The following historical information about Pinecrest Lake is provided with the permission of The Pinecrest Lake Resort. Additional historical information can be found at www.pinecrestlakeresort.com/about.html.

The area which is now Pinecrest Lake was once a meadow surrounded by granite outcroppings that was used by the Me-Wuk Indians as a trading ground. Scattered throughout the forest you can still find evidence of ancient grinding rocks used by the Me-Wuks in areas assumed to be their campsites. Over the years after the Gold Rush, miners and settlers began searching for new opportunities and logging became a major industry in the area. Logging built new foothill towns and water was vital for the survival of these new towns. Many lakes, such as Pinecrest, were developed in order to sell and provide water to the foothill towns.

Pinecrest Lake was built in the logging era of 1914. The lake was to provide drinking water to the lower elevations and generate power through the power house downstream at Spring Gap. Pinecrest Lake is the last in a series of dams constructed on the South Fork of the Stanislaus River. In the beginning the purpose was to divert water via ditches and flumes to the mining claims and towns in and around Columbia and the foothills. Much of this aqueduct system remains intact today and is still used as a portion of the main water system for the surrounding area.

In 1923, Pacific Gas and Electric Company purchased the Spring Gap dam from San Francisco and Sierra Water & Power Company. Pinecrest Lake today is a component of the PG&E Spring Gap – Stanislaus Hydropower Project. In the United States, hydroelectric and transmission line projects located on federal lands are regulated and licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a periods typically of 30 to 50 years.


Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and the Stanislaus National Forest Summit Ranger District (USFS)

Joint Management of Pinecrest Lake

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and the Stanislaus National Forest (STF) jointly manage Pinecrest Lake reservoir.
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