Hot Springs vs. Honey Lake

Wendel Hot Springs, circa 1940.
A reader wanted to know about the naming of Honey Lake, since originally it was known as Hot Springs Basin/Valley. In the summer of 1850, when Peter Lassen and a group of prospectors traveled through there, they named the lake and the valley (Honey)for a sweet dew type substance found on the wild grains.
In 1943, the Oakland Tribune published an article about Fred Lake’s 1892 dream town of Honey Lake City. That prompted a question from several readers as to how Honey Lake received its name. John S. Thomas of Oakland wrote the newspaper and stated: “They call it Honey Lake on account of the honey dew that fall on the borders of the lake. In haying time, if you lay or stand a pitch fork out all night, the handle in the morning will be as sticky as if it had been rubbed with honey. However, W. E. Booth of Hayward questioned Thomas’ claim in a letter to the Tribune. They published his response: “Booth used to live in the Honey Lake Valley and worked on a dairy ranch. Booth insists that he never saw such phenomenon and never heard the story. It would seem that if such a phenomenon was the source of the name of the lake and region, it would have been a matter of common experience and knowledge. The phenomenon of which Mr. Thomas speaks may have been incidental, the sticky handle may have been caused something other than the dew.”


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