Wednesday, 12 June 2024

Lake County celebrates 149th anniversary of founding Thursday

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A view of Lake County from the top of Mt. Konocti taken by photographer Ron Keas of Lucerne, Calif., on Thursday, May 13, 2010.






LAKE COUNTY – Thursday marks a special day for Lake County – the 149th anniversary of its founding.


On May 20, 1861, California's seventh governor, John Downey, approved the act organizing Lake County, which was formed from land taken from Mendocino, Napa and Colusa counties, according to the 1881 edition of the “History of Napa and Lake Counties.”


With Clear Lake – believed to be 2.5 million years old, which may make it North America's oldest lake – and Mt. Konocti at its center, Lake County has a land area of 1,327 square miles, according to county officials. It currently is estimated to have about 65,000 residents, according to the US Census Bureau.


On the first Monday in June 1861, the county held its first election to organize its county government, with Lakeport chosen as the county seat, the history explained.


A two-story, clapboard wooden courthouse was built in downtown Lakeport, which local historian Donna Howard said burned down – likely because of arson – in 1867 and was replaced with the building today known as the Courthouse Museum.


To put Lake County's founding in historical perspective, the county came into being in the same year as the Civil War broke out. Earlier in the year, the Confederate States began to form and Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as the 16th president of the United States.


Also on May 20, 1861, North Carolina became the last state to secede from the United States, according to the online North Carolina Museum of History.


Lake County once had been known as the Hot Springs Township of Napa County. Howard thinks a new county may have been formed due to expediency and convenience.


If anyone had to conduct legal business, they had to go all the way to Napa which, in the 1800s, “was a long trip,” Howard pointed out.


Lake County's sesquicentennial will take place next year.


Lake County Deputy Administrative Officer Debra Sommerfield, who heads the county's marketing department, said the county is looking at organizing events to mark the 150th anniversary next year.


Budgets currently are tight, but Sommerfield noted, “We definitely would like to do something in celebration.”


More details about Lake County's history can be found at www.lakecounty.com.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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