Segments in this Video

Tulare Lake (04:06)


The lake was once the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. The 440 square mile lake no longer exists.

Farming and Tulare Lake (04:13)

Settlers began diverting streams that went to the lake for farming in the 1860s. Once it dried up, farmers realized the soil of the lakebed was incredibly productive. There is now large-scale commercial farming in the lake basin.

Understanding Tulare Lake (05:44)

Archaeologist Jerry Hopkins explores the lake to better understand its history. Lloyd Carter is a photojournalist, who is trying to shine a light on water problems in the Central Valley. Writer Eileen Apperson's great-grandparents were among the first farmers by the lake.

Kings River (03:46)

The dried up river was the largest that flowed into Tulare Lake. Water from the river was diverted to irrigate fruit trees.

Lemoore, California (07:01)

Apperson visits the town on what was the Tulare Lake shore; a museum captures the history of the early settlers around the lake. The lake had fully disappeared by 1898.

Tulare Lake's History (06:53)

Carter grew up near Tulare Lake and recalls swimming in streams that are now dried. Native American tribes populated the Central Valley before settlers arrived in the 1860s. By 1900, California's Native American population reduced by 90%.

Tulare Lake's New Life (04:51)

Agricultural wastewater drains into Tulare Lake to be evaporated. It mixes with exposed selenium in the ground and becomes poisonous. Much of the lakebed has been turned into new housing developments.

Water and Poverty (05:59)

Stratford, like many small towns in the lake basin, struggles with drought, water rights, and poverty. The mechanization of farming led to many losing their jobs. Several towns struggle to get clean drinking water.

Source of Water (03:16)

The amount of water the Central Valley gets each year depends on snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The snowpack acts as a natural reservoir.

Phantom Lake (04:09)

Tulare Lake is often called Phantom Lake. A highway runs along one of its historic shorelines and canals run along others.

Tulare Lake Restoration Efforts (06:57)

Some areas of poor performing farmland have been covered with water. The new marshes have allowed wildlife to return.

Central Valley's Nature (05:18)

About 5% of original habitats in the Central Valley remain. Environmentalists are hoping they can work with the agriculture industry to restore natural habitats.

Credits: Part 2: Tulare - The Phantom Lake (02:34)

Credits: Part 2: Tulare - The Phantom Lake

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Part 2: Tulare - The Phantom Lake

Part of the Series : The Valley and the Lake: Drought, Diversion, Agriculture, and Groundwater in Central California
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



What was once the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River disappeared more than 100 years ago due to water diversion and land reclamation for agriculture. This program visits with a series of people living in and around the old lake bed, raising sometimes unsettling, unresolved questions about what was gained and what was lost in the process.

Length: 66 minutes

Item#: BVL280750

Copyright date: ©2022

Closed Captioned

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