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.
Before there was a completed tunnel at Eagle Lake, there was one company, the Eagle Lake Land & Irrigation Company who successfully tapped the lake and sent water flowing all the way to the Honey Lake Valley at Amedee. They did this a Hooker Hydraulic pump that had the capacity to move 60,000 gallons of water per minute. In summer of 1892, it was installed on the eastshore at Dodge’s Bay. While it was being installed, twenty-one miles of irrigation canal was constructed. On September 15, 1892, it was tested and water was sent flowing to Amedee—a reality. The company considered it a temporary measure—one to raise funds while they would embark on their own tunnel near the same location as the pumping plant. The company was so far in debt that in 1894 it was shut down. In 1903, the machinery from the plant was hauled to the Wilson sawmill near Susanville.
With the upcoming Labor Day Weekend soon upon us, and after its conclusion the amount of boaters on area lakes starts to wane with the forthcoming changing of the seasons. In the past I have wrote about Oscar Rankin’s boat The Pelican. Among the larger boats to ply the surface of Eagle Lake was one belonging to the Gallatin family. It was substantial in size and weighed some 3,500 pounds, with a gas engine for motor power and shipped by rail to Susanville in May 1914. It was then hauled to the north end of Eagle Lake for launching. Once placed in the lake, the boat made its journey to the south shore at Gallatin’s new summer home, where a boathouse was waiting its first occupant.
This year there will be a little deviation of calendars that I have produced in the past. First of all, there are two other local calendars now available for 2018, thus a crowded small market.
The calendar will be comprised of vintage Eagle Lake photographs from the 1910-30 era. It will be a very limited edition with an initial run of 25 calendars. More will be produced if demand warrants. Should you so desire to reserve a calendar, please let me know. A notice will appear when the calendars are ready, and they will be available on line for purchase, or locally at Margie’s Book Nook.