Lake Almanor, originally known as Big Meadows, was first used by the Northern Maidu tribe of Native Americans. Various explorers, surveyors and settlers migrated to the area beginning in 1820, eventually bringing a surge in population. Dr. William Pratt established the Prattville Hotel in 1867, and by 1874 the village around Pratt's hotel was known as Prattville.
With Hydro-Electric power on the rise in the 1890's, Great Western Power Company decided to build the 180-foot tall Big Meadows Dam. In 1912, Great Western Power Company began buying up lots to block off space for the lake. The pioneer cemetery and the area known as Prattville were moved to its current location when the lake was filled. Work on the dam commenced in 1912 and was completed by 1914. The filled reservoir was christened Lake Almanor, after the dam projects coordinator Guy C. Earl’s three daughters: Alice, Martha, and Elinore. The Great Western Power Company raised the dam by 45 feet in 1925, which doubled the size of the lake. PG&E bought Great Western Power Company and raised the dam by an additional 16 feet in 1963, bringing the dam to its current height of 130 feet.
Mount Lassen became a national monument in 1907 and Lassen National Park was created in 1916. Though there was initial opposition to a national park at Lassen, a violent eruption of Lassen Peak on June 14, 1914 made it the continental United States' first active volcano. On May 22, 1915 the mountain erupted again, sending a mushroom-shaped cloud four miles into the sky.
After Lassen National Forest opened up lots on Lake Almanor's west shore for commercial and private development, Adelaide and Fred Smith established Plumas Pines Resort in 1932.
Glenn Geer purchased the resort in 1999 from the Sperbeck family and to this day maintains it as a family operation.
Lake Almanor Geography
Lake Almanor is tucked high in the Sierras of northeastern California at an elevation of 4,500 ft. The large man-made reservoir is formed by Canyon Dam on the southeastern side of the lake and consists of runoff from various creeks and natural springs in the area. Lake Almanor spans 13 miles in length and 6 miles in width, and its area is 43.75mi², making it one of the biggest lakes in California.
The Lake Almanor basin is made up of several areas, and Plumas Pines Resort is nestled on the West Shore near Prattville. Further down the shore lies Canyon Dam, where the dam holds back water that forms the lake itself. Across the lake is the Peninsula, where fireworks are launched on the Fourth of July and the LACC and Bailey Creek golf courses are operated. Hamilton Branch is a quiet community on the northeast side of the peninsula, and the town of Chester is part of the unaffiliated northwest shoreline.
The area celebrated the Lake Almanor centennial in 2014 for 100 years of rich history. Many families have been coming up almost that long and can span generations of vacations and residence at beautiful Lake Almanor. For those of you who haven’t experienced it yourself, what are you waiting for?