The Adventure Continues… Big Creek

I’ve never actually been to the Big Creek area, but whenever I hear the name I always think about my first real job, when I worked in a home-based office for one of my Sacramento State University professors. She did consulting work for companies like Southern California Edison, and my task was to type up the oral history interviews she and her partners conducted with folks who were about to be impacted in some way by various facets of the Big Creek project, places like Crane Valley, Bass Lake, Shaver Lake, and others. Many of these were indigenous people who had significant cultural history and intimate family memories involving the countryside soon to be covered by lake waters.

These particular memories were roused when I read the news that four dams up north on the Klamath River are one step closer to being demolished. In this mostly rural area, the local tribes have long relied on salmon — which have been nearly wiped out in recent decades, in part by the existence of dams blocking them from their natural spawning areas.

The dams of the Big Creek project aren’t going anywhere, and for all the history and culture they happened to submerge into oblivion, they gave birth to a whole new history and culture which lives on today. In this hour-long episode of California’s Gold, Huell explores this beautiful country in the central Sierra Nevada and gets to know a few of the people lucky enough to call it home.

Huell travels to the mountains above Fresno to tour “Big Creek”’ which was America’s first large-scale integrated hydroelectric project, begun in 1911. This massive engineering marvel consists of 23 generating units in nine powerhouses with a generating capacity of approximately 1,000 megawatts, and six major reservoirs with a storage capacity of more than 560,000 acre-feet. Not only do we get a behind the scenes tour, we’ll also meet and hear some great stories from a one of the first families that worked at this remote Edison outpost.

(Click on the linked image below to see the video.)

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