In 1870, when gold was discovered at Hayden Hill, it was only a matter of time for some enterprising entrepreneurs to come up with plan to make money on this new gold rush. In this case it was John Watts, David Watson and Benjamin Neuhaus. On April 24, 1871, they incorporated as the Big Valley Toll Road Company. The road would begin at the Neuhaus’ ranch (Murrer) in Willow Creek Valley, then north along Eagle Lake, Grasshopper Valley to Hayden City, then to Hayden Hill with a terminus near Adin. These “dreamers” hoped to raise $40,000 in stock to finance their endeavor. While the concept on paper had merit, in reality it was doomed to failure, as it was already an established road. In 1875, the Lassen County Board of Supervisors declared the route as a public thoroughfare. Portions of the original route would eventually become part of State Highway 139.
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Between 1879 to 1956 there were officially twelve different exotic (non-native) species of fish planted in Eagle Lake. Yet, that figure could be higher since local anglers were known to have experimented with their own plantings.
Of all the varieties of species planted in the lake, only one truly flourished—the largemouth (black) bass. In 1901 the Lassen County Fish and Game Protective Association planted 147 bass in the lake that it had received from the California Fish & Game Commission. The following year additional bass were planted in the lake. To allow the bass to prosper the State Game Commission prohibited fishing of the bass for a period of four years. Continue reading Eagle Lake Bass→
It is only fitting to note that today’s marks the 100th anniversary when Leon Bly embarked on sounding Eagle Lake to determine the feasibility of an Eagle Lake irrigation project. Since the 1870s, there had been numerous failed attempts. No one knew the true depth of the lake, though many presumed it had depths ranging from 300 to 1,000 feet. Bly spent the summer sounding the lake in Oscar Rankin’s The Pelican and determined the lake’s deepest point at 105 feet, but felt the lake had potential as an adequate water supply for an irrigation project.
Of note, up until the 1980s, this boat was undergoing restoration at Janesville, but since it is not known what became of the project.
Exploring lava beds, which there is plenty around Northeastern California, there is no telling what a person might find. The Brockman Flat Lava Beds on the west side of Eagle Lake is no exception.
In the early 1950s the Chico State Biological field study set up operations at Spaulding Tract, Eagle Lake. It was in the summer of 1951, that several students explored the lava beds to the south of Spauldings and made their initial discovery of a ice/lava cave. Continue reading Eagle Lake Ice Caves→
Gallatin is one of the many intriguing figures in California history. This native New Yorker arrived in California in 1860, and the following year located at Sacramento. It was fortunate timing on his part to land a job in hardware store owned by Huntington & Hopkins. At the same time, Huntington and Hopkins would join forces with Crocker and Stanford, to become the “Big Four” and establish the Central Pacific Railroad. As a junior partner in the hardware business, became quite lucrative providing materials for the railroad. In 1877, he built the Gallatin House and in 1903 it became the California Governor’s Mansion.
The prosperous Gallatin began branching out into numerous endeavors including the sheep business. Gallatin needed summer range for the sheep, and discovered Eagle Lake. In a two year period in the late 1880s he purchased nearly 5,000 acres of Eagle Lake properties for $9,000. The bulk of the purchases were timberlands, with the exception of Hall’s Papoose Meadows and William Dow’s ranch near present day Spaulding Tract.
With the exception of Gallatin being Eagle Lake’s largest property owner, his influence otherwise was minor. In 1905, he passed away and his second wife, Malvena, had the lasting impact on Eagle Lake. After all she introduced Leon Bly to Eagle Lake.