Mystery of the disappearing pond may finally yield to detective work — And it may not be what the conspiracy theories would have you think

  • [photo by Patric Hedlund, The Mountain Enterprise]

    [photo by Patric Hedlund, The Mountain Enterprise]

By Patric Hedlund, and the TME Team—  Part Two

A meeting with Kern County about submitting a grant to revitalize Frazier Mountain Park, and possibly its pond, will be held at the Frazier Mountain Park Community Center on Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 6:30 p.m. Everyone is invited to join in and share their ideas and vision for the future of the park.

The Mountain Enterprise has been running a two part series to look into the history of the founding of the Mountain Communities around Frazier Mountain Park and its ponds.


A team of fact-finders gathered informally in 2016, determined to learn what was—and what wasn’t—responsible for the disappearance of the Frazier Mountain Park pond.

While theories always abound on social media, others were looking into the history of the ponds and learning more about the history of water in this area.

Early on, Cliff Carlisle, Drew Lesso, Richard Sheffield and Russ Siebers—caretaker at that time for Frazier Mountain Park—took a walk with The Mountain Enterprise to investigate the state of the springs that historically fed the pond.

In Part One last week, we published a report about the quest to locate historical records regarding the six spring-fed ponds which once dotted the area now used for …(please see below to view full stories and photographs)

Photo captions:

This ad hoc Frazier Mountain Park Pond Brain Trust came together with The Mountain Enterprise (l-r) park caretaker Russ Siebers, co-founder of the Fiesta Days Fishing Derby Cliff Carlisle, Richard Sheffield of Lake of the Woods and Drew Lesso of Lebec to brainstorm about constructive steps to take to save the pond. They were also helping to reconstruct the history of the pond’s water supply.

In 2016 Cliff Carlisle (a pipeline contractor) and Richard Sheffield show The Mountain Enterprise the pipe that runs into the west side of the pond, which used to carry spring water from the meadow.

Left: Local historian Bonnie Kane looked over vital documents in 2019 to understand water flow and water rights disputes in this area. Jim Kane (center) and Mike Parker (right) are both former Frazier Park water board members. Parker had useful information about the 1994 loss of water from the pond.

Above: 1927 and 1957 legal filings were a major breakthrough to understand the historic flow of water in Frazier Mountain Park.

A natural ciénega ‘spring’ was tapped in 1994 to supply the pond with water…but a coating was also put on the bottom of the pond in 1957, in a process called ‘mudding,’ to help it retain water .

The pond has always been part of a managed system

Left: An August 5, 1994, news article from The Mountain Enterprise describes, “a great deal of public concern…because the water level in the pond had been getting lower and lower…” The Frazier Park Public Utility District sent its employees to the park to fix the problem. And fix it they did. Right: A November 1957 photo, taken shortly after Kern County finally acquired the park and dredged the pond. The workers are “mudding” the bottom of the pond with a coating (perhaps such as bentonite) because this lake “wouldn’t hold water.” After that, it held water until 2016.

May 30, 1957: There’s Trout in That Lake—760 rainbow trout were planted in the lake at the new Kern County Park in Frazier Park. Fishing was permitted on June 1. Overseeing the unloading of the trout are William Fox, Supervisor Vance Web and Bill Fredericks, park attendant. A limit of five fish was set.

Fiesta Days Fishing Derby 2013

Fiesta Days Dry Pond Derby 2018

Left: The peaceful pond at the heart of the community. Right: In 2018 Stan McCuen created fish and geese sculptures to remind people of their loss.

Left: Frazier Mountain Community members gathered in April 2019 for a ceremony to celebrate the spirit of the pond.

Far Left: On the banks of what was the little jewel at the heart of our mountain town, Chumash shaman David Paul Dominguez performed the dolphin dance to call the spirit of the water, “lots of water, lots of snow,” back to this place that was being mourned, celebrated and remembered that day. Frazier Mountain Park is an ancient Chumash campground.

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This is part of the September 10, 2021 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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