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Stretching along the shore of Clear Lake form Cache Creek to Windflower Point, the City of Clearlake was incorporated in 1980; its population is now over 13,000. The present period of growth began in 1922 with development of the Clearlake Highlands and Clearlake Park subdivisions. Known as "the Highlands" to long-time residents, the city meanders over hills throughout its 10.5 square miles. Some walnut orchards remain in the Burns Valley area.
Within the city are three lakefront parks. Between Redbud and Austin parks, Lakeshore Drive serves as the main focus for commercial, retail, and visitor-oriented activity. The City Hall neighbors Austin Park on Olympic Drive. The City has created a third park, Highlands Park mid-way between the older two.
Commercially developing areas include Highway 53 at Dam Road, at Lakeshore Drive, along Olympic Drive, and just off Highway 53 north of the city. The city is developing new commercial uses for the former Pearce airfield between the old and new Highways 53. Outrageous Waters Water Park and Fun Center is accessed via old Highway 53. A unique spot within the City is Borax Lake, adjacent to Sulphur Bank Road. Once mined for its large borax deposits, recently shouldered by homes, the lake is a national archeological site.
The Lake County campus of Clearlake Community College, Adventist Health Rosebud Community Hospital, South County Civic Center, a major shopping center, and Oak Hill Middle School are clustered near the southern edge of the city. A twice-weekly newspaper, the Clearlake Observer-American serves the area. Near Burns Valley Mall are the Clearlake Cinema; Redbud Library, a branch of the Lake County Library system; and an assisted living facility that opened in 2000.
The annual Forth of July parade begins at Austin Park, where festivities continue, and closing with a boat parade and fireworks display at dusk. Redbud Park has also been the site for the annual International Worm Races since 1970.
Clear Lake, the 43,000 acre center of Lake County, is the largest natural lake in California; it may very well be the oldest lake in North America as scientific evidence has proven the lake to be at least 150,000 years old. The area took shape from volcanic action; Clear Lake's current form was created by a landslide thousands of years ago that blocked the broad valley's drainage west into the Russian River. The water rose until it found a new outlet, Cache Creek, which drains eastward into the Sacramento River.
CLEAR LAKE HISTORY & GEOLOGY
LARGEST: Clear Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in California, wit 64 square miles of surface area, and measuring 19 miles long and 8 miles across at its widest. There are over 100 miles of shoreline. Average depth is 28 feet. Water temperature averages 61 degrees and varies from 40 degrees in the winter to 75 degrees in the summer.
MOST PRODUCTIVE: The lake may hold more fish per acre than any other lake in the country. The 100 miles of shoreline offer ideal habitat for fish. Downed trees, tules, water grasses, and piers provide shelter for sport fish such as bass, crappie, bluegill and catfish. Native fish include blackfish, Sacramento perch, tule perch and hitch. Silverside minnows and threadfin shade are also food sources for the sport fish.
BEST FISHING: The lake provides the best bass fishing in the West. Bass fishermen can be spotted at dawn any day of the year. Over 20 bass tournaments are conducted annually, with frequent and additional regional club events. Catfishing draws increasing numbers of enthusiasts, particularly to the annual Catfish Derbies held in the southeast arm of Clear Lake.
OLDEST: Clear Lake is probably the oldest lake in North America. The basin that would become Clear Lake lifted above sea level, perhaps 50 million years ago, the result of a collision of the Pacific and North American crustal plates.
Geologists Norman Lehrman talks about this "geologically live" area: "Things are moving and changing all the time. Activity along the San Andreas and related faults reached this area about 3 million years ago, creating a plumbing system which extends deep into the earth. Through these fractures, magmas rose, and the Clear Lake volcanic field exploded into life."
MOST UNUSUAL: Like most lakes this old would be grassland today. Clear Lake began some 2.5 million years ago as a series of small oxbow lakes scattered along ancestral Casche Creek, Horses, camels, deer, ground sloths, and even mammoths grazed along the shores. With time, the valley deepened and a larger lake covered the area. Ancient lake sediments exposed in Big Valley reveal 400,000-year-old fish fossils consistent with the native fish population of modern Clear Lake.
Down in the lakebed, vent holes emitting vigorous bubbles of carbonated soda water are visible at the water's surface. Divers report the springs in Soda Bay emerge from cylindrical shafts up to 15 feet in diameter and over 100 feet deep. The larger holes host ecosystems which serve as nursery colonies for millions of juvenile catfish, attracted by the production afforded by the caves and abundant food supplies. Food is plentiful because the upward-jetting springs cause an inflow of lake water down the vent walls, sweeping insect larvae and other debris into the vents.