Author photo

By Susan Wiggins
contributing writer 

The history of Brite Valley

A Page of History


May 14, 2022

The Loop staff

Brite Lake.

The Brite Valley is located west of the city Tehachapi, in a fertile area surrounded by mountains. It has been known to many generations of Native Americans and later white settlers who discovered the rich soil and temperatures to raise foods for themselves and cattle.

The valley is four miles long and two miles wide.

The valley's first residents were most likely the Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Paiute) who lived there for thousands of years. They gathered acorns, bulbs, seeds and greens. Their meat supply, which they hunted, included deer, rabbits, quail and other animals.

The settlers arrived later in 1854, when John Brite, his wife Amanda and their children, settled after seeing the rich soil that they knew would provide them with good crops. The early residents also included the Wiggins family, with whom some of the Brites eventually married.

When I married my husband Ed Wigginas in 2001 he wanted to get married under a huge oak tree adjacent to Brite Lake. He explained his family history to me and it seemed a perfect spot to honor his relatives who started everything there.

The lands remained fertile and others settled around the valley building homes, farms and ranches.

None of those early residents could have envisioned such a recreation area. The dam and a reservoir were constructed in 1971. Water began to fill the lake November,13, 1973, from the State Water Project, pumped up from the California Aqueduct.

Today the Lake Aquatic Recreation Area is run by the Tehachapi Recreation and Parks District. The water itself is owned and managed by the Tehachapi Cummings County Water District. Because the water is also used by humans for drinking water, swimming or wading is not allowed.

If anyone loves to fish this is the place. The lake is normally filled with fish every year. However the pandemic has limited the number of times fish have been planted in the last two years.

All that means is that those smaller fish which were planted have grown into great big fish waiting to be caught.

There are trout and catfish, along with some bass and crappie, bluegill and carp specimens. Motorized boats are not allowed, but the lake is not huge and fishermen can paddle to a better spot if they so desire.

For those who wish to stay another day and enjoy the weather, there is a campground, which supplies RV hookups, tent camping and picnic pavilions.

Brite Lake is located on Banducci Road, easy driving on paved roads. There is hiking and peaceful views all around the lake. There are also larger campsites with covered areas to handle large family gatherings.

For more information about fishing or camping in the area call (661) 822-8047.


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