What would Eagle Lake be like if it were not for Norma? It is something that crossed my mind as I scan the Gallatin photograph collection. Norma Virginia Harvey was born in 1910 at San Francisco, the only grandchild of Malvena Gallatin. It was because of Norma, that Malvena built the first summer home at Eagle Lake in 1913, which she dubbed the Cedar Lodge, but is better known as Gallatin House. For the remainder of that decade the extended Gallatin clan were frequent visitors at Eagle Lake. At that the time the house was constructed Eagle Lake kept rising to historic high levels and this troubled Malvena. After all, a portion of her timberland along the lakeshore was flooded. In 1914, she invited a civil engineer by the name of Leon Bly to Eagle Lake to see about reviving the failed attempts to tap Eagle Lake for irrigation, that at the same time would regulate the level of the lake. Bly’s tunnel and a twenty year drought would greatly reduce the water level of the lake. By the 1920s, the Gallatin’s visits were few and far between. In the 1930s, Malvena attempted to sale her Eagle Lake property to a developer, but it failed due to the low water level of the lake. In 1944, Norma passed away, and that Christmas Malvena returned to Cedar Lodge for the last time. In 1946, Malvena sold all of her Eagle Lake holdings except for her summer home that eventually would be given to Norma’s son. Thus, Norma’s birth led to an interesting chain of events at Eagle Lake.
They are now available and here are your options (1) You can order online from this site.* (2) You can purchase them in Susanville at Margie’s Book Nook. If you do this method let me know, your calendar order will be set aside to pick up when it is convenient for you (3) You can have your calendar(s)sent to you with an invoice or (4) if you happen to be Martin Balding you know the routine.
*I know it shows the 2017 calendar. I am hoping to have a new computer shortly, since my old browser will not allow me to edit pages. Thanks for your patience.
In 1933, the Baxter Creek and Tule Irrigation Districts sought funding from the Civil Works Administration to lower intake at the Bly Tunnel at Eagle Lake. There was a problem since Malvena Gallatin and Jim Fritter had filed an injunction to prevent lowering the lake from the irrigation districts. At a CWA hearing J.A. Pardee who represented the districts in his argument stated “It is a most worthy project and complies in every way with the terms of the CWA, but there is an injunction in force against lowering Eagle Lake. We are not asking to lower the lake,” said Pardee, We only want to lower the intake.”
After a long pause the CWA director threw up his hands and said “You win,” smiling he continued, “You get what you came after.” The bottom line, the districts use of lowering the intake, did not necessarily relate to lowering the lake. With that the government gave the districts $25,000 worth of labor and materials for lowering the intake.
In the spring of 1922, with the anticipation of the completion of the Bly Tunnel brought Belfast to the forefront. Captain C.A. Merrill one of the original instigators of the tapping of Eagle Lake spent twenty-five years on the project that in hopes one day it would be transformed into a major agricultural center. Charles Emerson and D.G. Beale plan to resurrect Merrill’s dream by acquiring 4,360 acres at Belfast from the B.F. Porter Estate. It was their intention to form a “colony” and sell 40-acre tracts. The two men formed the Belfast Land Company to orchestrate their goal. The major obstacle, of course, was financing. The Porter Estate wanted $100,000 for the property and the Belfast Land Company could not arrange financial backing.
The intrepid traveler of yore faced many daunting obstacles whether on an emigrant trail or the road less traveled, due to the terrain. Some times those routes were improved and some times they were abandoned. A prime example was Eagle Lake’s Heartfailure Grade between Spaulding Tract and Bucks Bay. It originally had a grade of 18%, but in 1976, the road was redesigned and the grade was reduced to 7 %.
This spring I wrote about the pamphlet entitled Lucky Land of Lassen that was produced and distributed at the Panama Pacific International Exposition that was held in San Francisco during 1915. In July, I published the first of two installments concerning Eagle Lake. The first account focused on the lava beds and ice caves.
“For years it has been a favorite camping place for the people of this county, and in this respect its attractions are many. It is an ideal place for camping, boating and fishing. During the summer months there is little or no rain to annoy the camper and the nights are cool during even the hottest weather. Its dry, pure air is mixed with the breath of fragrant pine, and gives to the tired mortal a new lease on life. At the southeast corner of the lake is a long stretch of swimming beach and there is another one at Spalding, a new town recently laid out on the west side of Eagle Lake, just south of where Pine Creek flows into it. Both this stream and the lake are full of black bass, cat fish, white fish and salmon trout of a kind unlike any other on the coast. It goes without saying, that on a deep lake like this, surrounded by timber and steep bluffs the boating is fine during the summer months.”
Unlike many rural outposts there is usually some sort of a nucleus of buildings. There is always an exception to the rule, and Merrillville is one of them. In the early 1870s,the residents of Willow Creek Valley desired mail service. It was Willow Creek blacksmith, Orman Folsom who led the movement. On April 1, 1875 the Merrillville Post Office was established at the Folsom Ranch, (Willow Creek Wildlife Unit), with Orman Folsom as postmaster. Folsom named the post office after Captain Charles A. Merrill who had recently arrived on the scene to tap Eagle Lake for reclamation. Folsom and his successors never had any intent to establish a town. The post office location changed over the years and when it was discontinued, on November 30, 1928, it was located at the Stone Ranch, Eagle Lake.