Lower Lake Town Profile
March 8, 2022
Wander down to the south side of the county and you’ll come across Lower Lake, a small town with a big personality. Lower Lake was founded in 1858 and was originally the county seat before a hotly contested election of 1867 moved the seat to Lakeport.
With a population of a little over 1,200, this town is a small but mighty area of the county that has something for everyone. From award-winning wineries just a short drive outside of town, to museums, renown bird-watching parks, a tortilla factory, and one of the smallest historical jails in the United States, we can assure you’ll have a good time when you visit.
If you’re in the mood for learning about some of the history of the region we recommend checking out the Schoolhouse Museum and the Stone Jail, located at opposite ends of Main Street. The Schoolhouse Museum, built in 1877 and renovated and opened as a museum in 1993, hosts an interesting collection of artifacts relating to schools and education in Lake County. A restored classroom and bell tower allow the visitor to get a sense of what it was like to go to school in 19th century California. Displays of local pioneer and Native American artifacts round out this museum’s collection and help visitor’s get acquainted with the history of the Lower Lake area.
On the opposite side of Main Street you’ll find the Stone Jail. The jail was built in 1876 at the height of the quicksilver mining boom as a response to rapid town growth and the urgent need for civil order. Stephen Nicolai, one of the first stone masons in Lower Lake, built the jail from local materials along with the help of Theodore and John Copsey. The jail is one of the smallest in the United States and is a registered historical landmark.
The story goes that Theodore and John Copsey commemorated the completion of the jail by over-celebrating, thus becoming the jail’s first occupants. Rumor has it that they were also the first escapees – as they had failed to bolt down the roof.
Tortilleria La Unica Tortilla Factory
Before leaving Main Street we recommend stopping by Tortilleria La Unica, a family-owned tortilla factory that serves the community of Lake County as well as surrounding areas. While there you can watch them make a variety of products including corn and flour tortillas, tamale dough, tortilla chips, taco shells, and salsa. These are some of the best tortillas in the county so be sure to stock up before leaving!
If you’re feeling thirsty and want to taste some of the county’s incredible wines, head on over to Fults Family Vineyards located just a mile outside of town. Enter the tree-lined driveway and up a rise, past the Fults’ home to their tasting room overlooking a large pond. Kendall, co-owner of Fults Family Vineyards, keeps it relaxed and welcoming. This is the kind of place where no matter your wine knowledge or preference you’ll have a good time. If you’ve never been to a winery with a television on one wall playing sports, or a par-3 hole where you can hit golf balls while you sip on a glass, then you’ve been missing out! It all fits together perfectly at FFV. Come in on the weekend and you’ll probably run into proprietor Kendall Fults sitting behind the tasting room bar, waiting with some good wine and a good story.
Want to stretch your legs a bit and take your chance at bird watching? Head over to Anderson Marsh State Historic Park where approximately 151 different bird species, both migrating and resident, have been identified.
Anderson Marsh consists of 1,065 acres of riparian, grassland, oak woodland, and tule marsh habitat and also offers visitors a variety of outdoor recreation activities. Be sure to check out the monthly Guided Nature Walks that provide an opportunity to observe wildlife at the Park and learn about their natural habitat, as well as to learn about natural and cultural history and geology of the area.
The Park also contains archeological sites of the Southeastern Pomo that are at least 10,000 years old, as well as a 19th Century Ranch House and Barn complex built by the first European settlers on the land. There are hiking and boating trails that allow visitors to experience several protected habitats within the Park.
As you can see, there’s something for just about everyone in Lower Lake so make sure to check it out when you visit Lake County!