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AREA ACTIVITIES & RESTORATION
AREA ACTIVITIES & RESTORATION
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(Note: Above photos are not of Finnon Lake and are provided by weatherunderground.com)
Current weather at Finnon Lake - updates automatically every minute.
Shortly after this the American River Electric Company was bought by Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). PG&E owned the Finnon Dam and Reservoir until 1956 at which time they sold it to the State of California. California’s Wildlife Conservation Board had the Finnon Lake area rejuvenated and in cooperation with El Dorado County a concession business began. Fishing, boating and camping came into being.
Prior to 1997 the dam was considered, by the State, to be unsafe in the event of a substantial earthquake. As the State did not wish to expend the necessary funds to replace the dam they sold the property to the Mosquito Volunteer Fire Association (MVFA) for $1.00.
For several years the MVFA attempted to secure funding to have the dam replaced. Fortunately for the MVFA they met one Mark Egbert. Mr. Egbert is the District Manager for the El Dorado County and Georgetown Divide Resource Conservation Districts. His perseverance, commitment , and knowledge, helped the MVFA obtain a grant from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to replace the dam. More detailed information can be found on the page RCD PROJECT INFO.
Slide-show of early 2011 photos of the drained lake and lake bottom discoveries.
The land upon which Finnon Lake now lies was at one time a meadow area. Depending on what research resource is used the land was either owned by brothers, last name of Finnon who were Scottish immigrants, or one Christopher Finnan, an Irishman. The original property was used for farming/ranching and a saw mill was located there as well. Whether Finnon or Finnan the land was eventually sold to a famous pair of California brothers, and their company.
THE TOPO MAP COMES FROM THE HISTORICAL ARCHIVES OF THE US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY, DATED 1893. THE AREA WITH THE RED X IS THE FUTURE LOCATION OF FINNON LAKE. CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE.
Those brothers were Mortimer and Herbert Fleishhacker. Born to a paper box manufacturer in San Francisco in the latter half of the 19th century these two brothers would become financially and politically important. If you’re old enough you may recall, or may have visited, the world famous Fleishhacker pool in San Francisco. It was 1000 feet long, 150 feet wide and held 6 million gallons of sea water which was heated. Supposedly the largest pool ever built and visible from space. Life guards used row boats in their patrols.
In 1903 the Fleishhackers formed the American River Electric Company. As their company grew and additional sources of hydroelectric power were needed the two brothers' company purchased, in 1905, the property the Finnon/Finnan clan owned. Soon thereafter the construction of the earthen dam began.
The water the dam held back was used to “power start” the powerhouse generator which was located at the confluence of Rock Creek and the South Fork of the American River. Rock Creek was so named by Kit Carson as he explored the area in 1845. An earlier powerhouse was located at the same site in 1893, the Fleishhacker’s newer powerhouse went into operation in 1907 after completion of the dam and lake.
Water from the lake would flow into Jaybird Creek and into a penstock that would carry the water the nearly 1.75 miles to the powerhouse.
Postcard, taken from south side of river, circa ? unknown
Click the thumbnail for a 2013 view.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF FINNON LAKE (For restoration information click here.)
PLEASE! WHEN VISITING FINNON PLEASE BE SAFE WITH FIRE, MATCHES, BBQ’S, CIGARETTES, CAMPFIRES, or ANYTHING THAT CAN START or FUEL A FIRE. FIRE SAFETY IS 365 DAYS A YEAR!
It was January, 2012 when the new dam was completed and sanctioned by the State to be able to hold back water. It has only been holding back a small percentage of what it can. Presently it is at pond level rather than lake level, why? Most of the water present in Finnon is from run off due to winter storms from 2012. The county’s water agency stated they are ready to fulfill their obligation, but nothing has happened for over three and a half years, why? To contact Finnon Lake’s administrative group and ask them why they haven’t gotten Finnon filled you can contact them by: phone 530-409-5515; or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or postal mail to MVFA Chair, 9009 Orval Beckett Ct., Placerville, CA 95667.
Here’s hoping Finnon will not evaporate into history.
Below are the latest photos of the lake and campsites as of September, 2015. Slide show controls are below the photos. You may also click any photo to enlarge.
Local residents and visitors know the area is in its fourth year of drought. Of course this is a factor to the lake’s level. However, the El Dorado County Irrigation District, or EID for short, has let Finnon’s board of directors know they are ready to fulfill their legal obligation to fill Finnon. Yet it remains at about 1/7 of its capacity. Sadly it’s more of a pond than a lake. See some photos, further below, of Finnon’s glory days from the 1900’s (not all that long ago now is it!) EID has stated they have the water, so why isn’t Finnon Full?
Finnon Lake is close to so many activities……There are an additional array of activities which are nearby as well. The Eldorado National Forest (check out their camping areas as well); the Marshall gold discovery site / Sutter's Mill in Coloma; ATV trails in Georgetown; White water rafting on the South Fork of the American River; the Rubicon Trail for you Jeep fans; and the town of Placerville also known as "Old Hangtown." The oldest suspension bridge in California is nearby. The oldest, still operating, hardware store west of the Mississippi and oldest, still operating, newspaper west of the Mississippi are in Placerville as well. Come visit us and our neighbors, you'll enjoy the peace and quiet, as well as the activities. Click on the MAPS & ACTIVITIES page to see several additional things you may do while visiting the area. AND - if you enjoy stargazing on a dark evening bring your telescope, or binoculars. The night sky can be unbelievably clear and dark.
For additional history of the immediate area surrounding the lake click HERE.
Click on any photo to enlarge and scroll through this set. The far left begins the series with a 1946 aerial view. The lake should hopefully be back to a full level soon, but remember the area has been in a drought for four years.
Aerial photos courtesy USGS, all others courtesy www.eldoradorcd.org
FINNON PHOTOS THROUGH THE YEARS
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We are now in our sixth year and FinnonLake.com would like to say thank you to all the visitors to this website. To date we have had folks from 89 different countries view our information, photos and videos. Click HERE to view a list of the countries our visitors come from. Again, thanks to all for your visit. Please note that right clicking on an object to copy it has been disabled. If you want a copy of a photo, or information please contact the webmaster of this site.
PLEASE! WHEN VISITING FINNON PLEASE BE SAFE WITH FIRE, MATCHES, BBQ’S, CIGARETTES, CAMPFIRES, or ANYTHING THAT CAN START or FUEL A FIRE.
FIRE SAFETY IS 365 DAYS A YEAR!
The main purpose of this website has been to provide information on the Finnon Lake dam and lake restoration project. Finnonlake.com would like to say thanks to the El Dorado County and Georgetown Divide Resource Conservation Districts (RCD)and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) for all their efforts in making the dam restoration possible. As of summer, 2014, the restoration project has been deemed complete. The dam was replaced, fish habitats installed, fish restocked, a boat launch area installed, a boat wash station was completed, a new bridge over the dam’s spillway, new safety railing installed on the road over the dam, additional campsites created and a new concessionaire began business. The only thing left for us to report on is the actual water level of the lake itself. Presently it is at about 50 acre feet out of the potential 350 acre feet, yet fishing and the use of small boats can now be done. If things change we’ll post it here.
A 1997 aerial view of a full lake. Courtesy of the El Dorado County and Georgetown Divide Resource Conservation Districts