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HISTORY OF WATANDA                                                                    Reservations (707) 322-0945
Watanda is located on a small 15-acre reservoir, built in 1896 and used to develop a with
Tregidgo, John Martin, Romilus Colgate and other pioneers, gave their energy and risked their years
height of the current dam which was built in 1928(?)

In 1926 the Physical Education Department of Mills College, Oakland, offered courses in camp
leadership which became an approved program of the Camp Directors Association. In 1927 William
H Griffith, of Nevada City and Clarence J. Wetmore heard that Mills College in Oakland was looking
for a summer camping site with waterfront property. Shortly after that, Mills College became the
owner of the property surrounding Lake Vera, and the “Pioneer Camping for Girls” was born and
established at Camp Gold Hollow. According to the deed recorded December 7, 1927, W. H. Griffith
and F. M. Ray became the owners of the property known as Mills College Grove with the stipulation
that it be used as camps for girls and states that it cannot be used for “saloons, gambling, dance
halls, boys or mens camp or auto camp purposes; and that no malt, vinous, alcoholic or intoxicating
liquors shall be manufactured".

The major history of the area began in 1850 with Alfred T Jackson and his friend Pard Anderson who
panned, flumed and rocked about $14,000  in gold per year from Rock Creek, other miners on Brush
Creek took in $100 per day in gold. The land on which Camp Gold Hollow and Camp Watanda
stands was mined by the 49er’s and Chinese, and then later remined. Damming Rock Creek and
Brush Creek originally formed Lake Vera creating hydroelectric power used for mining. Several
gullies dot the area were built by miners to increase the water pressure from the reservoir.

In 1934 the Piedmont Girls Community Services Inc. of Alameda became the new owners of Camp
Watanda in a division of the lake properties to various organizations serving girls. In 1939 the City of
Alameda received its charter as a Camp Fire Council. In 1955, 44 acres was purchased by Camp
Fire from the now defunct Piedmont Girls Community Services (Harris A. Ray) for $5,363.68. The
estate of Judge Otis and Ester Scott Crooks, plus substantial gifts and proceeds from candy sales
provided the funds to purchase the property and improvements and facilities to open the camp for
the first time in 1956 to accommodate 30 campers and staff, for a total investment of $14,876.50. In
that first year, the councilmen cleared trees for roads, built 3 living platforms or “kiosks”, a kitchen
and dining platform, sanitary unit consisting of three flush toilets and three showers, beach for
waterfront activities, and provided water and power to the site. Since that first year, the Health Hut has
been added, a tool shed under the dining hall, a kiosk (1967) plus the counselor’s retreat and
director’s cabin.

About 1992 the kiosks were all rebuilt and named after donors and volunteers who worked on the
platforms, Marley, Caseywood, Gallup, and Volunteers. During the 1970's Sunshine Charter school
used this site and in the late 80’s and 90’s, a successful Day Camp was operated by Camp Fire for
the local community.

In 1998 the Alameda-Contra Costa Council of Camp Fire merged with the Columbia Park Boys and
Girls Club, thereby taking ownership of Camp Watanda. The camp was too small for the needs of
the Boys and Girls Club and sat dormant until privately purchased by John and Kathryn McNitt in
December of 2002.
Condsider
Watanda at Lake
Vera  
for a romantic
weekend or your
next family
vacation
at Lake Vera
Nevada City,
California