Big Creek, CA
Big Creek (Big Creek Flats in the 1870s; Manzanita Park in 1902; until 1926, Cascada) is a small census-designated place in Fresno County, California located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the north bank of Big Creek. It lies at an elevation of 4984 feet (1519 m). Its population is 175. The ZIP Code is 93605, and the community is inside area code 559.
Big Creek was built at the site of the first dam and power plant of Southern California Edison's Big Creek hydroelectric project, one of the most extensive in the world. Other than the private helipad owned by Southern California Edison, the only way in or out of the town is Big Creek Road, off of State Route 168. The dam has a walkway across it to the south bank, but access is limited to employees of SCE and those residents who have been given a key. Its major industries are electric power generation and tourism. There is camping and water recreation in the summer and snow skiing in the winter. Huntington Lake is to the northeast and Shaver Lake is to the south. Sierra Summit is only about 15 kilometers (9 miles) away. Though Big Creek's only school is an elementary, it teaches kindergarten through 8th grade.
Big Creek has a rich and interesting history. Those who reside in Big Creek have many interesting tales of the town and its surroundings. For example, some of the giant steel pipes that carry water from Huntington Lake to the hydroelectric plant, visible running down the mountainside, were purchased from the Krupp Works in Nazi Germany before the United States entered World War II. Some of these penstocks are stamped with a swastika. Most of the swastikas are turned to face into the ground, out of sight; however, a few of them are still visible. In addition, Big Creek is the hometown of Carver Mead, a Caltech electrical engineering professor who is responsible for developing the first GaAs MESFET and for his pioneering contributions to VLSI design.