Christopher Payne photographs terra-cotta fabrication at Gladding, McBean

Twelve years ago, a reservoir called Folsom Lake, about 30 miles northeast of Sacramento, dried up. On the drought-cracked bottom lay a clay pipe, submerged since 1955, when the reservoir was built. That pipe, like most that run below cities like Sacramento, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, was made by Gladding, McBean, a terra-cotta manufacturer that’s been around almost since California joined the Union.

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