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Little Lake, Inyo County, California

Little Lake is a former settlement in Inyo County that lies just off U.S. Route 395 on Little Lake Road.

Little Lake
Former settlement
Little Lake is located in California
Little Lake
Little Lake
Location in California
Coordinates: 35°56′12″N 117°54′24″W / 35.93667°N 117.90667°W / 35.93667; -117.90667Coordinates: 35°56′12″N 117°54′24″W / 35.93667°N 117.90667°W / 35.93667; -117.90667
CountryUnited States
CountyInyo County
Elevation3,130 ft (954 m)


Little Lake was established largely as a traveler's stop along what eventually became US 395, after the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power dammed the site's eponymous landmark – once known as Owens Little Lake – as part of its work on the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1905.

While early on the town had a store, auto repair shop and gas station, its most famous landmark was its namesake, rock-faced hotel constructed in 1923.[2]

Little Lake was a necessary stop for travelers journeying up to the Eastern Sierra from Los Angeles for decades. In the 1920s, a trip from Los Angeles to a town such as Lone Pine might take 2 or 3 days necessitating a stay at locations like Little Lake before continuing onwards.[3] In the 1940s, “sportsman traffic heading northward along US 395 considered Little Lake an important stop to spray cooling water on boiling radiators, feed hungry stomachs or to get gasoline.”[3]

The Little Lake Hotel in the 1950s


As technology improved, travelers no longer needed to stop as often for rest and supplies. By the 1960s travelers could easily go from Los Angeles to locations in the Eastern Sierra with little more than brief stops for gas. With these improvements small settlements like Bramlette, named after the founder and later renamed Little Lake, became increasingly obsolete.[3] In the early 1960s, US 395 was realigned. As a result, the former alignment that Little Lake was built on became a frontage road known as Little Lake Road, and the need to access it by leaving US 395 eventually spelled the demise of local businesses. In 1981, with Little Lake's population at 52 residents, Southern Pacific's "Slim Princess" Narrow Gauge Railroad that passed Little Lake had already long been abandoned and the rails were permanently removed.[4] The Little Lake Hotel, which had evolved into an apartment building for local residents, burned in 1989 and was never rebuilt.[2] In 1997, the United States Postal Service ended service at Little Lake, and by the early 2000s Little Lake Road, building foundations, off ramps and even its road signs were bulldozed into oblivion and hauled away.

Current StateEdit

Little Lake, Inyo County, California

Though it remains properly marked as a geographic location on a few maps, the entire townsite had been restored to its natural state by the summer of 2001. The little lake, for which the town was named, is all that remains.[5][3]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Little Lake, Inyo County, California
  2. ^ a b Speck, Gary B. (5 June 2010). "Gone, But Not Forgotten: Little Lake, Inyo County, CA". Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d wshawkins (16 December 2013). "Little Lake". Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  4. ^ Palmer, Mike (26 June 2010). "Abandoned Rails: The Lone Pine Branch". Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  5. ^ Ross, Kelley L. (2010). "Recollections of Little Lake, California". Retrieved 30 April 2014.