A Look Back in History: Proposed La Honda Reservoir

The following map features La Honda Creek running through some partially occupied land. While the map is undated, it is representing a proposed reservoir. The blue boundary of the featured land is inscribed with “Line of high water of proposed reservoir – elevation 455’ above H.T.” [H.T. is presumed to represent “high tide.”] The proposed dam is shown inside the black inked semi-triangle at the right of the map.

Map of proposed La Honda Reservoir.

La Honda Creek is a small river in San Mateo County. It flows about seven miles, from its source near Bear Gulch Road and Skyline Boulevard, to its confluence with Alpine Creek to form San Gregorio Creek in La Honda.

The creek was listed as Arroyo Ondo on several diseños on the Mexican land grants. A diseño was a rough map required to accompany land grant petitions made in Alta California prior to the Mexican-American War. In the later 1856 Rancho Cañada de Raymundo map, it is again cited as Arroyo Hondo. Hondo is Spanish for ‘deep.’

Detail showing the Sears[ville] Community at center of map.

Featured elements include: Hotel, Store, Stable, School House, Church and Farmhouses; Woodham’s Dairy is depicted near the top of the frame; the Road and La Honda Creek are also clearly identified.

Searsville was a lumberjack settlement of a hundred or more people and the heart of a robust logging industry. This bustling town had the Eikerenkotter’s Hotel, a blacksmith shop, a post office, a school, saloons, dwellings and a store called the Searsville Exchange. When the sawmills ran out of timber, the town died down.

Eikerenkotter’s Hotel and Store.

In 1887 the land, including the town was sold to Spring Valley Water Works and they created the Searsville Dam, completed in 1892. The land of the former township of Searsville was thus flooded. The water behind the dam became heavily silted and thus unpotable. So, starting in 1922, the lake was used as a local swimming hole. For decades local families would swim and boat on the lake. But, in 1975, Stanford University closed the lake to the public when making it part of the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve. From wilderness to preserve, with footsteps in between.