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Lake County, California

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County of Lake
Clear Lake, the dominant geographic feature in Lake County
Clear Lake, the dominant geographic feature in Lake County
Official seal of County of Lake
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
California's location in the United States
California's location in the United States
Country  United States
State  California
Incorporated May 20, 1861[1]
Named for Clear Lake
County seat Lakeport
 • Total 1,329 sq mi (3,440 km2)
 • Land 1,256 sq mi (3,250 km2)
 • Water 73 sq mi (190 km2)
Highest elevation[2] 7,059 ft (2,152 m)
Population (April 1, 2010)[3]
 • Total 64,665
 • Estimate (2014)[3] 64,184
 • Density 49/sq mi (19/km2)
Time zone Pacific Standard Time (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)
Area code 707
FIPS code 06-033
GNIS feature ID 277281

Lake County is a county located in the north central portion of the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 census, the population was 64,665.[4] The county seat is Lakeport.[5] The county takes its name from Clear Lake, the dominant geographic feature in the county and the largest natural lake wholly within California (Lake Tahoe is partially in Nevada; Salton Sea was accidentally flooded).

Lake County forms the Clearlake, CA Micropolitan Statistical Area.[6] It is directly north of the San Francisco Bay Area.


Lake County was formed in 1861 from parts of Napa and Mendocino counties, but the area had European-American settlers from at least the 1840s. Lake County has long been known as a farming community.

The 1911 California Blue Book lists the major crops as Bartlett pears and beans. Other crops include grain, alfalfa, hay, prunes, peaches, apples, grapes and walnuts. Stockraising included goats, hogs, turkeys and dairying.[7]

Some vineyards were planted in the 1870s by European Americans but the first in the state were established in the 18th century by Spanish missionaries. By the early 20th century, the area was earning a reputation for producing some of the world's greatest wines. However, in 1920, national Prohibition essentially ended Lake County's wine production. With authorized cultivation limited to sacramental purposes, most of the vineyards were ripped out and replanted with walnut and pear farms.

A re-emergence of the wine industry began in the 1960s when a few growers rediscovered the area's grape growing potential and began planting vineyards. The area has increased vineyards from fewer than 100 acres (0.4 km2) of grapevines in 1965 to more than 8,800 acres (36 km2) of vineyards today. Since the late 20th century, several American Viticultural Areas, such as High Valley AVA and Red Hills Lake County AVA, have been recognized as having distinct character. Many of the vineyards in Lake County today support sustainable farming practices.


Spring time in the vineyards

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,329 square miles (3,440 km2), of which 1,256 square miles (3,250 km2) is land and 73 square miles (190 km2) (5.5%) is water.[8] Two main watercourses drain the county: Cache Creek, which is the outlet of Clear Lake; and Putah Creek. Both of these flow to the Sacramento River. The main streams which flow into Clear Lake are Forbes Creek, Scotts Creek, Middle Creek and Kelsey Creek. At the extreme north of the county Lake Pillsbury and the Van Arsdale Reservoir dam the Eel River, providing water and power to Ukiah in Mendocino County.

Clear Lake is believed to be the oldest lake in North America, due to a geological fluke. The lake sits on a huge block of stone which slowly tilts in the northern direction at the same rate as the lake fills in with sediment, thus keeping the water at roughly the same depth. The geology of the county is chaotic, being based on Franciscan Assemblage hills. Numerous small faults are present in the south end of the lake as well as many old volcanoes, the largest being Cobb Mountain. The geologic history of the county shows events of great violence, such as the eruption of Mount Konocti and Mount St. Helena and the collapse of Cow Mountain, which created the hills around the county seat of Lakeport. Blue Lakes, Lake Pillsbury, and Indian Valley Reservoir are the county's other major bodies of water.

Lake County has habitats for a variety of species of concern including the uncommon herb, Legenere limosa, the rare Eryngium constancei, and the tule elk. Waterfowl, bear, and other wildlife abound in the Clear Lake basin.

Due to its surrounding hilly terrain, Lake is the only one of California's 58 counties never to have been served by a railroad line.

National protected areas

State protected areas

Mineral springs

In the late nineteenth century, the worldwide popularity of mineral water for the relief of myriad physical ailments resulted in the development of mineral resorts around Clear Lake.[9]

  • Greene Bartlett discovered Bartlett hot springs in 1870. The springs were developed into a resort and by 1900 included a mineral water bottling plant. The resort burned down in 1934.[10]
  • Harbin Hot Springs was developed by settlers in the 1860s.
  • Highland Springs opened in 1891, and was destroyed by fire in 1945. During its time, Highland had an elegant dining room and a spacious hotel.[9]
  • Saratoga Springs Resort was opened by J. J. Liebert in 1873 with several cabins, and within two decades had room for 350 guests.[11]
  • Witter Springs Resort opened in 1873 with a hotel and guest cottages.[11]


Major highways

There are also several numbered county routes in Lake County.

Public transportation

Lake Transit serves all areas around Clear Lake. Local routes serve Lakeport, Clearlake and Lower Lake. Connections are also provided to St. Helena (Napa County) and Ukiah (Mendocino County). Some routes operate on weekdays only: no service is provided on Sundays and observed public holidays.[12][13]


Lampson Field is the county's public airport. There are also several private airstrips located throughout the county.

Railroads (Historical)

In 1888 the Vaca Valley and Clear Lake Railroad reached Rumsey, but the planned line to Clear Lake was never built. The Clear Lake Railroad started work on a line from Hopland to Lakeport: "In November 1911 first ground was broken for the Hopland-Clear Lake railroad to Hopland. Mrs Harriet Lee Hammond, wife of the president of the road started construction. ... There were six miles of track out of Hopland ...", but this was also abandoned.[14][15][16]


The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.

Cities by population and crime rates



Places by population, race, and income


Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 2,969
1880 6,596 122.2%
1890 7,101 7.7%
1900 6,017 −15.3%
1910 5,526 −8.2%
1920 5,402 −2.2%
1930 7,166 32.7%
1940 8,069 12.6%
1950 11,481 42.3%
1960 13,786 20.1%
1970 19,548 41.8%
1980 36,366 86.0%
1990 50,631 39.2%
2000 58,309 15.2%
2010 64,665 10.9%
Est. 2013 63,860 −1.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[26]
1790-1960[27] 1900-1990[28]
1990-2000[29] 2010-2013[4]

The 2010 United States Census reported that Lake County had a population of 64,665. The racial makeup of Lake County was 52,033 (80.5%) White, 1,232 (1.9%) African American, 2,049 (3.2%) Native American, 724 (1.1%) Asian, 108 (0.2%) Pacific Islander, 5,455 (8.4%) from other races, and 3,064 (4.7%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 11,088 persons (17.1%).[30]


There were a total of 34,031 homes in Lake County in 2005. This county has gone through a growth in housing units, adding a sum of 1,414 residential structures since 2001, a change of 4.3 percent. Lake County ranks 978 of 3,141, compared to change in residential structure growth in counties throughout the Unities States.

Lake County had a median home value in the year 2005 of $255,300, according to the American Community Survey. This median is less than the overall California 2005 home median value of $477,700 and greater than median home value of $167,500 for the rest of the nation in that year. In 2005, the American Community Survey reported that 14.4% of Lake County's owner-occupied dwellings are valued over a half a million dollars.

In the county the population was spread out with 24.1% under the age of 18, 6.0% from 18 to 24, 23.6% from 25 to 44, 26.8% from 45 to 64, and 19.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 97.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.7 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $49,627, and the median income for a family was $55,818. Males had a median income of $45,771 versus $44,026 for females. The per capita income for the county was $43,825. About 6.9% of families and 4.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.8% of those under age 18 and 7.3% of those age 65 or over. (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

The recent sharp increase in per capita income can be directly linked to those people who have recently relocated to Lake County and telecommute to their jobs in the Bay Area. In addition, real estate values have risen due to a boom from 2003 to 2006, caused by Bay Area residents' discovery that Lake County residential real estate was lower in cost than that in adjacent Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties.

Within Lake County are two incorporated cities, the county seat of Lakeport and Clearlake, the largest city, and the communities of Kelseyville, Blue Lakes, Clearlake Oaks, Clearlake Park, Cobb, Finley, Glenhaven, Hidden Valley Lake, Clearlake Riviera, Loch Lomond, Lower Lake, Lucerne, Middletown, Nice, Spring Valley, Upper Lake, Whispering Pines, and Witter Springs.

The income of residents of the county varies widely. The county is the largest employer thus far, followed by large retailers such as Wal-Mart, Safeway, and Kmart. Several franchised retailers have recently entered the county (up 28% since 2003) and have created a diverse employment environment. Employment statistics continue to improve, again supported by the influx of Bay Area relocations and the benefit of telecommuting. Lake County is mostly agricultural, with tourist facilities and some light industry. Major crops include pears, walnuts and, increasingly, wine grapes.


According to official estimates based on the 2000 Census, 30% of housing units in Lake County were mobile homes.[31] This was the highest percentage of any California county.[32]


Voter registration statistics

Cities by population and voter registration


Lake County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year GOP DEM Others
2012 39.8% 6,474 56.3% 9,159 3.9% 641
2008 38.9% 9,935 58.2% 14,854 3.3% 840
2004 44.9% 11,093 53.2% 13,141 2.8% 1,089
2000 41.6% 8,699 51.2% 10,717 7.2% 1,503
1996 35.0% 7,458 48.9% 10,432 16.1% 3,445
1992 28.8% 6,678 45.4% 10,548 25.8% 5,987
1988 48.0% 9,366 50.4% 9,828 1.6% 308
1984 54.8% 10,874 43.6% 8,648 1.6% 309
1980 53.6% 8,934 35.9% 5,978 10.5% 1,742
1976 44.5 5,462 51.9% 6,374 3.7% 449
1972 55.1% 6,477 40.1% 4,715 4.8% 558
1968 49.0% 4,464 41.5% 3,777 9.6% 870
1964 43.6% 3,616 56.4% 4,680 0.1% 6
1960 58.7% 4,176 40.8% 2,897 0.5% 36
1956 64.8% 4,073 34.8% 2,185 0.4% 24
1952 67.5% 4,367 31.5% 2,038 1.0% 63
1948 57.3% 3,054 37.5% 1,999 5.3% 280
1944 55.0% 2,059 44.6% 1,671 0.4% 16
1940 53.4% 2,215 45.7% 1,897 0.9% 39
1936 48.7% 1,797 49.8% 1,837 1.4% 53
1932 34.8% 1,301 62.6% 2,344 2.6% 99
1928 65.4% 1,820 33.3% 926 1.4% 38
1924 44.9% 795 14.8% 261 40.3% 713
1920 57.2% 993 32.9% 571 9.9% 171

Lake County leans Democratic in Presidential and congressional elections. The last Republican to win a majority in the county was Ronald Reagan in 1984.

Lake County is split between California's 3rd and 5th congressional districts, represented by John Garamendi (DWalnut Grove) and Mike Thompson (DSt. Helena), respectively.[34]

In the state legislature, Lake is part of the 4th Assembly district and the 2nd Senate district.

On November 4, 2008, Lake County voted 52.6% for Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages.[35]


The main crops in 2011 (in $1000's) are[36]

1 Grapes, Wine 38,450
2 Pears, Bartlett 14,889
3 Nursery Products, Misc. 3,533
4 Walnuts, English 2,381
5 Cattle & Calves, Unspecified 1,895
6 Pears, Asian 1,558
7 Field Crops, Unspecified 1,136
8 Pasture, Range 405
9 Pears, Unspecified 400
10 Vegetables, Unspecified 193


Topological map of central Lake County


Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ Only larceny-theft cases involving property over $400 in value are reported as property crimes.
  2. ^ Other = Some other race + Two or more races
  3. ^ Native American = Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander + American Indian or Alaska Native
  4. ^ a b Percentage of registered voters with respect to total population. Percentages of party members with respect to registered voters follow.


  1. ^ "Lake County". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  2. ^ "Snow Mountain". Retrieved April 9, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Lake County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved April 9, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  6. ^ Clearlake, CA Micropolitan Statistical Area
  7. ^ California Secretary of State (1911). California Blue Book. p. 655. 
  8. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  9. ^ a b Sanderson, Marcia (2005). Lake County. Charlston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. pp. 39–52. ISBN 978-0-7385-3030-7. 
  10. ^ "LAKE COUNTY HISTORY". Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b "Lake County History Timeline". Retrieved September 8, 2012. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Glimpses of the past". Cloverdale Reveille. 1 August 1984. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  15. ^ "CLEAR LAKE RAILROAD TO BEGIN WORK SOON". San Francisco Call. 30 September 1911. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  16. ^ Aurelius O. Carpenter And Percy H. Millberry, (Transcribed by Peggy Hooper) (1914). History of Mendocino and Lake Counties, California With Biographical Sketches. Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B02001. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Office of the Attorney General, Department of Justice, State of California. Table 11: Crimes – 2009. Retrieved 2013-11-14.
  19. ^ a b c United States Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation. Crime in the United States, 2012, Table 8 (California). Retrieved 2013-11-14.
  20. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B03003. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
  21. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19301. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  22. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19013. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  23. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B19113. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  24. ^ a b U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  25. ^ U.S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey, 2011 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, Table B01003. American FactFinder. Retrieved 2013-10-21.
  26. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  28. ^ "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  30. ^ "2010 Census P.L. 94-171 Summary File Data". United States Census Bureau. 
  31. ^ U.S. Department of Commerce
  32. ^ U.S. Department of Commerce
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q California Secretary of State. February 10, 2013 - Report of Registration. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  34. ^ "California's 3rd Congressional District - Representatives & District Map". Civic Impulse, LLC. Retrieved March 1, 2013. 
  35. ^ California Secretary of State: "Statement of Vote for November 4, 2008, General Election", page 62.
  36. ^ "California Agricultural Resource Directory 2010 –2011" (PDF). Mother Jones. Retrieved 1 March 2014. 

External links

Coordinates: 39°05′N 122°46′W / 39.09°N 122.76°W / 39.09; -122.76