Friday, February 12, 2010

Bass Lake

This is our cabin at Bass Lake. It's been in our family for 70 years and it's one of the oldest cabins on the lake. The significance of this cabin cannot be undervalued. First it's my family history. My mother's maiden name is Jane Wishon and the Wishon name is well known in the Bass Lake history books. My Great Grandfather was A.G. Wishon who was vastly instrumental in making Bass Lake a hydroelectric PG&E lake. I am terrible at translating facts so I pulled up the story online and here it is for those who are interested....
The lake was called Crane Valley Reservoir for many years but the name was eventually changed when a small Bass Lake lumber operation polluted the lake, killing all the fish that were in it. The lumber company was ordered by the government to replace all the fish that were lost. The chosen fish was Bass, hence the new name - Bass Lake.

Bass Lake is now owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric Company and the waters of the lake are still used today to generate electricity, irrigate farmland in the Central Valley and for numerous recreational activities. The lake is considered a "warm water" lake with water temperatures reaching near 80 degrees during the summer months. (written by USFS)

Here's some info on my Great Grandfather A.G. Wishon.......
After bankruptcy, Los Angeles investors A.C. Balch and W.G. Kerckhoff acquired the company. They immediately hired A.G. Wishon as general manager. Thus, in 1902 the new company, San Joaquin Power Co. consisted of one powerhouse – San Joaquin #1, a small dam at Bass Lake, transmission lines to Fresno and Hanford, and a system of canals and flumes.

A.G. Wishon set to work expanding the demand for electricity in the Central Valley and developing further sources of electrical power. Key to this expansion was an agreement between Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and San Joaquin Power Co. In this agreement a boundary was defined to establish their electrical service areas thereby permitting the San Joaquin Power Co. to expand into all of Central California.

Over the next 20 years, the San Joaquin Power Co. (later becoming San Joaquin Light & Power) constructed four more power plants on Willow Creek above San Joaquin #1 was replaced by a more modern powerhouse, now named A.G. Wishon Powerhouse, and in 1920 the Kerckhoff reservoir and powerhouse were constructed. This later addition resulted in the first powerhouse and dam to use the waters of the San Joaquin River. In 1927 the Balch powerhouse on the North Fork of the Kings River was completed. All of these hydroelectric power plants are still in operation.

By 1930 the San Joaquin Power Co. had reorganized as the San Joaquin Light & Power Corp. (to obtain more capital) and had purchased or merged with several other power companies. This resulted in eleven power plants supplying energy to a service area stretching from Bakersfield to Merced and from the mountains to the ocean. At this point, irrigation systems and oil fields were electrified and electricity was available to virtually all communities in Central California.

A.G. Wishon had been joined earlier by his son A.E. Wishon and when W.G. Kerckhoff retired they together managed the San Joaquin Light & Power Corp. In 1936, a merger of San Joaquin Light & Power and Pacific Gas & Electric was completed, which significantly expanded the service territory of PG&E. A.E. Wishon served as a director and executive Vice President of PG&E until his untimely death in 1946.Today the legacy of these pioneers can be found in the powerhouses and reservoirs bearing their names and in the strength of Pacific Gas & Electric Corporation that has become one of the largest utilities in the United States. This enterprise all started in 1896 with the construction of Eastwood’s powerhouse, San Joaquin #1, between Auberry and North Fork.

I am so proud to be a part of this lake and my best memories in my life have happened here. I learned how to swim at Bass, I got engaged to be married at Bass, I've had numerous birthdays, holidays and summers there all my life, I've watched my children grow at Bass, I have mother-daughter weekends at Bass and I continue to cherish each and every moment I have there. My mother and her two brothers are the owners of the Bass Lake cabin equally. We all have to share our time there and it ends up that we go about 3 times a year or so. Last year we went for the fourth of July and watched the fireworks over the lake. This year we will do the same. I pray this cabin stays in our family through my generation, it's been a concern as there are 9 cousins to divide it with. For now it's ours and it's my most cherished possession. If you go, please do yourself a favor and go to the Fork's and have the best burger EVER. I look forward to it all year.......


  1. How very interesting! What a tradition. How precious the memories

  2. Great post! Our family has been renting the Chantland Cabin in Willow Cove at Bass for 52 consecutive years. Bass Lake has been--and continues to be--a very important tradition for our family and others.

    My mother's favorite cabin is yours! Although, for some reason she refers to it as the "Fox Cabin." Thoughts...?