Billy Creek Guard Station Museum
Photo © Huntington Lake Big Creek Historical Conservancy
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.
Seasons Open: July 4 - Labor Day
Hours Open: Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday; noon to 4pm
Not ADA accessible. No bathrooms.
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.
Handicapped and seeing eye dogs welcome.