Quail Lake was “planned, constructed and operated by the California Department of Water Resources” to store water as part of the West Branch of the California Aqueduct (California Department of Water Resources). It is one of 29 State Water Project storage facilities, used to contain water used for power generation. The lake is fed by the west branch of the California Aqueduct and its released water flows into the Lower Quail Canal and farther downstream, to the Peace Valley Pipeline. The current lake was completed in the early 1970s and is just over a mile long, a half-mile wide and holds between 5,500 and 7,500 acre-feet of water.
Backstory and Context
The earliest known residents were Native American; Tataviam people may have occupied the area. Its smaller predecessor, Crane Lake, is now a part of Quail Lake, and was probably part of a series of sag ponds along the San Andreas fault line. Sag ponds are fresh water pools formed in the deepest depressions of fault zone land forms.
In the late nineteenth century, Roney Crane, for whom the original lake may have been named, settled near the area. Crane Lake was less that a third of Quail Lake’s current size. Later owners, Marco and William M. Bailey had been homesteaders in the adjacent Hungry Valley in the 1890s. Over the following decades, the Bailey brothers acquired additional property in the area surrounding what is now Quail Lake, eventually amassing nearly 2,000 acres. Their ranch house, constructed to comply with Homestead Act conditions, was nearly washed out by heavy rains and flooding which occurred periodically, threatening residents’ life safety and possessions. In 1907, the Baileys relocated their house near Quail Lake. The property was widely used for hunting until about the 1940s when much of the surrounding area became privately owned by a Los Angeles developer who built a country home overlooking the lake.
As of 2019, Quail Lake has a public recreation area. The California quail (Lophortyx californica) is coincidentally the state bird.
Historical Resources Evaluation Report, State Route 138 Northwest Corridor Improvement Project. Los Angeles, CA. California Departmen of Transportation, 2015.
Ketterl, Bonnie Kane. “Quail Lake Area”. Ridge Route Communities and Historical Society. February 19, 2010. March 2, 2019. http://ridgerdgeoutemuseum.org/quail-lake-area/.
Simpson, E. L. et al. "“An Upper Cretaceous Sag Pond Deposit: Implications for Recognition of Local Seismicity and Surface Rupture Along the Kaibab Monocline, Utah.”." Geology. 1 November 2009.