In a 20,000-acre forest along the shores of Shaver Lake in the central Sierra Nevada sits Camp Edison, a campground owned and operated by Southern California Edison. Camp Edison has hosted thousands of happy campers each year since it opened in the early 1960s, including SCE employees and their families, and it’s celebrating its 50th anniversary this August.
H O W I T C A M E T O B E
In 1919, SCE purchased the land where Shaver Lake now sits. The land included a pond—originally used for a steam-powered lumber mill—where SCE planned to build one of six reservoirs for the Big Creek hydroelectric project. The mill pond was already a popular vacation spot among Fresno locals, and after SCE constructed a dam for the Shaver reservoir, the expanded lake became even more appealing. SCE built a small camp, called Camp Shaver, on the land in the 1920s. The camp expanded over the years and was eventually renamed. Camp Edison opened to the public on August 22, 1963.
The company originally used Camp Edison to promote electricity use. Rather than including a barbecue pit at each campsite, the camp provided electric cooking stations. The number of campsites has grown over the years from 100 to 252, and the campsites now have all the comforts of home, including power and cable television connections. Additional amenities have been added, including an amphitheater, laundry facilities, a basketball court and a boat launch, along with a marina and a general store.
Today, the campground lets SCE give back to the community by allowing recreational activities on the property. “People have been camping in this area since the lake was built,” said Richard Bagley, Forestry and Campground manager. “The company operates the campground as part of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission license requirement in exchange for the right to use the water to produce electricity.”