Recently I’ve shared images of some of the seasonal pools scattered around Mississippi Bar. Most of those ponds are man-made, but exploring them reminded me of this episode of California’s Gold, which educated me about historic Tulare Lake — an enormous lake (about 760 square miles) that I never knew even existed! Although apparently destroyed by damming of three rivers, the lake still returns in wetter years, filled by snowmelt.
In this episode Huell also visits the Marshall Gold Discovery State Park in Coloma to learn about one of the forgotten characters of the California gold rush — a fascinating woman named Jenny Wimmer, whose descendents are on hand to celebrate the role she played in the discovery at this historic site.
As a bit of an extra bonus, the episode starts off with a quick look at the restoration of Grauman’s Egyptian Theater — an iconic spot in Hollywood that actually pre-dates Grauman’s Chinese Theater — and ends with a visit to the reconstructed Angel’s Flight funicular in Los Angeles. There’s plenty to see in this episode!
At one time Tulare Lake was the largest freshwater lake west of the Great Lakes. In the 1930s farmers choked off the four major rivers that fed the lake and it quickly dried up. Once the home to millions of birds and herds of tule elk and antelope, the lake bed is now covered in agriculture. But like all things great in California, the lake refuses to disappear completely.