Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures
Warren Dorn at Castaic Lake Afterbay Opening
Castaic, California

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Monday, May 22, 1972 — Like Washington crossing the Delaware (sayeth The Signal) — but not exactly dressed for the occasion — 5th District L.A. County Supervisor Warren Dorn (in office 1956-1972) stands up in a harbor patrol boat as it arrives for the opening of the afterbay to recreational use at the DWR Castaic Lake reservoir. Not to be outdone, Dorn's father, Walter Dorn — a Green Valley resident (upper Bouquet Canyon) and retired forest ranger who used to patrol the area — stands behind him.

The first recreationists at Castaic Lake were Station 73 L.A. County Fire Capt. and Mrs. Edward French when they launched their sailboat onto the afterbay at 9:23 a.m.

The upper (main) lake opened for swimming and boating on June 26, and for fishing a bit later.

Photo: The Signal

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Boats, Beaches, Politicians Come Alive at Castaic.

At 9:23 a.m. Monday, Captain Edward French of Newhall's Fire Station 73 and his wife enjoyed a day off by splashing their eight-foot sailboat into the water at the Castaic Afterbay.

The Frenches thus became the first recreational users of the 180-acre lake which is expected to become a refuge for hundreds of thousands of Los Angeles residents.

The widespread appeal of the afterbay was easily illustrated when the second arrivals, the Reid Pitzers, launched their canoe. The Pitzers had driven to Castaic from Long Beach.

The afterbay at the foot of the towering Castaic dam looked more like a desert water hole than the Garden of Eden. Its shores are largely recently bulldozed earth, a few spots of which were sprinkled with heavy black oil to allow parking for the Monday dedication ceremonies.

The pool will be open all summer for use by non-motorized boats. It will be closed September 30 for installation of landscaping and sewers, and may or may not be open next summer.

At 11 a.m. Monday an assortment of local citizens, school children from Castaic (joyously waving American flags) and county officials had gathered at the top of the boat ramp where earlier the Frenches had launched.

From the upper end of the afterbay came the only motorized boat allowed on the bay, the Harbor Patrol boat which will be responsible for water safety.

In the prow, like George Washington crossing the Delaware, was Supervisor Warren Dorn. Behind him were his parents, the Walter Dorns of Green Valley. The senior Dorn wore the khakis and hat of a forest ranger, a job that he held until his retirement.

The Canyon high school band, in full green uniforms and busbys, played energetically for a half hour until a helicopter descended from the skies and landed Parks and Recreation Director Norman Johnson, master of ceremonies for the dedication.

Johnson introduced some 15 people present (school superintendents, Chamber of Commerce presidents, law enforcement officials) and yielded the platform to Dorn, described as "the one man who insisted that recreation be made a part of the State Water Plan bond issue."

Dorn commented that his recognition of the area's need for recreation came from a visit some years ago to Santa Barbara's Cachuma reservoir on a Thursday preceding a Memorial Day weekend.

"The campgrounds were completely filled," he said. "No one else could get in. And we checked the register; 93 percent were from Los Angeles county."

At the conclusion of the ceremonies, Johnson announced, "You will all be welcome for free refreshments — free today only — at the swimming area on the other side of the lake."

Several cars drove around to the upper west end of the lake, where they parked in another freshly oiled area. At the lake's edge, below, two huge sand beaches bordered float-protected swimming areas, complete with lifeguard stations. Two swimmers splashed; a guest took off her shoes and waded in, pronouncing the water "nice and warm."

The only hitch in the day's proceedings came when the girls in the refreshment trailer said, "We never heard of anything FREE. You pay, here." About 45 minutes later, as people munched hot dogs and drank cokes (paid for), the stand's boss came down the hill, grumpily.

"Free coffee and doughnuts. That's it," he said.

The main lake behind the dam will open to power boats on June 26 and will be open to fishing beginning July 1.

* * *

Lead photo caption: Capt. and Ms. Edward French become the first to enjoy Castaic's quiet boating lake as they unload "Sabotage," stepped the mast, and set sail. not so quiet was the later arrival of Supervisor Warren Dorn aboard a harbor patrol boat. Dorn's father, Walter Dorn, who patrolled the area as a forest ranger before the dam was dreamed of, stands behind him.

SG7201: 9600 dpi jpeg from original 8x10 print, Signal Photo Archive.
("Castaic Lake")


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Dissolution of Santa Clarita Water Co.


Construction Starts 1966


Construction 1967-70 x10


Towner Mfg. Constrution Report 1969


Castaic Lake: 50-Year Operating Agreement 1969


Aerial 12/5/1970


Boat Launch 1972


Dorn at Afterbay Opening 5/22/1972


Dorn-Haddad 5/22/1972


Main Lake Opens 6/26/1972


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Huell Howser:
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Aqueduct Ruptures in AV, 1971

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