Sunday, October 30, 2016
"The Lost Communities Of Lake Oroville"
The photograph shows Gov. Edmund G. "Pat" Brown about to press a button that would "set off the first dynamite blast for the construction of Oroville Dam on October 21, 1961." With him are students from the community of Las Plumas which would be covered by the waters of Lake Oroville. One of them, Robyn (Foster) Payne, later wrote that "it was the beginning of the end of a way of life for me."
As memories dim of the small communities covered by the waters, local writers Larry R. Matthews (author of "The Building Of The Oroville Dam") and Scott C. Roberts have published more than a hundred black and white photographs, many from residents of those towns.
"The Lost Communities Of Lake Oroville" ($21.99 in paperback from Arcadia Publishing, arcadiapublishing.com), part of the "Images Of America" series, is a gallery of historical photographs, some quite rare, with detailed captions evoking life before the dam.
Before 1968, when the dam was completed, "most buildings were either removed or burned down, cemeteries were relocated to higher ground, roads and railroads were realigned, vegetation was removed, and all residents were relocated."
The book's six chapters consider areas radiating out from Oroville that would be covered in water, including Las Plumas and Big Bend Powerhouse. A 1968 picture of the south bank of the Feather River shows the huge powerhouse half submerged as "gates on the Oroville Dam were closed, and the water that would create Lake Oroville began to rise." There are also Bidwell Bar, Enterprise, Mooretown and Feather Falls Village.
The "Bidwell Bar suspension bridge, the old tollhouse, and the Mother Orange Tree" were saved (and relocated). The final chapter explores what was exposed as the lake level dropped in 2014-2015. One of the authors is shown in 2014 standing by a split rock near what used to be the Mountain Springs School at Enterprise (shown in another photograph).
In making these poignant images available, the authors have done an inestimable service.
The authors will be at the Book and Wine Pairing, Saturday, November 19, from 2:00-6:00 p.m. at Purple Line Urban Winery, 760 Safford Street in Oroville; for details visit http://bit.ly/2e8lJqe.