LAKE COUNTY HISTORY CHAPTER 11: THE HOLLOW MOUNTAIN

‘When the Red Men first here came

They asked the Spirit for a name:

Came the answer Kabatin.

Where the mountains touch the sky,

Let the name be Konocti.’

Pomo Legend

The First Americans struggled to keep their footing as the land beneath Lake County shifted. They felt the powerful tremors and the sudden movement beneath the earth. They watched the mountains dance. They saw the blue glint of the ice pack; the onslaught of glaciers that covered the poles to the edge of the world. They smelled the first clouds of acrid sulfur as the fumes jetted from the ground and watched with fear and wonder as the spewing lava oozed from the ground. It would continue to build slowly. Over the millennia the growing red mountain of lava and rocks would become… Konocti.

Southeast of Kelseyville, and as long as it takes a man to drive for a half hour from Upper Lake to the far end of Clear Lake at Lower Lake, the way is more than twenty miles of winding road. When you reach a certain place in the road, you will see the iron-rich lava that came from the ground one hundred and forty million years ago. The iron in the lava of Konocti and the hillsides around the mountain for miles are painted blood-red.

Konocti is five miles wide and four miles long. Four separate peaks rise at the summit to a height of more than four thousand feet. The lava that created Konocti may have finally ceased its activity. If it has not, the convulsions of the tectonic plates beneath Lake County will, in some future time, resume its slow-motion dance and send more lava from the nether regions of the planet every three thousand years, or so. Konocti may have died, but death was not quick nor silent. The last explosion, Buckingham Peak, was only a few thousand years ago. To awed and fearful admiration, Native Americans watched as earth send fireworks into the sky.

Yuki Indians were the nearest witnesses. They lived on the shores of Clear Lake where the town of Lower Lake stands today. They remember. In their myths and tales, they speak of Konocti’s mischief-making.

Konocti’s four peaks are South Peak, Wright Peak to the east, Howard Peak to the opposite side, and Buckingham Peak to the north. Howard Peak is the true peak; highest and the most ancient. The rest are pretenders; youngsters by comparison.

Despite its appearance, Konocti is not a single volcanic mountain. It is made of many different eruptions throughout thousands of years. The material that covers the mountain and the land around it is called ‘tuff,’ a material caused by the lava flowing through the sea water that once covered the area long before Clear Lake was formed. You can see it in the Lava Rings. Each of the flows, as the ground erupted, left a separate ring to distinguish an earlier flow from a later flow.

Nearby, inside Lake County, there are several other mountains. Each is unique. Mt. Hannah, one of them, is nearly as high as Konocti; 3978 to Konocti’s 4299 feet. Unlike rugged Konocti, sister Hannah, when you view her from Clear Lake, appears as a symmetrical green pyramid. Inside the earth, there are forces constantly at work. As one might see from certain viewing places, deep internal pressures have given Mt. Hannah bulbous protrusions.

Konocti and Clear Lake are connected. From all the research uncovered, there is a pile of evidence to support this belief. There is a large vent opening into Konocti on the side of Wright Peak. How far down does the hole reach? A Native American Pomo told of an experiment he made to find how deep the vent might be and what he saw.

“I dropped sticks into the vent. Each of the sticks was the length of my forearm. I had notched each stick so I could tell they were my sticks. Later some of the sticks were found floating on the Lake by myself and other men.

Next Week: A Mystery

Lake County History. $32. (includes. Tax & Shipping)

Pal Publishing, PO Box 6, Upper Lake, Ca 95485

e-mail: genepaleno@gmail.com

Website: genepaleno.com

Gene Paleno

Gene runs his life at a full sprint. In his ninety-three years he's dug ditches, painted signs, played semi-pro football, worked as a taxicab driver, an insurance agent, and a school teacher. He's been a technical artist, a marketing director, and a business owner. He served in World War II, raised four children, and was married to the love of his life for fifty years. He's an accomplished oil painter and skilled in ceramics. He's written fifteen books, including the definitive Lake County History, and doesn't show any signs of slowing down.

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