" being Los Angeles. Any insights?
posted by mykescipark to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This indicates it may stand for Regional Freight Consolidation Program.
posted by hepta at 10:31 AM on January 4, 2021

That acronym's also been used in LA for "Request for County Plan" and "Request for Concept Papers".
posted by metabaroque at 10:34 AM on January 4, 2021

Could be Los Angeles Recreational Forest County Park or some iteration of that.
posted by effluvia at 10:39 AM on January 4, 2021

Freight consolidation doesn't make sense in the wilderness. Nor does Request for Concept Papers etc.

I'm thinking RFC=Regional Fire Control, but that leaves the P unaccounted for. Maybe Los Angeles Regional Fire Control Program? The purpose seems to have been to collect rainwater over the area of the flat top, have it trickle through the drain into the cistern. Perhaps that was just for rain measurement purposes, rather than actual fire control. You could let water accumulate for a whole season in various locations and then get a reading of how wet or dry it had been.

(But, via search, LATimes has no mentions of this abbreviation or any mention of cisterns, regional fire control, etc. during the 1945-50 period.)
posted by beagle at 10:47 AM on January 4, 2021 [1 favorite]

Regional Fire Control P[lan/rogram?]

Did the one you see also include a date (1947 as at Little Gleason?) its possible it is the manufacturer or the program that paid to have it installed?
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:48 AM on January 4, 2021

Response by poster: Perhaps that was just for rain measurement purposes, rather than actual fire control.

That's an excellent notion, and it may serve a double purpose, but I will note that the cisterns are usually connected to pipelines running further down the hill to a metal junction box covering a spout/hose connection. I've been "collecting" the cisterns for sport lately, and the brightly-painted boxes are often the only indication that there's a cistern lurking in the shrub above.
posted by mykescipark at 11:37 AM on January 4, 2021

My instincts are that it might be related to flood control plans. This document mentions in passing the existence of "Los Angeles Flood Control Property" in the San Gabriels, but it seems to be a more modern thing than 1948.
posted by ApathyGirl at 12:01 PM on January 4, 2021

If you zoom in and move around the CalTopo map that is linked to by the post behind your Adler Saddle link, you'll see many black dots marked "water" throughout the ANF. This might assist your collection effort. Some of those water points are in the middle of nowhere (though usually on trails); others seem to be near campgrounds and may have been built to supply those. See for example many of them shown near the camps around Three Points.
posted by beagle at 12:41 PM on January 4, 2021

Wild guess: LA Rain Fall Collection Program
posted by a humble nudibranch at 12:48 PM on January 4, 2021

Los Angeles County Flood Control District (LACFCD) is maddeningly close! I think it's very likely to be Flood Control
posted by SaltySalticid at 12:54 PM on January 4, 2021

Ok, have almost posted this 3 times before realizing these are all in different orders and why I was getting confused...but in this book/file, it mentions the RFPC (Rural Fire Prevention & Control) and the RCFP (Rural Community Fire Protection program) and then goes onto the reference the RFCP, but doesn't define it. From context, they're still referencing the Rural Fire Prevention & Control w this acronym. Both are interagency programs used by the US Forest Service.

I found a few other book references to the same programs (here is one - also refers RFCP as Rural Fire Prevention & Control ) but nothing concrete. (Sorry!)

So no real answer, but perhaps a clue?
posted by moogs at 12:58 PM on January 4, 2021

Response by poster: I got an email from a mysterious stranger who's not a MeFite, and they said:

I saw your question on Metafilter. I'm not a member, but I'm pretty sure the answer is Los Angeles River Flood Control Project. Google that and you'll find stuff from the period.

Searching for that exact phrase turned up a handful of results which indicate that's probably it, including references to the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Angeles Forest, and a few contemporaneous-ish newspaper reports.
posted by mykescipark at 8:05 PM on January 4, 2021 [7 favorites]

Best answer: Interesting! I suspect Los Angeles River Flood Control Project is right, but the question remains, what was the function of those cisterns in controlling floods? The project seems to have included widening or channelizing the river, seeding hillsides after wildfires to prevent runoff. The river's watershed includes most of the ANP.

I think this underscores the idea that the cisterns were not for collecting fire suppression water (wouldn't do much for that), but for measuring rainfall — particularly to improve the understanding of what constitutes 100-year floods to be expected on the river, and perhaps to provide early warning. If, as you say, they are still connected to drainlines that terminate in painted boxes with hose connections, this monitoring may still be going on. An inquiry to the Forest headquarters might shed further light on this.

If you have access, this 1969 story about the completion of the project mentions that the Corps of Engineers and the LA County Flood Control District share operations of the project including "monitoring rainfall and water flow at all installations and holding, releasing, or diverting water when necessary." Some mention of that monitoring is here.

This map shows the location of the district's rainfall gauges, including the one at Little Gleason. Zoom in and more locations will pop up. If you click on any of the blue dots, up comes a popup showing season total rainfall at that location.
posted by beagle at 10:35 AM on January 6, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I love this place.

Also, yes, I have a call in to the USFS, but as all the regional offices are operating at severely reduced capacity due to (a) high fire watch still ongoing and (b) COVID staff reductions and office closures, I suspect now is not the right time to ask.
posted by mykescipark at 11:17 AM on January 6, 2021

Sorry I neglected to link the 1969 story, but it was on
posted by beagle at 12:07 PM on January 6, 2021

Response by poster: So, here’s what the USFS had to say.

Thank you for contacting the Angeles National Forest. Sorry for the delay, after some research through various departments, we were able to come up with Los Angeles River Flood Control Project. That is about all we were able to locate. I hope this helps in your search for your answers.
posted by mykescipark at 9:17 AM on January 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

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