Around the time California became a state, there were three Indian tribes living in the Cache Creek area – the Olposels, the Chenposels, and the Weelackels. In 1850, they numbered about 500 people. With the settlement of the county by white settlers, the Indian way of life changed and, now, only the remnants of burial mounds and sweat houses remain.
In 1854 the Hanson family settled at the head of what was then called Long Valley. They operated a saw and grist mill. The Kennedy Ranch was established in 1859 and the old ranch buildings still stand past where the pavement ends on New Long Valley Road. The Garner family located here in 1883 and they still tend to fields of oat hay and walnut trees further out Long Valley. The original post office sits on Garner property and recently served as an official weather-reporting station.
For almost 125 years, what we now call Spring Valley was the 3400 acre Dow Ranch. The ranch was sold and subdivided by T.A. McCristy to create the Spring Valley Lakes Subdivision in the mid-1960’s. The ranch buildings where Caryl and Naomi Dow lived and worked can be seen near the end of Spring Valley Road. A carved portrait of Caryl Dow hangs in the Community Center. Naomi was active in the community until her death at age 80 in 1990.
The Spring Valley area is about 12 miles long and from ½ to 2 miles wide. Elevation at the entrance of the valley is 1184 feet above sea level, and at the Garner ranch is 1334 feet elevation. Three creeks flow through the valley – Long Valley Creek, Wolf Creek, and the North Fork of Cache Creek. The white mountain on the east side of the valley is called Chalk Mountain and was mined for sulphur in the 1940’s. As you turn off Highway 20 onto New Long Valley Road, you may see a herd of Tule Elk or some Blacktail deer; and if you look close you may even see a Bald Eagle or two!
County Service Area #2 (CSA#2) was established in December, 1965, by the Lake County Board of Supervisors to provide for the operation and maintenance of the water system, roads, bridges in the subdivision, and the dam on Spring Valley Lake. They eventually took over ownership of the campground property and the Community Center. The California Department of Forestry originally provided fire protection for the area, but an active volunteer fire department quickly formed. Fire protection is now provided by Northshore Fire Department and Cal Fire.
One of the first homes in the subdivision was located at the end of Goldenrod. Don and Margaret Rodriquez moved here from Oakland when there were only three buildings in the subdivision. They chose that spot because of the beautiful view of Chalk Mountain. They lived here for 16 years and helped out in the sales office for T.A. McChristy. Since they had such a good view of the campground, they also kept an eye on things and did some maintenance there as well. We’ve been told that Mr. Rodriquez was an amateur “cloud seeder” and had his own way of bringing rain to the valley.
The first fire house was built on a lot on Goldenrod that was owned by the Rodriquez’ daughter, Evelyn. Old Long Valley neighbors Don Fiora and Don Jerome did much of the construction on that temporary fire house structure, and our first fire truck arrived in January, 1972.
Our Community Center has quite an interesting history–the original structure was a hay barn located on property in Lower Lake owned by Bob Duca, who was involved with real estate sales in the subdivision. Don Fiora and Don Jerome brought the pieces of the building to the area and reassembled it with help from some of the new residents. To give the residents a helping hand with the building, Mr. Duca set up an account at Keys Lumber with $1,000 so materials could be purchased to develop the building you see on Wolf Creek Road today. Over the years, many of your neighbors have worked on the building – Virgil Balsley and Sam Curfman have hammered many a nail and fixed many plumbing problems since moving here with their wives, Evelyn and Ruth. Also, there have been many cooks in the kitchen! Virgil and Evelyn knew how to run a restaurant so they were “drafted” early. With their guidance the community breakfast program was started. Jay Rasmussen was a master with an omelet – he could flip them without losing a drop! Don and Darlene Auradou whipped up magical concoctions for several years. The breakfast is being continued with a monthly staff of 20 resident volunteers. People come from Clearlake Oaks and Clearlake to enjoy their home cooking.
The Community Center has always been a gathering place to swap fishing or hunting stories, to enjoy a good meal with good company, and occasionally even dance to an “oldie” or learn a new step to a new beat. Residents can reserve the use of the building for private parties. When you visit the Center, take a walk and check out the patio squares inscribed with names and important dates of neighbors – old and new. The squares are a fund raiser used for improving the Community Center over the years. We hope some day to completely surround the building. Every event is put on by volunteers for the benefit of the residents and we welcome all newcomers. Come and join the fun!
No history of Spring Valley would be complete without some information about our lake. Original papers show it was 30 surface acres when completed in the 1960’s. Alice and Chuck Cabral built the A-frame house on Yucca Way in the late 1960’s. When their children were growing up, the lake was four feet deep at their deck. A large forest fire beyond the valley in the early 1970’s burned off much of the grass and plants, and the resulting silt eventually filled in most of the lake bed. At the A-frame today, the lake is only a small creek. Over the years, attempts to clean up and restore the lake were not successful. In 2008 plans were started to reclaim the lake. Mark Currier worked for years, processing the required paperwork of more than 15 government agencies, to get all the permits needed to reclaim the lake. There is so much sediment that once the work begins, it will take three to four years to remove it. Hopefully, the trucks will be moving by the Spring of 2015.
The Spring Valley Lakes Property Owners Association was incorporated on July 3, 1978. The purpose of the Association is to carry on a program to serve and preserve the mutual interest of the subdivision property owners and residents of the area. The Association is by volunteer membership and you need not be a property owner to be a member. Association meetings are held at the Community Center on the third Thursday of the month. We urge all of you to become members so we can work together to retain the way of life that brought us to friendly and wonderful Spring Valley!