Lake Almanor West is a relatively recent development in the Lake Almanor Basin, according to Peggy Wright, Lake Almanor West Auxiliary board member.
Until the turn of the century, the lands bordered an area long identified as Big Meadows, the home of many of the area’s founding dairy and cattle ranching families.
Wright said that prior to 1889, Thomas B. Walker, who owned and operated the Red River Lumber Mill Company in Westwood, also owned a major portion of the Lake Almanor Peninsula, Hamilton Branch, as well as East Shore and West Shore lands, which the lumber company logged extensively in the late 1920s.
According to information provided by the Auxiliary, Lake Almanor West is part of the 2,500-acre parcel purchased by Edward A. Clifford in 1950 for $180,000, or $64 an acre. Red River offered Clifford the balance of the peninsula property for an additional $5,000, but he turned it down, saying he was only interested in lake frontage parcels.
Upon acquiring the properties, Clifford subdivided the real estate on the east shore of Lake Almanor first, said Wright.
Growth required infrastructure, and in the summer of 1962, Clifford made the decision to build the Lake Almanor Country Club golf course after he met with Luther Carr, board member on the first Golf Management Committee, who showed him where he wanted to build the course on what is now Clifford Drive.
Clifford also sold approximately 240-acres that is now Hamilton Branch for $44,000, to paving contractor Slim Malvich.
In consideration for building the roads on the Lake Almanor Peninsula, Clifford deeded all the land he owned in Hamilton Branch to Malvich in lieu of monetary payment.
Clifford and his family continued to develop the properties they still held, later deeding the west shore acreage to the West Almanor Community Club.
Wright noted that Lake Almanor West consists of 615 acres with about 2.5 miles of shoreline. An initial sale of 695 lots began in 1974 after Edward Clifford’s death in 1972.
The developers, Edward Charles Clifford and William Finkbeiner, said in a letter that, “The prime objective of the project is to help satisfy recreational second home demands for low to medium density housing, moderately expensive living units, with a minimum of maintenance responsibilities.”
Reviewing the record, Wright said they proposed that 56 percent of the land be used for residential lots, 10 percent be used for roads and the remaining 34 percent be used for common areas, such as a golf course, tennis courts, recreational areas and open spaces.
The preparation for a 9-hole golf course on part of the greenbelt at Lake Almanor West Golf Course began in 1977, and took several years to complete. The clubhouse was added in 1980 and the course officially opened in 1981, she said.
As a condition of approval of the subdivision, Wright said the parcel was deeded to Plumas County to be developed as a county park with a boat ramp, but with the passage of Proposition 13, the county realized it couldn’t develop and maintain the park and deeded it back to the developer.
Almanor West Grill, located near the driving range at Lake Almanor West Golf Course, features an interior wall dedicated to the history of Almanor West over the span of several decades.
“The history of this area is fascinating, and it’s being lost,” lamented Wright, who has lived in Almanor West since 1990. “We wanted to create this wall telling the story of this area that we knew would be significant to everyone in the community.”
The auxiliary funded the project to preserve the history of Lake Almanor West for future generations, she explained, adding “There are 695 lots in Almanor West, of which 400 landowners are members of the Auxiliary.”
Continuing, she said, “We hope people who come to eat at the grill will take time to look over the information we have displayed on the wall,” since more and more people are developing an interest in the history of the area.
“Auxiliary member Lori Sinclair,” assistant coordinator “was invaluable in helping to make the project possible,” said Wright, “along with 28 others who in various ways contributed information and donated the photos that now hang on the wall.”
The Almanor West Grill, operated by executive chef Jason Shaffer, is located at 111 Slim Drive, and is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., seven days a week. For information, call 259-5545.