Out of the Lake: Old Highway 178 and the town of Isabella

Long before the Isabella Reservoir was built in the 1950’s, State Highway 178 passed through the Kern River Valley on an alignment much different than it is today.

With the current drought, Lake Isabella is a puddle of what it used to be…but it’s amazing what the lake has hidden all these years.  The lake has not been this low since 1977 and is the second lowest level since the dams were finished in 1953.

In April, I took two trips back to the areas near where the original towns of Isabella and Kernville stood before the lake covered them and their history.  Unfortunately during my visit, the actual townsite of Isabella was still under several feet of water but the remains of the trees that use to shade the town are clearly visable sticking out of the lake in several photos.

Map to April 2014 photos

Pre-Lake Isabella Alignment 2.1_Page_1b

location 1
Location 1


Location 2 – Notice the high water mark
location 2
location 3


Location 3 - Kissack Cove
Location 4 – Kissack Cove


Location 4 - Paradise Cove
Location 5


Location 6
Location 6


Location 7 – 1940
Location 7 – 2014


Location 8 - 1940
Location 8 – 1940
Location 8 - 2014
Location 8 – 2014
Location 8 -2014


A sign of the times.
A sign of the times…very dry indeed.
Isabella Auxiliary Dam 2014. Eerie to drive at the base of the dam when there should be 50 feet deep water here!


Thanks to Joel Windmiller for his assistance and historical photos of Old Isabella.


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