Memory Lane Blog Winner – Memories from 1955

Congratulations to William Stoughton for winning the drawing, and thank you for sharing these memories with all of us!

“My name is William Stoughton.

In 1955 my dad was the reservoir keeper at Lake Eleanor. What a year that was. The year of 1955. We had a monster rain storm which caused the Yuba City flood. The reservoir overflowed. Below the dam we had a Chrysler Motor that acted as a generator for our electricity. When the dam could not hold any more water and overran, the water washed away the power plant and also all the water pipes that sent water to our house. So we were with out electricity and water all winter until the following spring.

Also a bear broke in our house while we went to Groveland for groceries. When We came back to Lake Eleanor, which is about a 3 hour ride from Groveland, the bear had broken in and ate our ham that was cooling and ate all our sugar and anything he could find.

At that time fishing was not allowed at Lake Eleanor, but because my dad was the Reservoir Keeper and we lived there, we fished for our food. Every time you casted into the lake you would catch a 12 to 15 inch Rainbow Trout.

Note my 1939 buick in the background. That is the car I learned to drive on.

My mom and dad spent the winter of ’56 snowed in with no power. The City of San Francisco could not get in until spring. In those days the only road to Lake Eleanor was the switchback from Hetch Hetchy dam to Lake Eleanor. If you have ever been to O’Shaughnessy Dam you will see the tunnel on the other side of the dam. We would drive through there and go straight up the side of the mountain. There were about 7 or 8 switchbacks to get to the top. Then you would go through Miguel Meadows and and drop down to Lake Eleanor.During the winter of ’55 I stayed in Redwood City in order to go to High School, but my little sister and brother were self taught by my mom. I still have a long letter that my mom wrote to us kids describing all the events of our time at Lake Eleanor. After a year my father transferred to the Priest Reservoir on the top of Priest Grade and eventually to Lake Merced Reservoir in San Francisco.

Just thought I would tell you a little about our time there at Lake Eleanor. I could almost write a book of all the things that happened. But my most fun time was in the summer of 1956. I got a job working for Mr. Martin Murphy and his wife who owned the lease on the Camp Store at Camp Mather.  He provided me with a tent to live in. What a happy summer that was.

That is where I met Jack Garrison and his wife. I will always remember the dance patio he had and how nice it was out there on the warm summer nights. I used to go up to Evergreen Lodge after work and have a soda or something and talk with Jack and his wife and listen to music, and I learned to dance there. I was only 16 but it was lots of fun for me. I remember dancing to songs like “Love Letters in the Sand,” with a young lady that was staying at Camp Mather with her parents. I can not believe that about 58 years have passed by. But I will always remember that period of my life.

Later when I was 22 I started my career by taking a San Francisco exam and getting hired at Mocassin as a permanent worker. Sometimes the head of Mocassin, Jack Woods, called me in and sent me to Hetch Hetchy dam, and every time I went by Camp Mather I thought of Jack Garrison.

Also my Uncle Frank Lucibello, who was a City of San Francisco ambulance driver, would be assigned to Camp Mather for the summer, and I would visit him there.

So I have many good memories of our time living at Lake Eleanor in 1955,and visiting Evergreen Lodge.”


William Stoughton

Stoughton's and Shep on Lake Eleanor Dam 1955
William Stoughton Lake Eleanor 1955
Birch Lake Horse Riding 1955
Lake Eleanor 1955
Stoughtons Return to Lake Eleanor
William Stoughton