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About Millerton Lake State Recreation Area
Campgrounds in Millerton Lake
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History of Millerton Lake State Recreation Area
For thousands of years, several groups of Northern Foothill Yokuts lived in the rolling grasslands and woodlands of the region. The women crafted beautiful baskets used for both utilitarian and ceremonial purposes. The men harvested acorns and hunted deer, quail and other game. The Yokuts were especially skilled at fishing for salmon, which they dried and stored for winter use. The lives of the Yokuts were altered by the intrusion of settlers who brought diseases to which they had no immunity, depleted their food sources, and caused them to be displaced from their villages. Conflicts with the new arrivals ultimately led to the Mariposa Indian War, which ended in 1851 with the signing of a peace treaty at the U.S. military encampment known as Camp Barbour. An envoy had negotiated treaties with several California Indian groups, but Congress failed to ratify the treaties. Camp Barbour, now beneath the lake’s surface, was built in 1850. A tent city called Rootville, later changed to Millerton, sprang up and quickly prospered. It served as the Fresno County seat from 1856 to 1874. The area’s only courthouse was built in 1867. In 1941 the courthouse was dismantled and reconstructed on its present site at Mariner’s Point to protect it from rising floodwaters. The courthouse has been restored to look much as it did more than a century ago. Today the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation maintains Friant Dam as part of the federal Central Valley Project to manage water for flood control, drinking water and irrigation. California State Parks has an operating agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation for the management of Millerton Lake.