Billy Creek Guard Station Museum

Located on the shore of Huntington Lake, the Billy Creek Guard Station Museum is a three building complex loaded with history and interpretive displays ranging from the Monache or Western Mono Native American people and European pioneers, through the development of the hydroelectric project and the mystery surrounding the B-24 that was lost in Huntington Lake in 1943.

Huntington Lake and several other southern Sierra Nevada lakes were man-made as a result of massive building of a hydro-power system that, at the time, was only rivaled by the building of the Panama Canal. The ingenuity and sheer determination of men such as John Eastwood, David Redinger and Henry Huntington brought electrical power to the masses of Southern California.

In 1914 Gifford Pinchot, the first American-trained forester, commissioned Dr. Frank Waugh, landscape architect, to plan the placement of cabins, resorts, camps and campsites around Huntington Lake to reduce the visual impact to visitors and to add to the beauty of the lake.

The restored Billy Creek Museum opened to the public on July 20, 2001 and is managed by the Huntington Lake Big Creek Historical Conservancy.

Constructed in 1929 for $650, the Billy Creek Guard Station was the home of Orland Bartholomew who completed a trans-Sierra Nevada winter trip across the Sierra Nevada from Mount Whitney to Yosemite in 1928-29. He was the first US Forest Service ranger and served between 1932-1952.

Huntington Lake was named for Henry Edwards Huntington, the Southern California entrepreneur who financed the earliest work at the Big Creek-San Joaquin Hydroelectric Project. The lake was the first reservoir built in the project, which delivered electricity to southern California some 240 miles away.

In the displays, visitors can hear the whistles and feel the excitement of the Shay, "the little engine that could" and the Climax engines of the San Joaquin & Eastern Railroad (SJ&E) which made the dams, lakes and power stations possible that harness "the hardest working water in the world."  Kitchen, laundry, bath and camping displays from the 1920s and 30's can also be found. And you can learn more about the mystery of the B-24 Bomber that crashed into the lake on December 6, 1943 on a training mission for World War II that killed 6 crew members. The plane was not found until 1955. Some of the plane remains in the bottom of the lake.

The Historic Kaiser Diggings Forest Service building was moved 26 miles in 2008 as the latest museum addition and features a Kids Only room - no parents please, gift shop and exhibits which change yearly.

The Huntington Lake Big Creek Historical Conservancy maintains these historically significant buildings to educate the public about natural and native American history, to provide public interpretative facilities, and to preserve the tradition of the Huntington Lake Big Creek Hydroelectric System.

To visit the museum, please use California State Hwy 168 and travel up the mountains to the end at Huntington Lake, where it ends.Turn left onto Huntington Road , travel 5 1/2 miles until you see the Museum Sign, then park in front of the Museum on your left.

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Location

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Nearby
Latitude: 37.2516131 Longitude: -119.1744733 Elevation: 6962 ft
the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
eugene dunsmore

Seasons Open

July 4 - Labor Day

Hours Open

Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday; noon to 4pm

Fees

Free

Eco-Friendly Notes

The museum is located on U.S Forest Service lot in Sierra National Forest on Huntington Lake. The three structures are U.S. Forest Service buildings and inflict no harm to the local environment.

The museum docents practice resource conservation and promote environmental education and stewardship at every opportunity.

ADA Accessibility Notes

Not ADA accessible.  No bathrooms.

Pet Friendly Notes

Handicapped and seeing eye dogs welcome.

Comments

This is a great little museum but this year 2014 it will be closed due to the remodeling of the nearby billy creek campgrounds. Don't give up on it. Come back next year!!

Melinda sherry, 3/17/2014

Sorry to hear that the museum will not be open this season. I'll be sure to visit when it re-opens. Oh well, I can use the time while I'm waiting to try for those monster trout that hang out where Billy Creek enters the lake... Thanks for the timely info!

J. Onbarela, 10/20/2014

This museum reopened in 2015 and will be open in 2016. New displays are historic boat motors and cameras and video of a naval airplane lost in 1970 and rediscovered in 2012.

eugene dunsmore, 4/3/2016

We went to the Billy Creek Museum on 8-24-2016 and very much enjoyed our tour. The tour guides were friendly, helpful and informative. Much of yesterday's history effects us today, we learned!

Roxane, 8/25/2016

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