Whiskeytown Lake

Last night Foodie sent me a text with this photo – He was camping at Whiskeytown and was down by the creek, chilling. We\’re only about 11 miles from Whiskeytown lake and we\’re 17 miles from Lake Shasta. I\’ve mentioned these lakes several times on my blog so I thought I\’d give share some history on this one lake. Whiskeytown has always been my favorite of the 2 lakes. Even after the Carr Fire, it still has a beauty that no fire can destroy. 

Whiskeytown was once a real town. Now it\’s a lake. It was one of the first of Shasta County\’s gold mining settlements after 1849. Its original name was Whiskey Creek Diggings. 

There are two different stories for how the settlement got its name: The first states that a barrel of whiskey fell from a pack mule and into the creek that ran by Whiskeytown; the second attributes the name to the legend that miners at Whiskeytown could drink a barrel of the hard liquor a day. 

The area became known as a good place to mine for gold. There were reports miners averaged $50 in gold per day, and in 1851 a 56-ounce gold nugget was found. The first woman arrived in town in 1852, and by 1855, about 1,000 gold miners lived in Whiskeytown. The post office was opened in 1856, but the federal government didn\’t allow the Whiskeytown name to be attached to it because it was considered inappropriate. Finally, in 1952, the federal government agreed to name the post office after the town. 

Construction of the Whiskeytown Dam began in 1960, and the basin began to fill with water in 1962. Some Whiskeytown buildings were moved to higher ground, but others remain underwater. The dam was dedicated by President John F. Kennedy in September 1963. This was his last California visit before he was assassinated in Nov. 

The Carr Fire around Whiskeytown Lake. Taken in 2018, that was a horrible year for fires surrounding my area. 

We drive up to the lake sometimes, just to watch the sunset. Or to sit on one of the benches overlooking the lake – and then we come home. We\’ve held Father\’s Day BBQs many times up there and picnics. We\’ve hiked all around and camped and there is still more to see. There are beautiful waterfalls, and the creek is beautiful. The park has many California Brown and Black Bears and the first year we moved up here, we saw 2 cubs and their Mama – just a few yards from us. The only thing separating us was the creek. She kept an eye on us and we backed up, never taking our eyes off her and she decided we were harmless and continued on her way as her cubs toddled behind her. 

That was a TREAT I could never get in San Francisco or the bay area. That\’s when I fell in love with this area. It\’s been 13 years just May 22. 

11 thoughts on “Whiskeytown Lake

  1. Anonymous June 4, 2021 / 11:56 pm

    It really is beautiful and what a great history! Glad it's coming back after the fire – that is a sad photo. So cool to see the bears there.

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  2. Anonymous June 5, 2021 / 1:49 am

    Love to watch mommy and her cubs, a creek might not be enough of a buffer for me.

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  3. Anonymous June 5, 2021 / 1:42 pm

    That was interesting about Whiskeytown. And that forest fire picture! It looks like the whole world was on fire. Gosh, that's scary. I remember the year it burned here all summer. The Okefenokee Swamp (Waycross, Georgia) and surrounding areas caught on fire and we thought it would never end. We're about half an hour from there and our air was so smoky. We were repainting the exterior of our house then is how I remember it. Just terrible. Y'all be safe. Still praying for rain.Blessings. xx

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  4. Anonymous June 5, 2021 / 11:34 pm

    Nice photos of a place I have never heard of

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  5. Anonymous June 5, 2021 / 11:57 pm

    I've never heard of Whiskeytown Lake before. But I'm very familiar with Lake Shasta. Just went there a few years ago…..beautiful. I hope your area hasn't got any fires this Summer. We've had a couple so far, but they were small and put out quickly.~Sheri

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  6. Anonymous June 6, 2021 / 5:06 am

    Whiskeytown lake has been a favorite of ours. Last summer was the first time is a long time we didn't make a trip to spend the day swimming there. I remember the last time we were there was after the Carr fire and the lake had so many small pieces of branches on the lake floor where we were swimming. I also spent ever summer from the time I was a small child until about 14 camping and skiing at Hirtz Bay on Lake Shasta. Some of my favorite memories.

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  7. Anonymous June 7, 2021 / 8:48 pm

    When Lake Shasta is full, it's beautiful. When it's low like it is now, it's creepy. I've got some good memories on Lake Shasta and Trinity Lake. I learned to water ski on Trinity when I was around 10.

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  8. Anonymous June 7, 2021 / 8:49 pm

    We're going to have cooler temps this week and that is always a plus. We've also had a couple of fires but they were arson and fortunately snuffed out fast.

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  9. Anonymous June 7, 2021 / 8:51 pm

    I did stand on the picnic table. I don't know why. Maybe to appear bigger. You don't run though.

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  10. Anonymous June 7, 2021 / 8:52 pm

    I won't ever see it the way it was in my lifetime but it is coming back, and there are new wildflowers to see and new species of plants that didn't grow when there was too many trees. Life has a way…

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