Lexington Reservoir

Lexington Reservoir

Infobox lake
lake_name = Lexington Reservoir
image_lake = LexingtonReservoirR4IMG002.jpg
caption_lake = Reservoir from downstream end near dam
image_bathymetry =
caption_bathymetry =
location = Los Gatos, California
coords = coord|37.202|N|121.99|W|region:US-CA_type:waterbody|display=inline,title
type = reservoir
inflow = Los Gatos Creek
outflow = Los Gatos Creek
catchment = convert|27.7|sqmi|km2|abbr=on|lk=on
basin_countries = United States
length =
width =
area = convert|450|acre|km2|1|abbr=on|lk=on
depth =
max-depth =
volume = convert|21430|acre.ft|m3|-5|abbr=on|lk=on
residence_time =
shore =
elevation = convert|645|ft|m|abbr=on|lk=on
islands =
cities =
frozen = never
reference = cite web|url=http://damsafety.water.ca.gov/docs/Juris%20(H-M)10-07.pdf|title=Dams Within the Jurisdiction of the State of California|accessdate=2008-01-23]

Lexington Reservoir is an artificial lake on the Los Gatos Creek near Los Gatos, California. The James J. Lenihan Dam, a convert|195|ft|m|sing=on tall, convert|1000|ft|m thick earthen dam, forms the third-largest reservoir in Santa Clara County. cite web | last =Spitalere | first =Paul | authorlink =Paul Spitalere | title =Remembering Lexington and Alma | publisher = San Jose State University | date =2002 | url =http://www.sjsu.edu/depts/commstudies/woz/paper2.html | accessdate = 2007-11-12 ]

The reservoir is in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, at an elevation of convert|645|ft|m. [ [http://lat-long.com/ShowDetail-52526-California-Lexington_Reservoir.html Lexington Reservoir, California: Lexington Reservoir, California Latitude and Longitude ] ]

State Route 17 runs alongside the dam's western edge and over part of the reservoir. Alma Bridge Road (Limekill Canyon Road) runs around the eastern side, connecting with 17 at the north end and again at the south end via other surface streets.

The reservoir is contained in Lexington Reservoir County Park, which includes hiking trails in the hills with good views of the reservoir and of Silicon Valley. The Los Gatos Creek Trail starts at the dam and continues downstream along the creek's canyon.

It is part of the Santa Clara Valley Water District and provides water for Silicon Valley.

In October 2007, the Santa Clara Valley Water District began a construction project to replace the old convert|48|in|mm|sing=on outlet pipe that runs through the base of the dam from the reservoir to Los Gatos Creek. The current outlet pipe will be replaced with a convert|54|in|mm|sing=on-diameter pipe, new valves, outlet structures and a control building.Citation | last =Rogers | first =Paul | author-link =Paul Rogers | title =Lexington Reservoir rehab begins | newspaper =The Monterey Herald | year =2007 | date =2007-11-03 | url = http://www.montereyherald.com/ci_7360611?nclick_check=1]

The repairs are being made to allow the reservoir to drain quickly enough during emergencies such as after a major earthquake that could cause cracks in the dam, or during a series of heavy winter storms that posed flooding risks to Los Gatos and Campbell.


In 1943, the Santa Clara Valley Water District identified that the well water in the Santa Clara Valley was being diminished at a rapid rate and a dam was needed on the Los Gatos Creek, two miles (3 km) south of Los Gatos. One goal was to percolate the water into the ground and ultimately increase the amount of well water available. After rerouting State Route 17 near Windy Point which is a mile south of Los Gatos, dam construction began in the spring of 1952 and was completed in the fall of 1952.

The reservoir covered the towns of Lexington and Alma. Alma and Lexington reached their peak population in the mid-1800s, when about 200 people lived in each. Each of the towns had a post office, hotel, saloons, blacksmith shops, and half a dozen redwood sawmills. Lexington was the halfway stop for stagecoaches running between San Jose and Santa Cruz. The town served as a place to switch from a team of four horses to six horses to get over the mountains. Lexington declined after 1880 when the narrow gauge railroad from Los Gatos to Santa Cruz bypassed it, while Alma declined when Highway 17 bypassed it in 1940. The railroad ceased operations in 1940. By 1950, only about 100 people lived in the two communities.

Lexington gained national attention in 1883, when a Los Gatos saloon keeper, Lloyd Majors, hired two thugs to rob an elderly Lexington man who kept $20,000 in gold in his cabin. They burned him with turpentine-soaked rags and beat him with pistols, killing him, and then fled with the gold. Their sensational trial in San Jose drew national attention similar to that accorded to the Lizzie Borden ax murders nine years later. Majors and one of the thugs were hanged. The other spent 15 years in prison.

Renovation Projects

In September 2007, the Santa Clara Valley Water District began its “Lenihan Dam Outlet Project” at Lexington Reservoir. This project will replace the old outlet pipe that releases water from Lexington Reservoir into some of the creeks and streams of Santa Clara Valley. In the past, the old pipe required frequent maintenance and repairs because it was aging and collapsed in several areas. The new outlet pipe, which will run through a new tunnel in Saint Joseph’s Hill (on the east side of the dam), will also feature new actuating valves and a new intake structure.

Construction for this project is expected to end around Fall of 2009. The Santa Clara Valley Water District features a Lexington Reservoir & Lenihan Dam Project project page on its [http://www.valleywater.org/lenihan/index.shtm website] . [Information retrieved from the Santa Clara Valley Water District at www.valleywater.org]

Lexington Reservoir County Park

Besides serving as a water supply for the area, the lake is used for rowing, paddling, and fishing. Santa Clara County manages the convert|960|acre|km2|sing=on Lexington Reservoir County Park. The park provides facilities for hiking and picnicking. The reservoir is stocked with black bass, trout, bluegill, and crappie. The park includes part of the San Andreas Fault, which crosses Los Gatos Creek just south of the upstream end of the reservoir. The mountains feature redwood forests, chaparral, grasslands, hardwoods, and mixed conifer habitats. [ [http://trails.com/tcatalog_trail.asp?trailid=CGS045-004 Lexington Reservoir | CA: Northern California Water Trails ] ]

When the level of Lexington Reservoir drops, it is possible to see portions of the old roads that were used in the construction of the reservoir and to the historic towns of Lexington and Alma that once existed in the valley before the reservoir was created. Some building foundations in the ghost towns are also visible at times. [http://3dparks.wr.usgs.gov/3Dbayarea.html/Lexington.htm]


* [http://www.valleywater.org Santa Clara Valley Water District homepage]
* [http://www.valleywater.org/lenihan/index.shtm Santa Clara Valley Water District Lexington Reservoir and Lenihan Dam Project Page]

ee also

*List of reservoirs and dams in California
*List of lakes in California
*List of lakes in the San Francisco Bay Area
* [http://www.flickr.com/photos/eviscero/sets/72157606341635200/ Recent photos while water levels are extremely low]

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