2023 Big Creek Tour
By Morris Garagian
Bro Fred has organized memorable events for the VBAC and, once again, he did not disappoint. This run was a small excursion up into the high country, past Shaver Lake, the scene of a recent tour, and on to the metropolis of Big Creek.
The small band of hardy souls met at the bottom of the 4 lane and soon it was clutches out as we ascended the high speed run of the Sierra Heritage National Scenic Byway. Passing through the town of Shaver Lake, we were reminded of our earlier trip for boysenberry milk shakes. Past the crowded rest step and at a picturesque overlook of the lake, Bro Russ pulled over for a quick photo op. At this location, Mother Nature’s downpouring of precipitation this past winter was apparent – the water appeared to be right up against the top of the dam! A pretty impressive site after seeing the waters down for so many years previously.
On past the lake area and on to our turn off and now Green Goblin was getting its workout. Lots of twists, turns, rises, and falls. What the Abington motor couldn’t handle in high gear, was certainly taken care of with a couple of lower gears. All too soon, we passed the sign ‘Big Creek, Elevation 4984, Population 175’.
We soon discovered that Big Creek is the quintessential ‘company town’. The town was built at the site of the first dam and powerplant of Southern California Edison’s Big Creek Hydroelectric Project, one of the most extensive in the world. Penstock pipes for the original Powerhouses One & Two, built in 1912-13, were purchased from Krupp Works in Germany because at that time the manufacturer was able to produce steel pipe of the tensile strength needed to withstand the high water pressure in the 1500’ drop to Powerhouse One.
On to lunch at the Big Creek General Store, where we learned a little more of the town with it’s elementary school, post office, church, volunteer fire department, and private residences. Of these, 22 (about half the original town’s structures) were destroyed by the 2020 Creek Fire.
A note must be made of the great lunch we had: Morris was doing quite well on his low carb diet until Bro Peter mentioned that fresh hot peach cobbler had made it’s exit from the oven. That still wasn’t enough to bend to temptation, until Pete mentioned a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. That cobbler was really good with the 5000’ mountain air!
From then on, it was time stretch the legs, get a few photos of the Powerhouse, and return home. Great fun blasting through those mountain roads.
‘Til our next outing,