News and Information
for residents and visitors
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam

  Celebrating 10 years:

March 1995 ~ March 2005

For the past decade,

The Kaweah Commonwealth

has been telling readers

things they won't read, hear,

or see anywhere else!


In the News - Friday, JUNE 17, 2005

Kaweah claims

visitor’s dog

   When Kathyrn Yarnell was in Three Rivers last weekend for her daughter’s wedding, she brought her beloved dog Tammy along for the ride. And why wouldn’t Tammy be invited? After all, Tammy, a 15-year-old, extremely devoted Australian shepherd was just like one of the family.
   In her golden years, Tammy had lost her hearing and most of her eyesight, but she still had an adventurous nature. Last Saturday, June 11, when someone inadvertently left the gate open in the yard at Gateway Lodge, Tammy headed down the road to check out the neighborhood.
   A short time after Tammy disappeared, Yarnell was frantic to find her missing best friend and companion. Later that day, a local resident spotted Tammy near the old Hammond fire station on Mineral King Road more than a mile down-canyon from the Gateway.

  “By Sunday, we still had no idea where she was,” Yarnell said. “We searched everywhere and passed out flyers all over town. When we drove home later that night, we still had hope that maybe somebody had found her and taken her in.”
   On Monday, Yarnell expanded the search via the Internet and received several offers to help, including one from the Best Friends Animal Society, based in Kanab, Utah. They contacted a network of animal lovers and offered some advice and local contacts who might be able to locate Tammy.
   On Monday afternoon, rafters who were on a trip with Kaweah White Water Adventures saw a dog matching Tammy’s description floating in the river in some vegetation near the shoreline behind the condominiums in Pumpkin Hollow. The rafters notified Glenn McIntyre, owner of the Gateway, who relayed the news to Yarnell at her home in Malibu.
   Nobody knows for certain what happened but it appears that Tammy was on her way back to the Gateway.

  “Tammy probably became thirsty, slipped on a rock and fell in,” Yarnell said. “Once she was in the water, she just couldn’t lift herself out of the strong current.”
   Yarnell said it seemed somehow appropriate that Tammy died in such a beautiful and spiritual place. Noah’s Friends Animal Sanctuary of Orange Cove made Tammy’s final arrangements and even offered to help Yarnell and her husband, Don, find a new dog when the time is right.

  “We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of all the caring people in Three Rivers,” Yarnell said. “We want to continue our connection with Three Rivers. It’s like a dream to find a place so beautiful and people so wonderful.”
   THE KAWEAH RIVER continued to prove it is treacherous territory when, on Tuesday, June 14, four teens attempted to raft the Middle Fork between North Fork Bridge and Three Rivers Golf Course without being accompanied by a professional guide or even wearing lifejackets. Although a 911 call was reportedly placed, all were able to get out of the water prior to the arrival of emergency assistance.

Lake Kaweah

reaches (new)

fill level

   Earlier this week, at an elevation of 714.5 feet above mean sea level, Lake Kaweah reached the highest level since its creation 43 years ago. All the extra acre-feet that are being stored translates in the basin to a 21-foot gain in elevation made possible by the recent construction of the largest fusegates on the planet.
   But even with all that beautiful water, Lake Kaweah is not actually filled to the brim. The current water level is a scant six inches from spilling over the fusegates.
   Phil Deffenbaugh, Lake Kaweah manager, said it is quite a sight to behold each morning as down-canyon winds cause water to spray over the six fusegates that make up the new spillway for Terminus Dam.
   Deffenbaugh and his dam-tenders are keeping a very tight control on water levels so engineers can check the dam and the new dike at the Best Western for seepage or any unexpected wet spots.

  “We’re able to maintain the level right where we want it because it’s easy to manage the snowmelt,” Deffenbaugh said. “Rainfall would be hard to manage because it comes in so fast.”
What it all means is that for the next few days, the average release at the dam will be just about equal to what’s flowing into the basin. The majority of that inflow comes from the Middle Fork of the Kaweah.
   Deffenbaugh said by the end of the weekend, water levels will begin to gradually drop as the outflow is increased.

  “So far everything is working just like it was designed to work,” Deffenbaugh said.
   The greater capacity will also mean a larger pool in winter when the lake traditionally becomes little more than a large puddle. Deffenbaugh said the new 12,500 acre-feet minimum pool will be enough water for winter recreation and will ensure good fishing in the off-season.

Local agencies

address issues

   At the Wednesday, June 15, quarterly meeting of the Three Rivers and Lemon Cove Business Association at St. Anthony Retreat, new officers and the board of directors were installed that included Jerry Harris of the River Inn as membership chairman. Harris told the gathering that he was disappointed that only 10 people had turned out at last April’s meeting so he formed a committee to get more community members involved.
   Harris credited Christy Wood and David McDermott for the roomful of people at the current meeting and the membership renewals that are coming in with regularity. Participation in the local business organization, which is now more than a decade old, is really starting to cook once again with enthusiasm, he said.
   Wayne Lance, Holiday Inn Express general manager, outgoing Business Association president, and the new board’s interim secretary, introduced Mark Tilchen, Sequoia Natural History Association executive director, as the new president (2005-2007). Tilchen deferred his remarks so several speakers could furnish updates on tourism issues and the current season’s business outlook.
   ALLEN ISHIDA, county supervisor, said that there will be lots of positive changes in county government, and its many departments will become more efficient. Connie Conway, the current chairperson of the Board of Supervisors, did something unprecedented, he said, by asking each department to produce a business plan.
   One piece of legislation that would have designated portions of Sierra Drive in Three Rivers as a scenic highway has been tabled, Ishida said, but the proposal could be revisited in the county’s general plan process.
   ALEXANDRA PICAVET, the public information officer for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, said no road construction is currently being undertaken on the Generals Highway. The relocation of the General Sherman Tree parking area is proceeding and should be completed by next summer.
   There is also discussion, Picavet said, relative to raising the parks’ entrance fee to $20 per vehicle from the current $10. If approved, the new fees would go into effect in 2006. The revenue would be earmarked to pay for a new Giant Forest shuttle.
   Annual passes would not be increased from $30 so most local users would not be affected, Picavet said. Mineral King will be getting a new “iron ranger” in a couple of months at Lookout Point where visitors will able to make an electronic payment for an entrance fee.
   Crystal Cave, which is the parks’ number one “paid attraction” with 60,000 annual visitors, has recently undergone extensive trail restoration work. The on-going work being done by volunteers is exposing some incredible formations, Picavet said.
   PHIL DEFFENBAUGH, Lake Kaweah manager, said rangers and staff survived the busy Memorial Day weekend with limited facilities.

  “Lemon Hill on Memorial Day was probably not the best place to be, but a lot of people were there,” Deffenbaugh said. “Next year, come high water, we won’t have the same problems because we expect to have a new boat ramp and more parking at Slick Rock.”
   STEVE LARSON, resource manager, spoke on behalf of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Larson said the agency’s local focus would remain the collection of fees at the North Fork sites and the reduction of visitor use at the popular riverside sites.

  “I was at Cherry Falls on Memorial Day and was certainly glad that I was with a law enforcement ranger,” Larson said. “There were some scary looking individuals out there.”
   The North Fork recreation sites have a notorious reputation for criminal activity and are a known hangout for Valley gang members. Larson said the fee program and the stepped-up enforcement have really helped.
   BILL TIDWELL, on behalf of the Three Rivers Memorial District, thanked the gathering for their support in the recent election. He said some of the repairs to the Memorial Building that the board is considering include upgrading the electrical system and replacing the worn-out flooring.
   MARK TILCHEN, incoming Business Association president, concluded the meeting by introducing plans to produce a new, more comprehensive brochure that is intended to promote Three Rivers.

  “I think by everyone working together we can really enhance tourism,” Tilchen said. “If we do it right, we can help the business community and still preserve the unique quality of our town.”

Foothills burns

planned in

Sequoia NP

   During the next few weeks, National Park Service fire crews will be undertaking hazard-fuel reduction projects in the vicinity of the Ash Mountain parks headquarters and Hospital Rock picnic area in Sequoia National Park. In addition to igniting prescribed fires, the project includes mechanical treatments such as the cutting of brush and weeds.
   The overall project consists of 11 segments, averaging one to two acres, in the six-mile section between the Sequoia Park entrance station (elevation 1,500 feet) and Hospital Rock (elevation 2,700 feet).
   Each of the segments are located near park buildings, residences, and high-use picnic areas. Reducing hazard fuel in these areas is a fire-prevention technique that will deter the spread of accidental fire.
   Ignitions will occur when conditions are favorable and will be coordinated with the Sam Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. In all segments, the ground fuel is dried grass and scattered brush.
   For more information about this or other upcoming burn projects, visit:

Valley events

offer free lunch

and laughs

   Two events scheduled for next week in Visalia will include something for everyone.
   Conference for and about senior citizens— According to Sarah Shena of Three Rivers, an attorney for Tulare County, all those interested in the welfare of seniors or vulnerable adults are invited to participate in a free conference on Thursday, June 23, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the Lampliter Inn, 3300 Mineral King Ave., Visalia. The event will include several speakers, roundtable discussions, and more to address a dozen or more important issues. Entitled “Serving and Protecting Seniors and Vulnerable Adults,” Sarah will speak about elder-abuse prevention methods.
   There will be several other speakers throughout the day, and the keynote speaker is Dr. Linda J. Hewett, co-director and neuropsychologist from UCSF/Fresno Alzheimer’s and Memory Center.
   All those in attendance will receive a free continental breakfast and lunch. Space is limited, so call 730-2553 to register.
   Comedy tour stops at Visalia church— Jarrod McClintick, who was raised in Three Rivers, is making quite a name for himself on the comedy circuit. And he is guaranteeing that you will “laugh your face off” if you attend one or both of his performances on Saturday, June 25, at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., at the New Hope Christian Church, 2800 W. Walnut Ave., Visalia.
   Jarrod, 22, performs under the name of “Jarrod Mac” and is currently one of the youngest, regularly performing, professional comedy/magic entertainers. He has traveled the nation performing via television, radio, comedy clubs, theaters, universities, yacht cruises, corporate events, and churches.
   He will treat his audience to an evening of comedy and magic during “The Upside-Down Comedy Tour.” The event will provide a hilarious evening of entertainment to all who attend — singles, couples, and families.
   Advance tickets are available at a discount — $10 or a package of four tickets for $32 (available at Visalia Christian Supply or New Hope church).
   Tickets will also be available at the door — $12 or a package of four tickets for $40. Senior citizen tickets are always $8.
For information about the show, call (877) COMEDY-2. For driving directions, call 636-8733.

Edward Edwardsen,

Three Rivers native,

seaman, artist
1936 ~ 2005
   Edward Edwardsen died Tuesday, May 24, 2005, in a Palo Alto hospital after a long battle with cancer. He was 69.

  “Captain Ed,” as he was known to his friends, was born in Three Rivers on Jan. 18, 1936, to Edward and Marie Edwardsen. He was the third of four children.
   He graduated from Woodlake High School and served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War before receiving an honorable discharge.
   Ed was best known for his colorful stories, his sense of humor, and his heart of gold. From an early age, he enjoyed fishing; in the Kaweah River as a young boy and, later, deep-sea fishing on the Central Coast.
   He was well known and highly respected in the fishing community and known to all as “The Mighty Captain Ed.” He always had a joke at the ready to make his friends laugh, a kind word for a stranger, and plenty of advice for the new fisherman.
   Needless to say, he told his share of fishing tales, however, with Captain Ed, most of them were true.
   Ed was also a very creative man, adept at woodworking, carving, and painting. He loved making pieces of art for his family and friends, most of which had a maritime theme.
   Ed was preceded in death by his wife, Emma; his parents; brother Charles; and nephew Mark Edwardsen.
   He is survived by his daughter, Laura Juergens of Menlo Park; sons Anthony Edwardsen of Colorado and John Rocha of Visalia; sisters Christina Edwardsen of Visalia and Betty Kilburn of Woodlake; nieces Ann Kilburn Baker of Davis, Lisa Kilburn-Maino of San Luis Obispo; nephew David Kilburn of Atascadero; grandchildren Brett Rocha and Brandy Wilson of Visalia, Derek Juergens of Oregon, Alexa Lockwood of Palo Alto; and four great-grandchildren.
   There will be private memorial services at sea.
   The family requests that any donations in Ed’s name be made to the American Cancer Society (download a form at: and mail to: American Cancer Society, ATTN: Web, P.O. Box 102454, Atlanta, GA 30368-2454).





Three Rivers

way station

   In September 1890, Sequoia National Park was created and this allowed the opportunity for local entrepreneurs to pursue other vocations besides farming and ranching.
   The Britten family, who settled on homesteads farther up the South Fork canyon in 1888, was among the first to realize the economic potential of having a nearby national park. Following the death of patriarch Hudson Britten in 1892, the family moved down-canyon to settle in the Old Three Rivers area.
   In 1897, two of Hudson’s sons — Ernest and Noel — built the first general merchandise store in the area. The Britten Brothers General Store was located on the north (left) side of what today is the entrance to South Fork Estates at its junction with South Fork Drive.
   In the store was also a post office and, eventually, a telephone exchange.
   In 1913, the Brittens built the two-story Three Rivers Lodge, located on the low knoll on the right (south) side of today’s South Fork Estates entrance. This was operated by Noel Britten and his wife, Nellie.

  “We had lively times there,” recalled Viola “Viva” Britten Hallford (1906-2004), Noel and Nellie’s daughter, in the book The Woodlake 11-Class of 1924: A History of Woodlake Union High School by John Elliott. “There were usually five or six men from the Edison Company, the telephone line service, or the Park Service living with us. Also, the school teacher, Miss Collier, who was my third-grade teacher at Three Rivers School, boarded at the Lodge.”

  “Many distinguished people stayed overnight on their way to Giant Forest or Mineral King,” she continued. “Colonel White, the superintendent of Sequoia National Park [1920s], his wife and infant daughter, his secretary, and the assistant superintendent Dan Tobin lived with us while the Ash Mountain headquarters was being built. When the new cement highway was built [Highway 198], the contractor, his wife, and daughter Edna lived with us.”
   And about her parents, Noel and Nellie Britten, Viva said: “I was very privileged to have a mother and father so dedicated to the family. Being part of a loving family and active in the community came easy to me.”
   In addition to the Three Rivers store he owned and operated, in 1900, Ernest Britten was also the first permanent ranger appointed in Sequoia and General Grant national parks.
   In 1938, the Britten family built a new market on Highway 198 and relocated from the old store. Today, the Three Rivers Market is still in operation.
   The Three Rivers Lodge was destroyed by a fire in 1940.
   In 1998, the Three Rivers Historical Society commemorated the contributions of the Britten family to the community by placing a plaque on the old store site. At that time, the family, including Viva, gathered to honor their pioneer descendants.


THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
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