The teeth behind Sawmill Pond: Popular youth fishing hole and picnic spot has a rich history |

The teeth behind Sawmill Pond: Popular youth fishing hole and picnic spot has a rich history

Susan Wood
Wildflowers grow at the edge of Sawmill Pond. Photos by Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Sometimes, present-day things aren’t always what they seem when one looks at the past. Sawmill Pond, for instance, is indeed a pond where picnicking and youth fishing draw visitors during summer and ice skaters in winter.

And yes, there was a sawmill in the area that produced a water backfill off Lake Tahoe Boulevard. But neither the pond nor the mill are where they once were.

To get a true sense of the history of the place, a visitor can look at Lake Tahoe Boulevard and imagine where the original pond was situated right on the road. Cross it at the corner of Sawmill Road and find the foundation of the old mill that hopped in the Comstock logging period from the 1860s to 1890s.

It was owned and operated by the Celio family, South Shore pioneers who laid stake to at least 13,000 acres in the area of Meyers and Christmas Valley – a nickname for Upper Lake Valley.

According to historical documents obtained by the Tahoe Daily Tribune from family descendant Shirley Taylor and the current landowner, the U.S. Forest Service, the history has turned out to be as rich in character as the Celios.

The family patriarch, Carlo Celio, refused to allow the Carson and Tahoe Lumber and Fluming Co. to have railroad and timber rights on his property.

In 1922, Celio built a steam-powered mill, known as today’s popular South Shore fishing hole, as the second in the area. The first one was located one mile south of the ranch on the Upper Truckee River in the area of Panorama, Woodchuck and Ermine courts.

The Sawmill Road mill provided finished lumber of Fallen Leaf and Echo lakes, with the Celios staying in the lumber industry for 47 years.

The land became Forest Service property in 1986. Today, it serves as a place for youngsters to try their hand at fishing – a program established cooperatively through California Fish and Game, El Dorado County and the Forest Service. Those age 14 and under are allowed catch up to five fish.

The place is memorable for Becky Ward of Modesto, whose son, Brandon, threw out his first cast recently. The family was simply driving by and saw the scenic, peaceful spot. It was their first visit.

“We had the pole and thought, ‘Why not stop and bring the chairs out?'” she said. Camp chairs marked a spot on the shoreline where the family planted temporary stakes.

The Rogers of Sunnyvale, veteran visitors of the pond, place it on their route for every Tahoe trip. For this year’s summer vacation, parents Julie and Joe arranged to start and end their trip there.

Five-year-old J. Henry caught one and made sure his grandmother in Michigan got word of it on a card he drafted before the family even left the area.

“Grandma Annie, I caught a big fish,” the young boy wrote.






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