Little Lake, Inyo County, California

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Little Lake
Former settlement
Little Lake is located in California
Little Lake
Little Lake
Location in California
Coordinates: 35°56′12″N 117°54′24″W / 35.93667°N 117.90667°W / 35.93667; -117.90667Coordinates: 35°56′12″N 117°54′24″W / 35.93667°N 117.90667°W / 35.93667; -117.90667
CountryUnited States
CountyInyo County
Elevation3,130 ft (954 m)

Little Lake is a former settlement in Inyo County that lies just off U.S. Route 395 on Little Lake Road.


Little Lake was established largely as a traveler's stop along what eventually became US 395, after the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power dammed the site's eponymous landmark – once known as Owens Little Lake – as part of its work on the Los Angeles Aqueduct in 1905.

While early on the town had a store, auto repair shop and gas station, its most famous landmark was its namesake, rock-faced hotel constructed in 1923.[2]

Little Lake was a necessary stop for travelers journeying up to the Eastern Sierra from Los Angeles for decades. In the 1920s, a trip from Los Angeles to a town such as Lone Pine might take 2 or 3 days necessitating a stay at locations like Little Lake before continuing onwards.[3] In the 1940s, “sportsman traffic heading northward along US 395 considered Little Lake an important stop to spray cooling water on boiling radiators, feed hungry stomachs or to get gasoline.”[3]

The Little Lake Hotel in the 1950s


As technology improved, travelers no longer needed to stop as often for rest and supplies. By the 1980s travelers could easily travel from Los Angeles to locations in the Eastern Sierra with little more than brief stops for gas. With these improvements small settlements like Little Lake became increasingly obsolete.[3] In the early 1960s, US 395 was improved and realigned; as a result, the former alignment that Little Lake was built on became a frontage road known as Little Lake Road, and the need to access it by leaving the new US 395 ruined the business. Around 1981, Southern Pacific's "Jawbone Branch" that passed Little Lake was abandoned and the rails eventually torn up.[4] Little Lake Hotel burned in 1989 and was never reopened, though it served as a private residence for a while.[2] In 1997, the United States Postal Service ended service at Little Lake.

Current State[edit]

Little Lake, Inyo County, California

Though it remains marked as a location in numerous maps, most of the site had been cleared (bulldozed) by the summer of 2001 with the exception of the decaying remains of the former post office.[5][3]


  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Little Lake, Inyo County, California
  2. ^ a b Speck, Gary B. (5 June 2010). "Gone, But Not Forgotten: Little Lake, Inyo County, CA". Retrieved 1 May 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d wshawkins (16 December 2013). "Little Lake". Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  4. ^ Palmer, Mike (26 June 2010). "Abandoned Rails: The Lone Pine Branch". Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  5. ^ Ross, Kelley L. (2010). "Recollections of Little Lake, California". Retrieved 30 April 2014.