Lake Temescal is a small
lake in the northeastern hills section of Oakland,
It is the centerpiece of Temescal
(originally, Lake Temescal Regional Park).
It is part of the greater East Bay Regional Park
The lake received its name from the stream which is its source,
, which was dammed in
1868 to create a reservoir to provide drinking water for the
greater East Bay
by the Contra Costa Water Company, owned by Anthony Chabot
. Prior to being dammed, Lake
Temescal was a sag pond
, a depression
caused by the Hayward Fault
bulk of the manual labor of removing soil and digging to bedrock
was provided by Chinese immigrants
who probably immigrated to work to build the railroads. Herds of
were used to compact
the tons of dirt that were brought to create the dam. The dam is
long and wide and rises above the creek.
The shores of the lake were a popular camping spot with bohemian
artists and writers in the late 1800s. The British painter J.H.E.
Partington lived here in a tent with his family when they arrived
in Oakland in 1889.
During the first half of the 20th century, the tracks of the
along the eastern side of the lake. At that time, an electric train
called the Comet
crossed directly over the lake.
In 1936, Lake Temescal opened to the public as one of the first
three parks established by the East Bay Regional Park
. Its early amenities included a beach-like shore for
swimming, a boathouse built by the WPA
, a well established trail
around the lake, and numerous picnic benches.
Present day function
The lake currently supports an artificial recreational beach and is
stocked periodically with rainbow
, largemouth bass
, redear sunfish
, and catfish
park is open to all visitors from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. and receives
around 200,000 visitors a year.
The lake is constantly becoming shallower due to sediment runoff
and must be periodically dredged. Today it is approximately at its
deepest point; previously it was deep.
Since the dam crosses the Hayward
, there is a possibility of dam failure in the event of an
earthquake, which would cause serious flooding in parts of Oakland,
Berkeley, and Emeryville. However, due to the additional fill
placed between the dam and Highway 24, any hydraulic failure is now
firestorm, water-equipped helicopters refilled at Lake
Temescal, largely draining it.