Friday, June 16, 2006

S2 & The Mile Marker Mystery Tour

Royal blue 55 gallon drum container marked "AGUA" that holds many factory sealed one gallon plastic containers filled with water from the Borrego Springs Water Company, Southern California. Photo Credit: Edmund Jenks

Is the photo above evidence that would suggest the potential existence of a California State sponsored “underground railroad”, facilitating the movement of illegal immigrants northward, on this road east of San Diego, California?

Read the whole story below and help me to find out.

On Friday, June 9th, 2006, I had occasion to attend a business seminar and new product introduction at the W Hotel in downtown San Diego. After spending a lovely evening in Old Town San Diego, it was decided the next morning to take the long way home back to Los Angeles.

We looked at a map after reading about the history of how Southern California built its communicative and travel infrastructure on the routes of the Great Southern Overland Stage Route of 1849 and the old Butterfield Overland Mail stages. So we set out east on Highway 8 before heading north, tracking along a line on the map that started at Ocotillo (a settlement about 2.5 miles due north of our border with Mexico), through the little town of Agua Caliente on San Diego County "S2".

S2, as shown on the map, is a road that goes mostly through Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in the south, and ends near Warner Springs at California State Highway 79 in the north.

Late morning, upon entering the Park, about 3 miles or so north from Ocotillo, we saw the Border Patrol and a few National Guard troops setting up an immigration check point along the road. We thought to ourselves, "Well, so this is evidence of the new program of joint deployment we had heard about recently in the news", and then turned our attention to the beautiful landscapes that the far southern parts of the California deserts have to offer.

Driving along another couple of miles or so, we crested a rise in the road and my wife exclaimed, "Did you see that?"

"See what?" I asked.

"Did you see that blue can ... or thing along side of the road? It said "Agua" on side of it!" Cookie exclaimed.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"It was more of a large drum, and it had stenciled along the side in white lettering "AGUA", you know, Spanish for water.” she said.

We drove on and noticed in the next minute and a half another blue drum, but this one had "AGUA" along the top with "WATER" stenciled in white just underneath along the side.

I asked, "What is going on?"

Another 90 seconds or so passed and another blue drum sat along the side of the road.

Questions arose and the mystery began to build. Where did these blue drums come from? Why are they here? Who put them here? Why are most of them identified only in Spanish?

"Hey, Cookie, let's stop and look at the next one we see, okay?” I asked. She responded, "I think that they are placed near the mile markers along the side of the road."

And sure enough, at mile marker 52, there was another large blue drum (photo above).

I stopped the car, got out and walked across the street over to the west side of S2, and in from the mile marker a few feet I arrived at the side of the blue drum, camera in hand.

The drum was topped off with a half-disk shaped wood top that appeared to have been designed to keep the sun from reaching the contents inside. As I peeked into the drum, the shade in the bottom of the drum covered 6 containers holding a gallon of water each.

I reached down into the drum and pulled out one of the gallon containers to inspect it. The container was factory sealed and labeled as being produced by the Borrego Springs Water Company, complete with UPC barcode, ready for retail sale.

More questions rushed forward in our minds. Who is paying for this? Who is keeping the "water stations" stocked and maintained? Isn't this State of California land? This is a road that runs through a State Park after all! How does one get permission to do something like this ... that is, if it isn't the State of California that is doing the duty? Is the National Guard responsible for these support services too?

We drove on and discovered that not only are these blue drum "AGUA" water stations at each mile marker, one appeared in a dry streambed that was an obvious migrant trail track also used for hiking and offroading.

We drove on from the South to the North and it appeared that the blue "AGUA" drums were placed at every mile marker from mile marker 55 to mile marker 40 near the Agua Caliente airport. Beyond mile marker 40 on northward, no more drums were sighted. We drove throughout the park that entire day without sighting anymore blue drums for park visitors or anyone else … other than in the most southerly 15 mile section along this road, as described. Curious that.

This situation is a real mystery. When almost 70% of the voting citizens want to put up a fence, and implement processes that deter border hopping immigration, why is the State of California subsidizing, underwriting, working against, turning a blind eye to, anything that will facilitate illegal immigrants to migrate across the border, hide and survive just to assimilate into our capitalistic landscape?

So now it is time for MAXINE ( to turn to the internet community and, hopefully, tap into the power of, as Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit and MSNBC would put it, "An Army of Davids"!

Are there any answers out there to the questions raised by this mile marker mystery tour?

Further, I have photos and digital video clips to support this whole story if any one would need them to help spread the story and/or make the point. I look forward to your responses. "On point".


Bob Souvorin said...

It would seem that the water drums are not facilitating immigration legal or illegal, but rather a basic humanitarian gesture in the event anyone finds themselves in a crises in the desert. It is highly unlikely that anyone makes the decision to illegally cross the border because of the drums, but surely you wouldn't imply that if they cross, they should die in the hot sands?

ecj said...


In a normal circumstance, I would agree with your assessment.

I have taken the road less traveled throughout the southwest, and I have NEVER seen such an overt display of direct assistance to travelers, park goers, or non-English speaking migrants in any of my travels.

In light of what has happened over the last couple of months in regards to border security and immigration, this situation begs to be looked into and have questions answered.

Gaussia said...

I would be surprised if this was officially sanctioned by the state, but if it is I would love to get the details on it. From what I can tell, these water stations we've been reading about around the southwest are all on some or other state's land, so I don't think that itself means too much.

ecj said...

Please read further to see if your "live-and-let-live" stance remains.

Update #1:

Update #2:

If you are a committed "Open Borders"/"Azlan" type of person, there is nothing I can do to have you see the issue.

But, if you do not care for Public money and effort committed to the efforts of people who are bent on not respecting our immigration laws or if you care about our security from terrorists activities ... and, through this un-approved activity on behalf of Public Officials, possibly breaking the trust and interests of the people they supposedly serve, then the discoveries in the Updates may help you to understand some of the issues that surround the "S2 Mile Marker Mystery Tour".

Approximately 70% of voting American citizens would like a border fence be put in place and our current immigration, documentation, and hiring laws be enforced with vigor. The activities of two Governments and some private citizens are working against the wishes of these 70% of voting American citizens.

Anonymous said...

It has been two years since this was written, and you probably have your answer by now. If not, I will try and provide one.

The water barrels are not placed by any public agency. Rather, it is a private group headed by the brother of a local congressman that is responsible. I don't recall the exact name, but it's something like "Desert Guardian Angels", or "Border Angels", or something similar. They place and maintain the barrels in areas where there is frequent migrant traffic and no water. In areas where they can't be seen from the road they are marked with a giant flag. While no public agencies are complicit, they are loath to remove the barrels because of the negative publicity that would cause.

An interesting (to me) aspect of this program is the migrants know where these barrels are, and so does the Border Patrol. I have seen the BP camp out near a barrel, and simply wait for someone to walk right up to them. The migrants know this, too. That suggests that they will avoid the barrels, leaving their effectiveness to doubt. But there have been many reports of desparately thirsty migrants using the barrel water. In a desparate situation like that the water may save a life, even if the recipient is quickly apprehended.

Submitted anonymously, but otherwise known as "TD"

Shineqi said...

The organization is Water Station, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit humanitarian organization founded in 2000 by Dr. John Hunter. I am the current president of the group, which has no paid staff. We volunteers place the stations every March, service them every other weekend and remove them in October.

Both the El Centro and San Diego sectors of the Border Patrol are aware and supportive of our work, which is also licensed by the Bureau of Land Management and the superintendent of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. If you have questions, post them here and I will answer as soon as possible.