Westwood’s Water Crisis

A view of the plant and millpond, 1946. Courtesy of Hank Martinez

1924 was one of the driest years on record in California. To have a better comprehension how dry it was, the highway between Susanville and Westwood remained opened all winter and it was not until the winter of 1929 when the highway implemented winter snow removal. In March 1924 when a few inches of snow fell in Westwood it was met with great excitement. By May with hardly any winter precipitation, problems no one thought would ever happen occurred. 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.”

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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