Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Upper (Main) Castaic Lake Opens for Swimming, Boating.

Photos (35mm and 2-inch negatives) by George Keegan / The Signal.

Quiet Opening at Castaic.

Castaic's main reservoir opened her virgin waters to enthusiastic boaters at dawn on Monday.

"It's beautiful, and a wonderful thing for this area," said Wayne Gosselin of Granada Hills. Arriving at 6 a.m., he was the first member of the public to use the reservoir.

"Quite a recreational area here," Gosselin said, giving his seal of approval. "There are beautiful inlets where you can stop."

Gosselin purchased his 14-foot blue and white outward motorboat just so he could use the new lake. Gosselin came with his son Lonnie and their friend, Jim Brewer, to fish.

"Fishing will not open until July 1," Bob Weeks, county supervisor for inland waters, said. Although there were fewer than 25 boats, Weeks explained that the rush will come when the fishing opens.

"Right nwo there isn't much for the people to do besides just tour the lake," Sergeant Robert J. McNeil of the Harbor patrol said. "We expect a large crowd this Saturday, though."

Catfish, trout and bass were planted a few years ago, and "they multiply pretty fast," Weeks said. "You can see'um jumping if you take a look."

"It's great. We need a reservoir here. I'm tired of having to go all the way to the Colorado river," said Sheldon Fogg of Saugus

He also brought a new boat, a 15-foot Chrysler which he had only used once. "We're looking forward to the fishing here," he added.

"It's just lovely here," beamed Ms. Ann Nemback of San Fernando. "All the harbor patrol men are so courteous, clean cut, and very helpful," she added. "Be sure and tell even one that."

"We've been watching the reservoir develop all along," said Ms. Helen Borrelli of Valencia. We're very anxious to go fishing."

Ms. Horrelli and her husband Gene came to take a ride in their outboard.

Castaic's first boaters were pleased that the reservoir is close enough to come for just a day. "It only takes a half hour to get here, and we have the whole day for relaxation," one visitor said.

No one complained about the steep launching ramp. "I didn't have any problem," said Lonnie Gosselin. "However, if someone is careless, he could lose his car very easily." He explained the steep grade could cause an inexperienced driver to lose control.

The maximum boat length for the reservoir is 26 feet. The maximum speed is 12 miles per hour. "No skiing will be allowed yet," said lifeguard Rob Haller.

The development of Castaic Lake has just begun, acting park ranger Bob Weeks said. Eventually there will be camping, a marina, boat rentals and water skiing. The shoreline will eventually be 28 to 32 miles.

"Now it is about half that," Weeks noted. He pointed to a cluster of trees high on the bank across from the launching ramp. "That will be a campsite called 'Sharon's rest.'"

"Trees will be planted all over," Haller explained. The water will eventually reach a level 25 feet below the top of the dam, Haller added.

No one knows exactly when the water will reach the planned height. "It depends on how much water there is in the Feather River Water Project," Weeks explained.

The only eating facility now is a trailer on the lookout area.

The reservoir is surrounded by tall mountains and rolling hills. The clear blue waters lap against the hillsides and wind in and out of the canyons aid ravines.

Click to enlarge.

Residents of the Newhall-Saugus Area (Santa Clarita Valley) voted April 24, 1962, to connect to the State Water Project, necessitating the formation of the Upper Santa Clara Valley Water Agency to wholesale the water to the local water retailers. The entity was renamed Castaic Lake Water Agency in 1970 as plans were in the works to build a reservoir to hold the water in Castaic. Construction on the dam started in 1967 and was completed in April 1972. The Castaic Reservoir, colloquially known as Castaic Lake — not to be confused with the original, natural Castaic (aka Castac) Lake in Lebec — opened for recreational use in phases: the afterbay (lower lake) on May 22, followed by the upper (main) lake on June 26. (Note: A date of June 3 was previously recorded for the opening of Castaic Lake, but nothing actually happened on that date.)

Download original images here. Signal Photo Archive, Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society collection. Digital preservation of the Signal Photo Archive is generously supported by the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation.
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