Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Una Lake, Palmdale, California


Lake Una, located south of the City of Palmdale and immediately east of the reservoir Lake Palmdale, is a small lake or pond. Although the presence of such a body of water is remarkable within the arid desert environment, it appears otherwise uninteresting on first seeing it's placid water and rather typical local vegetation.

But, of course, it has it's stories. It is said that people approaching the lake at night have encountered a dark figure in clothing that appeared to be a fisherman's, telling them in slurred speech to leave the area. People have also reported seeing dark figures climbing into the trees and vanishing at night.



In addition to these ghostly phenomenon, some locals tell of a strange creature - never described - that sometimes emerges from the lake to devour whatever animals it can lay hand (um...teeth?) on. The lake is reputed to be bottomless, and it has been claimed that at least one diver has vanished while looking for the bottom, and that bodies of murder victims have been dumped in the lake never to be seen again. One story even holds that a school buss once ran off of the Sierra Highway (immediately adjacent to the lake) and neither it nor the driver or children in it were ever found.

Should you wish to enter the property, it is fenced off and private security has been known to patrol the area. So, this is one that is best viewed from afar.

Commentary: This is one of those entries that illustrates both why Shadowlands is simultaneously a wonderful and a terrible website for ghost story enthusiasts. This website contains the simple description: "Ghost of a fisherman has been reported to lash out, slurring viciously, ordering them to leave, also tales of black figures climbing into the trees and vanishing" complete with the weird phrasing and grammar. As I understand it, the webmaster of Shadowlands doesn't create these descriptions, but rather posts what is sent in. On the one hand, this allows us to quickly find ghost stories for most towns in the United States (as well as a few other countries), on the other hand the stories are often so brief, garbled, and confused that it can be difficult to do anything with them. So it goes.

Because Shadowlands is so useful for locating ghost stories, entries on the site are often simply copied and pasted into other websites, so if you go looking for Una Lake ghost stories online, you'll usually find a direct copy of the above-quoted sentence. Again I have to wonder if our reliance on the internet isn't a double-edged sword, allowing more access to stories, but also freezing them in (often lame and inane) forms rather than allowing them to grow and warp as folklore should.

Okay, so a bit o' science: Una Lake is what is called a rift lake or a sag pond (yes, there are technical differences between them, but I have been unable to find out which one best describes Una Lake). It sits on the San Andreas Fault, in a depression caused by the movement of the fault. Nearby Lake Palmdale (nearby as in "across the street") is in a similar basin, where a small natural lake has been turned into a larger reservoir (edited to add: the 1915 USGS topographic map for the location shows Lake Palmdale labeled as Una Lake, with the part now known as Una Lake being the eastern extent, cut off from the rest by the railroad, which appears to have been built on fill soils - so much for the bottomless lake, and thanks to one of the commenters below for pointing me to this map). A bit to the west, Lake Elizabeth is in a similar geologic formation. There has been a small lake within what is now Lake Palmdale for centuries, and it appears that Una Lake was part of this larger body. Regardless, the alleged depth of the lake may be due to it being on the fault and potentially between two cliffs....or it may be complete nonsense, I have been unable to find a reliable source of the lake's actual depth.

Neat!

Incidentally, my favorite entry from the comments on one of the "illustrious internet" entries in the sources below comes after a description of a cross erected near the lake that supposedly commemorates a murder victim. The commenter simply states "i broke that guys cross off nd threw it in the lake" (sic). Nobody feeds the troll, which is a shame, as it would likely have been hilarious.

Sources: Local Folklore, All Voices, The Illustrious Internet, My AV Online, More from the Illustrious Internet, Shadowlands

14 comments:

  1. Does anyone reply to this? I'd love to get more info on Una Lake. Looking for something scary for Halloween!

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    1. Una Lake is the lake that was there originally. The rail road was built across the narrow neck of that lake isolaing it from the rest. This can be seen on http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/california/txu-pclmaps-topo-ca-elizabeth_lake-1915.jpg the 1915 Elizabeth Lake topographical map. In the 1920's the dam was built and its reservoir flooded the old lake to the west and it was renamed. The remaining Una Lake is the only remaining fragment of the original Lake.
      Asiaticus asiaticus@juno.com

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    2. So it is - I should have checked the old USGS quads, but thank you for providing the information.

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  2. I have not seen anything further. But if you manage to find more information, please post it in the comments here.

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  3. I manage Una Lake

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    1. I am a friend of and have been the attorney for the owner of Una Lake. I have toured the lake and taken soundings, It is nominally 26 feet deep.

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  4. To 'anonymous' above, who stated that he "manages Uma Lake: Can you say more about Uma Lake. What is its depth? Do you know of any unusual events or qualities regarding Uma Lake?

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  5. Una lake tours should be done

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  6. Una lake should be open for the one's who want to experience something scary !!

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    1. Yes!! I agree =) Enter at your own risk.

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  7. do you have any more stories from Palmdale, Lake LA, or anywhere in the Antelope Valley?

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    1. None that I am prepared to post here (I like to be able to do some degree of research, which takes time that is often in short supply for me these days). If you have a story that you would like to see here, please email me with the information. It may take me a while to get the proper information to post it, but that would get me started.

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  8. I been there when there was no fence.Many many years ago a diesel crashed into the lake and when the tow company went to retrieve it ,it was gone so than they put scuba divers into the lake and could not find it .They discovered that it was deep with a suction motion to it.So than scientist was sent to the site and discovered that the lake was bottomlest,from than on other stories developed through time.Now what I saw many years ago jump into the lake was some kind of creature with a long a very long tail it jump so fast .I was by there when I heard a loud woosh sound with air movement I turned quickly just to see a long tale about 20 feet long and dust in the air before it jump in to the lake.Right by there was a lot of rabbit carcasses.So yes I know that area very well.There actually was a old man that lived in a house on the site for many years and his wife.I talked to him like 35 years ago and he said that this was his father land and he promise to watch the lake and keep out people to protect the lake and keep people from drowning.The guy had a rifle and would fire warning shots to stay away.Cops would be called at times.Than one day the house burned down .Than he lived in made shift tents.When palmdale started developing to many people going to the lake the old man shooting off his gun the cops chased him off and fence off the lake and did not let anyone back there.I was so lucky to have talked to him and boy I learned alot.

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    1. Thank you for posting this Matthew. That's really interesting! :)

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