Elizabeth Lake (Los Angeles County, California)
|Location||Angeles National Forest
Los Angeles County, California
|Basin countries||United States|
|Surface elevation||973 m (3,192 ft)|
|Settlements||Elizabeth Lake, Lake Hughes|
Elizabeth Lake is a natural lake that lies directly on the San Andreas Fault within the Angeles National Forest in northwest Los Angeles County, California. The lake is perennial, but may dry up entirely during drought years.
Situated in the western Antelope Valley and surrounded by the rolling golden foothills of the Sierra Pelona Mountains, it is one of a series of sag ponds in the area. Others include Hughes Lake and the Munz Lakes, all created by the motion of the Earth's tectonic plates.
In 1780, the Spanish explorer-priest Junipero Serra named the water La Laguna de Diablo (Devil's Lake) because some who lived nearby believed that within it dwelt a pet of the devil, which came to be known as the Elizabeth Lake Monster.
Sometime after 1834, the lake was called Liebre (Rabbit) for a very short time. Then in the 1840s it became known as La Laguna de Chico Lopez, for Francisco "Chico" Lopez, who grazed cattle on its banks.
In 1849, Elizabeth Wingfield was camping with her family beside the lake. Walking on a log to fill buckets for cooking and drinking, Elizabeth slipped and fell in. She was not injured, but several other vacationing families witnessed her mishap, and in fun they began calling the lake Elizabeth's Lake. The name caught on and locals started referring to the water as Elizabeth Lake; later it became official. It is now sometimes incorrectly referred to as Lake Elizabeth.
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Spain and Mexico
From at least the 1780s[need quotation to verify] the route of El Camino Viejo, or The Old Road, ascended San Francisquito Canyon through the San Francisquito Pass, skirting the lake to its north westward and then north through the hills and west to Aguaje Lodoso in the Antelope Valley and westward to Cow Springs and on to cross over the Tejon Pass and down to the San Joaquin Valley via San Emigdio Creek Canyon. Another route to the San Joaquin Valley from the lake was directly north across the Antelope Valley to cross over the Tehachapi Mountains at the Old Tejon Pass to Tejon Creek, which after 1843 was the site of Rancho Tejon.
In the early 1850s the vicinity of La Laguna de Chico Lopez was a frequent haunt of grizzly bears—so numerous that cattle ranching was considered impossible.
In 1854 the route to the San Joaquin Valley shifted away from the Old Tejon Pass route to the Fort Tejon Pass, and the Grapevine Canyon on the Stockton - Los Angeles Road. The later Butterfield Overland Mail shortened the route to Cow Springs avoiding Mud Springs, skirting Elisabeth Lake to its north westward via the San Andreas Rift to Oakgrove Canyon then north via Pine Canyon to Antelope Valley and westward again to Cow Springs.
The first building at the lake was La Casa de Miquel Ortiz, an adobe built by Miguel Ortiz, a muleteer, on land given him by his employer, Edward Fitzgerald Beale. Nearby to the south of the Ortiz Adobe was the Andrada Stage Station built in 1887, close to the San Francisquito Pass, where the stage road rose from the San Francisquito Canyon.
In 1869 the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors designated Elizabeth Lake School District to serve the area, with the only established school between Los Angeles and Bakersfield. Land for the school was donated by Samuel and Almeda Frakes from some of their ranchland. Children from the Lake Hughes, Elizabeth Lake, and Green Valley areas are still served by this school district. A wooden school was built that lasted until it was replaced in the early 1930s by the adobe structure on the east side of Elizabeth Lake Road, a quarter mile north of Andrada Corner (intersection of San Francisquito and Elizabeth Lake Roads).
In 1924, Judge Hughes[clarification needed] separated the western part of Elizabeth Lake to create a recreation resort area, and the western body of water was renamed Lake Hughes.
- Forest Service (May 2004). "Draft Land Management Plan: Part 2-Angeles National Forest Strategy" (.PDF). R5-MB-041. U.S. Department of Agriculture: 47. Retrieved 2009-03-22.
- "Mysterious L.A.: The Monster of Elizabeth Lake?". Los Angeles Almanac. 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-26.
- Mildred Brooke Hoover, E. G. Rensch and H. E. Rensch, Historic Spots In California: The Southern Counties, Stanford University Press, 1932, pp.85-86
- Johnson, John R., Earle, David D., Tataviam Geography and Ethnohistory, Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology Vol. 12, No. 2, pp.191-214 (1990)
- Map of Passes in the Sierra Nevada from Walker's Pass to the Coast Range: from Explorations and Surveys made under the direction of the Hon. Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War, by Lieut. R.S. Williamson Topl. Engr. assisted by Lieut. J.G. Parke Topl. Engr. and Mr. Isaac Williams Smith, Civ. Engr. 1853. Explorations and Surveys for a Rail Road Route from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. War Department. Routes in California to connect with the routes near the 32nd and 35th parallels. Engraved by Selmar Siebert.
- Horace Bell, Reminiscences of a ranger: or, early times in Southern California, Yarnell, Caystile & Mathes, printers, Los Angeles, 1881, p. 250
- Hoover, Rensch and Rensch, Historic Spots In California: The Southern Counties, p.85-86
- Ameluxen, Jack and Louise. Discover Green Valley Local History, Folktales and Facts (Second ed.). p. 36.
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