Tracing the Course of Willow Creek History

June 6, 2013

Books, California, Events

“a marvelous blending of history and facts along with the warmth of personal interviews”–Susan Rappaport

In the heart of California, not far from Yosemite, Willow Creek rises at eight thousand feet in the Sierra Forest, crashing through narrow granite canyons and meandering through serene mountain passes on its journey to meet the San Joaquin River twenty-five miles below. The same creek moves through five powerhouses and flows into Bass Lake–where families gather in the summer to swim and boat and fish. For generations, logging roads and flumes carried loads alongside Willow Creek, and ranchers moved stock across the waters to mountain meadows.

Courtesy of the Henry Madden Library at California State University Fresno.

In her new book, Willow Creek History: Tales of Cow Camps, Shake Makers & Basket Weavers local author Marcia Penner Freedman traces the course of Willow Creek history where, today, hikers can walk the flumes, follow the penstocks that lead to the powerhouses, search the forest for siphons, and cool off in the waters of Willow Creek.

To read Tiffany Tuell’s Sierra Star article “Wonderful Willow Creek” about Freedman’s new book, follow this link.

Willow Creek Fall and Rocks

A lifelong hiker, backpacker, and camper, author Marcia Penner Freedman began collecting the history of Willow Creek and the region after moving to Oakhurst in 1999. Willow Creek History includes many of those stories, such as the below excerpt featuring the memories of cattle rancher Diane Bohna.

Diane was seven years old the first time she went on her father’s drive to the mountains. By the time she was eight she knew she wanted to manage her own cattle ranch, to summer in the Sierras and winter in the foothills.

“We would start out probably about four p.m. and drive the cattle into the night. Dad would usually choose a full moon. I remember driving the cattle along, and it’s surprising how the reflection off the drive made it illuminate and it would be like daylight. The only thing that made your hair curl I suppose is when you would hear a rattle snake, pddddd, – and the cattle would just spread.”–Willow Creek History

Courtesy Marcia Penner Freedman.

To hear more Willow Creek history, join Marcia at these upcoming author events:

Willow Creek History: Tales of Cow Camps, Shake Makers and Basket Weavers by Marcia Penner Freedman

Willow Creek History: Tales of Cow Camps, Shake Makers & Basket Weavers by Marcia Penner Freedman is available from the History Press and Madera County retailers, including Pines Market at Bass Lake, Fish Camp General Store, Oakhurst Giftworks, Slim’s Koffee Shak in North Fork, and Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad.

Visit for more information.

Related Posts:

West Branch Mill of the Sierra Lumber Co.

Squaw Valley & Alpine Meadows: Tales from Two Valleys

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