Lake Almanor Basin was once a prehistoric lake but drained due to natural events, creating what became known as Big Meadows. Indigenous peoples inhabited the region for at least 1500 years. Certain probes into the region took place in the 1800’s when explorers made their way along part of the Sacramento Valley. However, with all the interest in California’s gold rush taking place further south, the basin was largely ignored until the 1900’s.
Lake Almanor was created in 1914 as a hydroelectric facility by the Great Western Power Company. The name “Almanor” originated by combining the names of three sisters, Alice, Martha and Elinore, daughters of Guy C. Earl, Vice President.
The Great Western Power Company later became part of Pacific Gas and Electric company (P.G.& E.) who, along with the Forest Service, developed Lake Almanor into a beautiful recreation area. The lake rests at an elevation of 4,500 feet, and is approximately 90 feet deep at its deepest point (when the lake is full). The present dam was constructed in 1926-1927, stores 1,308,000 acre feet of water and covers 28,000 acres of land.
Today’s Lake Almanor is a sparkling, irregularly-shaped body of water set among high mountain ridges and peaks. At its widest, the lake is approximately 13 miles long and 6 miles wide making it one of the largest man-made lakes in California. In the shadow of Mt. Lassen, surrounded by mountains covered by pine and fir trees, Almanor is also a beautiful lake with an abundance of recreational opportunity. Some enthusiasts refer to Lake Almanor as “Tahoe without the crowds.”