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Finnon Lake

Welcome to Finnonlake.com

the original, and longest running

website about Finnon Lake. 

Finnon Lake

Welcome to Finnonlake.com

the original, and longest running

website about Finnon Lake. 

(Website best viewed with Chrome or Firefox, does not display correctly using IE.)

Stay Tuned

We're updating the website for our upcoming tenth year

Please check back soon as we update our site with additional information as time goes on.  

Aerial view of Finnon, 2018

About finnonlake.com -

The Beginning -

Late in 2008 the idea to promote Finnon Lake and its camping area through an online presence came to be.  The entire idea had a couple goals in mind. Promote Finnon via awareness, invite campers, use camper's revenue to pay the state fees owed do to the dam.  The administrative group, a board made up of seven members, took to the idea, as it presented no real involvement from them.  Save two members - we'll call Barb and Fred.   Finnonlake.com began as an idea.  In 2009 the website was up and running and by 2010 it was even mentioned on the National Geographc's Sierra Nevada geotourism website.  Finally - recognition on a huge scale.

In 2011

the replacement of the then 106 year old earthen dam began.  It took approximately six months to to remove what was there, wind row the materials removed to dry it, tear out the old drain pipe that was made of concrete, wrapped in riveted metal, replace that with modern plastic pipe, then replace all the dirt to construct the new dam.  The new dam has a much wider base to meet earthquake standards.


for quite a while the website reported daily construction progress, camping tips, camping safety information, and almost five years of photos showing the lake go from empty to full.  Even though this website is not associated with the real property administrators of Finnon it has been providing information longer, and in much more depth, than any other website. 2019 marks the tenth year the domain of Finnonlake.com has been on the internet.  To borrow a phrase from Star Trek, the 'prime directive' of this website is to provide information about Finnon and offer information for nearby activities and camping venues as well. Please view the entire site as it still hosts several photos and history of the area.

Local Area history (in brief)-

The area Finnon is located in

has lots of history to share.  Kit Carson's 1844 exploration of the area and appropriately naming Rock Creek.  Five years later the Gold Rush of 1849.  The 1867 "swinging bridge" that's still in use today.    (Photo above ca. 1914, courtesy Library of Congress)

Nearby lumber mills fed

the needs of a growing country.  Before the nearby forest became a national forest it had vast tracts privately owned. Millions of board feet of lumber were shuffled across a canyon via cable cars.  Steam locomotives rumbled through the forest carrying felled trees to the mill at Pino Grande.

Gold was not

the real 'money-maker' for the area, wood was.  The cable cars used to get back and forth across the canyon on a cable system strung 1200 feet above the river and canyon.  The cable towers burned down a few times.  With the last burn came the end of the cable system, 1949.  (Photos, above and near left, courtesy Calif. State Library)

When trucks

became a prevalent mode to move lumber some rail spurs were abandoned.  The ties and trestles of those lines were used to help build the largest hotel in the forest, the Bret Harte.  Although none of its 250 rooms were ever used, due to the death of its builder / promoter, the hotel stood empty from the late 1920's till half of it collapsed in 1936 due to heavy snow.  It then succumbed to fire, and now only its rock foundation remains as the forest slowly reclaims it. (Photo pre 1936, unknown photgrapher)

Back in the mid 1800's

the main route over the Sierra mountains was what is today US Highway 50.  Used by Snowshoe Johnson, the Pony Express, wagon trains, and delivery teams,  Along the route were 'road houses' to feed and house travelers.  Although many were built one remains, The Sportsman's Hall. Today it only serves food, no lodging. 

(Photo ca. 1866, courtesy Library of Congress Archives)

All of these

helped grow what we call today Placerville.  Also known as Dry Diggins, and Old Hangtown.  Placerville has had a colorful history and is still a great place to visit with lots of interesting shops, (one being the oldest, continuously operating hardware store west of the Mississippi) great restaurants, and is the hub of so many great things to do and see. (Photo of Main St., ca. 1866, courtesy Library of Congress

Need more history, click here -

Way back when

the dam was being replaced in 2011 a question was asked about the horse.  (An old feral stallion that's been here for longer than most humans.)  Where will he get water?  What about grazing grasses he usually fed on? Those natural grasses would be demolished by heavy equipment. The water drained away to replace the dam and accommodate the heavy construction equipment.  A concerned neighbor placed a water trough near his shelter, and continued to bring him food.  All these things the property's administrators should have done but they didn't care then, they don't care now.  Pinocchio, the horse, wants to show you more by clicking HERE.