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 24, 2005


Fiscal year stats:

More tourists,


Sequoia visitation

signals summer surge

   On Wednesday, June 22, Tracy Thetford, the revenue manager for Sequoia National Park posted the final May visitor numbers for the local park and, as expected, they showed a significant increase. The 111,665 vehicle visits represented a seven-percent increase over the same monthly period for Sequoia in 2004.
   The year-to-date figures for 2005 are still 2.59 percent below last year’s numbers but local business owners, who attribute some of that to the lingering winter conditions, don’t expect that trend to continue once the June numbers are added to the total.

  “We are still a little slow during the weekdays, but all the weekends are very, very busy,” said Sam Yim, who with his wife, Sookie, own and operate Three Rivers Market.
   For the past several years, Sequoia’s visitor numbers have been gradually trending upward after several negative years in the mid to late-1990s. The drop in visitors for those years was an immediate effect of the closing of the concession facilities in Giant Forest.
   In 1996, when there were no longer any overnight accommodations after the summer season, total visitation for Sequoia National Park was only 838,422. That number represents 20 percent fewer vehicles entering Sequoia National Park than is projected for 2005.
   The year 1997, again with no off-season overnight accommodations, was somewhat of an anomaly as visits totaled 1,009,290.
   In 1998, the year prior to the opening of Wuksachi Village, total visits for the year plummeted to 841,647.
   The May opening of Wuksachi Village highlighted the year 1999, but park visitation of 863,969 was only slightly up from the previous year. For the first time since 1993, there was once again overnight lodging in Sequoia National Park.
   The best news of all for Three Rivers businesses that depend on Sequoia Park visitors is that following a slight dip in 2000, Sequoia visitation has increased each of the past four years. If the numbers continue to grow, Delaware North Parks Services, Sequoia’s concessioner, may proceed with an expansion project at Wuksachi Village that has been hovering in the design stage for five years.
   According to Thetford, who posts the numbers for the local parks on the official NPS visitation website, the compiling of the visitor numbers is based on paid vehicle entries and also vehicles that enter the more remote areas like South Fork and Mineral King.
   Statistical data has also been developed from computer models that help the parks’ accountants decipher which visits are non-recreational and also determine visitors per vehicle.

Rainfall season

ends on

high (water) note

   With only a slight chance for a raindrop in Three Rivers in the next seven days, it appears that the current total of 25.02 inches of rainfall at the 1,000-foot elevation level will be final for the 2004-05 season. The season, for most California agencies, runs according to the State Department of Water Resources calendar, which measures rainfall from July 1 to June 30.
   The current season, which ends officially next Thursday, will not be remembered for whopping rainfall totals. It will finish as only the third wettest in the last 10 years.
   But it will be remembered for the staying power and water content of its better than average snowpack, a run of coastal-like unseasonable temperatures in May and June, and more good air quality days than any year since 1998.
   Though some statistics of the current season were reminiscent of 1998, that El Nino of seven years ago delivered more significant rainfall events (52 in 1998 to 32 in 2005) and a total of 36.85 inches of rainfall in Three Rivers. But for some water-watchers, 2005 looked like a drought-buster next to last season’s paltry 13.01 inches.
   A very cooperative snowpack of the current season allowed Lake Kaweah managers to monitor the enlarged basin for several weeks, fill the new fusegates to the brim, and store more acre-feet of water longer than ever before in the 43-year history of Lake Kaweah.
   On Wednesday, June 22, the lake’s elevation remained above 714 feet, with storage of 184,500 acre-feet. On that historic day, the lake level reached a benchmark for the season within 1,000 acre-feet of capacity.

Stock talk:

DFG requests input

   On Tuesday, June 21, the California Department of Fish and Game announced scheduling for five regional town-hall meetings so recreational anglers have the opportunity to furnish input of where hatchery-raised trout are most wanted. DFG officials also want to know what types of trout are the most desirable.
   Many local fishermen feel that Lake Kaweah and the Kaweah River have not been receiving a fair share of stockers during the past several seasons. If you are among those anglers that would like to see more fish stocked locally, then now is the time to make your voice heard.
   Revenues from licenses have never been higher so funding is available to make improvements to the entire hatchery system. The DFG plans to use this latest input from the public meetings to improve the efficiency of all the state’s hatcheries.
   The nearest of the regional meetings for Kaweah Country residents is at the Fresno location, scheduled for Thursday, July 7, at 6:30 p.m. That meeting will be held at the Fresno Metropolitan Flood Control District Board Chambers, 5469 E. Olive Ave. (just off Highway 99).
   Written comments may be submitted until Aug. 31 to Ryan Broddrick, DFG director, via email ( or mail to him at 1416 Ninth St., 12th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814.
   For more information about the upcoming meeting or other scheduled locations, call Mike Wintemute, (916) 651-6643.


Darrell Hall,

historic-ranch owner prior to

development of Lake Kaweah
1908 ~ 2005
   Darrell Hall, a former Three Rivers resident, died Tuesday, June 14, 2005, in Contra Cost County. He was 97.
   Darrell was born Feb. 12, 1908, near Santa Maria, the third of four sons to Frank and Marguerite Hall. He was a third-generation California and the great-grandson of George Dalton, a prominent pioneer of Los Angeles who settled there in 1851.
   Darrell’s childhood home was the 2,000-acre Leona Valley Ranch near Palmdale. He attended Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster for two years, then graduated from Belmont High School in Los Angeles in 1926.
   In 1936, Darrell married the former Gladys Demmitt of Azusa. They settled in the Antelope Valley where they established successful operations in farming, cattle ranching, retail businesses, and real-estate investments.
   In 1952, Darrell acquired the 1,000-acre Hale Tharp Ranch, pioneer homesite of the first white settler in the Kaweah canyon, now within the fill level of Lake Kaweah. Living on the ranch with his family, he developed 100 acres of irrigated pasture and maintained a herd of 300 Hereford cattle.
   During the December 1955 flood, several of his cattle were washed down the river to the Valley, but he recovered them alive and well. The flood also was the impetus for the Terminus Dam proposal.
   During this time, Darrell was active in a property-owners group opposed to the construction of the dam. Despite the opposition, the proposal was eventually successful.
   In 1961, after losing his ranch to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Darrell purchased property on North Fork Drive that included the Kaweah Post Office and moved his house there. In 1997, the home was destroyed by fire.
   At that time, Darrell relocated to Contra Costa County to be near his children.
   Darrell was active in the former Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce and the Tulare County Farm Bureau. Throughout his life, he practiced the teachings of the science of Christian healing, founded in 1867 by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science.
   In 1974, Darrell was preceded in death by his wife of 38 years, Gladys, who had been a Three Rivers Union School teacher. He was also preceded in death by his three brothers (two older and one younger) — Harmon, Erwin, and Clifford Hall.
   He is survived by his three children, son Merle Hall and daughter Marilyn Riegelhuth, both of Walnut Creek, and son Robert Hall of Concord; seven grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.
Darrell will be laid to rest next to Gladys at the Odd Fellows Cemetery in Fresno.

Della Newman

   Della May Newman died at her home in Three Rivers on Wednesday, June 22, 2005. She was 72.
   Della was born in Morgantown, W.V., to Ned and Hallie Wilson on May 23, 1933. She served her country during the Korean War and was a member of the Women’s Army Corps.
   On July 13, 1968, Della married Delbert Newman in Kentucky. In 1970, Della moved to the Carson City, Nev., area, where she owned and operated TLC Realty for many years.
   In 1992, Della was preceded in death by her husband of 22 years, Delbert. In 2001, she moved to Three Rivers to be near her son and his family.
   Della is survived by her children, Sonja and Michael Newman of Carson City; Delbert Newman of Three Rivers; Walter Newman of Ohio; David Newman of Wisconsin; and Ingrid Newman of Las Vegas.; her brother, Floyd Farthing of Porterville; and eight grandchildren.
   Military graveside rites will be held Tuesday, June 28, at 2:30 p.m., at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley, Nev., under the direction of Smith Family Chapel of Exeter.
   Online condolences may be sent to the family by logging on to

Sequoia route

considered by

Visalia Transit

   While Visalia City Coach continues to experience an unprecedented increase in ridership, the City of Visalia transit department is setting its sights on destinations afar. Most notable of current “discussions,” according to Monty Cox, Visalia Transit manager, are possible route options that link Valley communities with Sequoia National Park.
   With bike lanes, a bus from Visalia to Sequoia, and a shuttle that operates within the parks all as an option, it’s fathomable that sometime in the near future a park visitor may be able to travel from anywhere in the world to Sequoia National Park without ever setting foot on the accelerator of a personal or rental vehicle.
For now, about 100,000 people a month are leaving their cars at home and riding the City Coach in and around Visalia.

Avoid slithering

encounters of

the snake kind

   The rattlesnake is California’s only venomous snake. Their size may vary, but adults can reach six feet in length.
   Rattlesnakes are an important part of the ecosystem, feeding on rodents, birds, and other small animals. Rattlesnakes have a distinctive, triangular head shape, which is a key characteristic in their identification.
   The rattle is on the end of the tail and is composed of interlocking segments. Young rattlesnakes are born with a small rattle or button. A new segment is formed each time the skin is shed, which may occur several times a year.
   Most rattlesnakes forage for prey in or near brushy or tall grass areas, rock outcrops, rodent burrows, around and under surface objects, and sometimes in the open. Adults eat live prey, primarily rodents; the young take mostly lizards and young rodents.
   To catch their prey, rattlesnakes wait until the animal is nearby. The snake strikes with two large fangs that inject venom. This subdues the prey, which is then swallowed whole.
   When inactive, most rattlesnakes seek cover in crevices of rocks, under surface objects, beneath dense vegetation, and in rodent burrows. Unlike most reptiles, rattlesnakes give birth to live young.
   The snake can control the amount of venom ejected from either or both fangs. Even after its death, a rattlesnake can inject venom for an hour or more by reflex action. Caution, therefore, is advised when handling what appears to be a dead snake.
   Snake bites— In the United States, about 800 rattlesnake bites are reported annually. While seldom fatal, bites are extremely painful and can lead to severe medical trauma.
   It is important to never handle rattlesnakes, not even dead ones. Be careful when moving brush, wood, logs, or other debris.
   Be alert when kneeling down to work in the garden and watch where you reach or step. Since rattlesnakes are often well camouflaged and wait quietly for prey, they can be difficult to see.
   In the wild, rattlesnakes should be left alone, as they present little potential hazard. However, rattlesnakes around the home or garden are not acceptable to most people. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize potential hazards.
   Legal status— The six species of rattlesnakes found in California are not considered endangered or threatened. California residents can kill rattlesnakes on private lands in any legal manner without a license or permit.
   Management— Nonpoisonous snakes should be left alone wherever found. Because of the danger rattlesnakes pose to people, pets, and livestock, it may be necessary to remove them from around homes and gardens.
   It is difficult to detect rattlesnakes because they are not easy to see or locate in their hiding places. Snake populations fluctuate from year to year due, in part, to the availability of prey. Some animals, such as peacocks, turkeys, dogs, and cats can be good sentinels for detecting snakes.
   One of the best ways to discourage rattlesnakes from inhabiting gardens and homes is to remove suitable hiding places. Heavy brush, tall grass, rocks, logs, rotten stumps, lumber piles, and other places of cover should be cleaned up.
   Remember, if left alone, a snake is likely to move on to another area. If necessary, rattlesnakes may be killed with a shovel or club. Rattlesnakes strike fast, so caution is important.




Life-size logo of

Three Rivers

Woman's Club

   On March 7, 1922, a young giant sequoia was planted in the front yard of Noel and Nellie Britten’s home, located just north of what today is the entrance to the South Fork Estates subdivision.
   At the time, Nellie was the president of the Three Rivers Woman’s Club, which had been in existence for just six years. The club’s motto became “In Union There is Strength” and the club colors are orange and green. Its stated purpose remains “To promote interest in intellectual pursuits, to become a center for the broader social life, and to work unitedly for the general advancement of both club and community.” And the “Sequoia gigantea” was selected as the club’s emblem.
   (In 1854, the botanical name Sequoia gigantea was given to the giant sequoia. In 1939, the tree’s name was revised to Sequoiadendron giganteum to more correctly identify it.)
   It was always the intention of the club to transplant the tree when a clubhouse was obtained. The clubhouse became a reality in 1924 when the family of the late Anna McMullen Hays deeded her home to the Three Rivers Woman’s Club.
   However, the tree was never relocated and the club minutes do not reflect any discussion as to why.
   On June 14, 1996, the Three Rivers Woman’s Club commemorated the tree and its humble beginnings by placing a plaque at its base. It bears the words:
     PLANTED MARCH 7, 1922
            THREE RIVERS
          WOMAN’S CLUB


THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
OFFICE: 41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, California
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
PHONE: (559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118 E-MAIL:
Entire contents of this website © Copyright 2003-2004 by The Kaweah Commonwealth