Soon after local newspapers headlined Frank Hartmann's acquisition of a permit to build a lake, the huge Boise-Cascade corporation, through its subsidiary U.S. Land Company and its subsidiary Western Lands Co., owned Hartmann’s permit and the 1,600 acres in Coyote Valley. The Hartmann family owned a 350,000-acre working cattle ranch in Idaho.
Plans for the projected 2000 lots and amenities were presented to Lake County officials at a special dinner aboard the Susie S docked in Lakeport on May 13, 1968, according to the next morning’s Santa Rosa Press Democrat. U.S. Land Co. vice president Robert Onorato reported that exploratory drillings were already underway to test the dam site and the master plan would be presented to the planning commission within two weeks. Dam construction was slated to begin July 1, to be completed by October 15, with the lake filling within a year.
Work began immediately on the dam and roads; soon thereafter on the front nine of the golf course, the pro shop and country club. Local realtors were alerted and indoctrinated; key management and sales personnel were brought in from Lake of the Pines, along with a variety of tools and equipment to hasten construction and two canopied excursion boats to entice prospective buyers.
Bill Stricklan was among the local realtors who joined the first sales efforts. “It was a three-ring circus,” he recalls. “Every weekend… hotdogs, burgers, barbecues. They aimed at kids with ice cream and clowns with balloons. They went all out. They got lots of people here and showed them around. The place didn’t sell all that fast though.”
By the time Boise had completed the purchase of the several properties that separated the two Hartmann parcels, and a few adjoining properties desired to complete the master plan for Hidden Valley Lake, the corporation was experiencing severe financial distress, generated mostly by its other properties. On one hand, it was the nature of the times — environmental concerns were beginning to have considerable effect on development.
In 1967 alone, Boise-Cascade had amassed real estate holdings of 126,000 acres in more than 12 states, with the majority of the land in California. Hoping to sell this property to large investors, the company met with little success and was forced to revise its strategy and develop the land itself into residential and recreational areas.
In Lake County, local residents begrudgingly welcomed the advent of a gated community. Its promise of increasing tourism in an area essentially dependent on income from seasonal visitors was an unquestioned boon. The new jobs created in the construction of the dam and homes were welcomed. But the gates implied exclusion and a sense of superiority on the part of new residents.
Despite escalating cash-flow problems, Boise Cascade was striving to bring Hidden Valley Lake to fruition. The first issue of the Hidden Valley Lake newsletter April 1, 1969, predicted on its front page that the front nine of the golf course, driving green and pro shop would go into use June 1. The lake was filled by 9:57 am on January 26, only a bit more than three months later than scheduled, the newsletter reported.
By 1970 it was clear the company's land development business was in serious trouble, accumulating losses that placed the entire organization in jeopardy. Corporate headquarters decided to liquidate B-C’s real estate interests.
On March 8, 1971, while retaining the amenities in hope of future profit, Boise-Cascade deeded to the Hidden Valley Lake Association “all of the streets, parks, common areas and campgrounds.” Stone House was included as a part of the common areas.
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