Topics » Environment   July 12, 2013

A Look Into a River's Past

A Lake Disappears

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On the BanksEarly MapsA Flourishing EcosystemTurning Marsh into FarmlandRow of RowboatsTurn of the Century AbodeA Lake DisappearsFamily with BasketsMan with a Tule HouseYokut Portrait, 1910Preparing AcornsSanta Rosa Rancheria Family

A Lake Disappears

The San Joaquin River was not the only body of water diverted for agricultural use.

Until the late 1800s, southern San Joaquin Valley’s Tulare Lake, named for the tule rush that lined its banks, was the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi and the second largest freshwater lake in the entire United States.

The 690-square-mile lake went dry after its tributary rivers were diverted for agricultural irrigation and municipal water uses. This late-1800s image shows workers in Tulare County drilling a water well with the help of a horse.

For more on this story, read Restoring the San Joaquin River and Recalling Its History.