Clear Lake Dam – Clear Lake National Wildlife Refuge – Modoc County CA


The following is an excerpt from an interview with Abe Boehm, a CCC enrollee (Company 3740) stationed at Camp Clear Lake in northeastern California between February and June of 1937:

“I must have worked on the Clear Lake dam for 2 or 3 months. Now you talk about work! Every stone we put in that dam was hand placed. There were about 60 to 80 men working on the dam. We had five or six 1932/1933 Chevrolet dump trucks; the truck driver and two guys would go out and drive through the sagebrush south of the dam, where those rocks were thicker than anything. Two guys, one on each side, would get out and throw every rock they could lift into the truck, and get a full load. Then they’d go to the dam and unload the rocks. There would be another crew at the dam to place them.

They placed every rock by hand; they’d wallow it around and get it buried, and then they’d put down a layer of clay. Not concrete, just clay. That clay’s still there. They’d spread the clay thickly over the rocks to cover them. And sort of wallow the rocks down to get them placed. They didn’t have front-end loaders and no cranes to lift anything; they had to walk the rocks up to the top. All we had was some iron-wheel wheelbarrows and shovels.

Sometimes, some of the engineer types would come out to do a survey and get their levels all set and everything. I remember they were very particular about the splices; you had to work the rock ends in to a new section to keep them joined. Before we enlarged the dam, when Clear Lake got high it would just about cover up that country, from the lake down to Doublehead country. The water would be about a foot deep for miles, so the cattlemen got together and asked the government to raise the dam. Several years after we built the dam, there was a lot of water again – but not a drop of water leaked through it.”

–“A Good Deal – Life in the CCCs”

Source notes

Barbara Ditman, “A Good Deal – Life in the CCCs,” in We Can Take It: The Civilian Conservation Corps in the Land of the Lakes, The Shaw Historical Library, Oregon Institute of Technology, 2006. Pgs. 16-18.

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Location Info

Clear Lake Reservoir
Tulelake, CA

Coordinates: 41.86, -121.146

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