A Lake Is Born
"Getting there..." A half full Malibou Lake circa 1925. The normal water level for the lake is right at the top of the dam (seen here half exposed behind the boater). The lake is completelty filled for the first time in 1926 after a heavy late Spring rain. (Click here for full size higher quality image.)
Malibou Lake was the creation of two men: Bertran Lackey and George Wilson. They Envisioned a remote residential community surrounding a lake and set out to build it. They chose their site wisely: the convergence point of Medea Creek and Triunfo Creek. There were few roads in the mountains then - mainly wagon trails. What would become the 101 freeway was a dirt path and the extension of Pacific Coast Highway through the Malibu Area was still years away.
Wilson and Lackey's job was made much easier by the fact that Medea and Triunfo Creeks only flow at anything above a trickle after heavy rains. To build a dam on this site would not require a great engineering feat such as rerouting a major water flow, as is common on large-scale dam projects.
While residential lot surveys were started, work on the dam began in November 1922 and was completed five months later. The drawing for the cabin sites around the still dry "lake" took place on June 19, 1923 and exchanges among the original members of the Malibou Lake Club (later the Malibou Lake Mountain Club) took place with those wanting waterfront sites swapping with those who preferred hillside sites with views and so on.
Perhaps the longest three years in the Mountain Club's history were those years between 1923 and 1926 when their "lake" remained dry as a bone. There were fears that the lake would take ten years to fill or that it would empty through an unknown underground crevice.
Finally on April 5, 1926, a late spring storm produced nearly 5" of rain. The vast hillsides of the Santa Monica Mountains drained millions of gallons of water into Medea and Triunfo Creeks and Malibou Lake was filled for the first time. The founding members threw a party that lasted for days.
Tales persist to this day that legendary film director Cecil B. Demille had a hand in creating Malibou Lake, but that has never been more than a rumor. Demille was a guest at the lake on several occasions and did shoot scenes of several films there, but was never behind its creation - much to the dismay of creative real estate agents who have used the story for years when pitching houses at the lake.
-historical resarch by Nan Carlson
This page & photograph are from the book "Three Magical Miles". The book is available for sale from the non-profit Cornell Preservation Organization, P.O. Box 1875 Agoura Hills, CA 91301 or call (818) 734-0775. The cost is 20 dollars each and 3 dollars for postage. Malibou Lake does not benefit from the sale of this book but it is a great read for those interested in the history of Malibou Lake. The lake has a long history as a location for Hollywood. From the original Frankenstein movie to current releases Malibou Lake has consistently offered a unique location just a short drive from the major studios.