The Drought

Fire Antelope
Antelope Mountain Fire, 1926

As we enter our fourth year of drought, let us hope it does not last as long the 1917-1937 drought. The most severe was the winter of 1923-24. Susanville received less than five inches of precipitation this year. It was so dry that winter that in the middle of March, a one-inch snow fall at Susanville caused great excitement. There was even a greater commotion when eighteen inches of snow fell. It disappeared in a matter of hours. That was the extent of precipitation for the winter.

In May Westwood experienced the worst. Duck Lake, the main water source for Goodrich Creek, which was Westwood’s water supply went dry. On May 10, Fletcher wrote “The water supply for the Town is failing us quite rapidly and it is now a race to get water from Clint’s Camping Ground Spring [Clear Creek] before the Goodrich Ditch water fails us. We are running the Town on meal hours so every one can get water for their meals and then closing it off. To do this requires water taken from the millpond. We are sure up against a real dry season as indicated by the Buck Brush and Manzanita leaves curling up and turning black. Springs that have heretofore been dependable are failing.”[1]

 This was only the harbinger of things to come. California and Lassen County, too, would experience its worst fire season to date. Those fires will be presented in future posts.

1] As Walter Luff Jr., recalled during the 1924 drought they used the millpond water to bathe with and he stated the water tasted like turpentine. Relief came in the summer, when a pipeline was placed to bring water from Clear Creek to Westwood.

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