LAKE OROVILLE, Calif. - There may not be much water in Lake Oroville right now but the low water levels are creating a great opportunity to get a close up look at Butte County history.
McCabe Creek feeds the lake on the extreme southeast side.
And because Lake Oroville is some 200 feet below the tree line, historical artifacts in the area that are typically underwater have been revealed.
"You're seeing all the rock walls and the sloughs that were built here by the miners during the very late 1840s and into 1850s," said Jana Frazier with the Department of Water Resources. "You've got your sloughs to divert water either to run it over sloughs box or you have little dividers that were literally moving the water back and forth so that the miners could mine the bottom of the river bed."
Tour guide is among the varied duties Frazier sees to. She said Gold Rush era artifacts are only the tip of the iceberg.
"As you move down this site towards the water's edge, you're actually going to come into a site that was actually mined by Chinese, based on the artifacts that we find," she said. "And then beyond that you'll find sites from the Native American people that were here prior to the gold rush era. "
It's a rare sight to behold and visitors have been making McCabe Creek a destination.
While officials like Frazier encourage explorers to have a look and even a touch, they've recently had problems with looting, which can be a felony and, according to her, is a historical no-no.
"Even if you brought it back to us, we wouldn't know where it went," she said. "It's like pulling a book out of a library, taking a page out of four or five books, and then just handing them back to the librarian and expecting her to know where those parts and pieces go. You're not going to figure it out."
So she implores sightseers to seize the opportunity while they can, but just leave the pieces of history they find for others to enjoy.
If you're interested in checking out the McCabe Creek area, you can find out how to get there by calling the Lake Oroville information center at (530) 538-2219.