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Big Creek, California
Location of Big Creek in Fresno County, California.
Location of Big Creek in Fresno County, California.
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Country  United States
State  California
County Fresno County
 • Total 0.46 sq mi (1.19 km2)
 • Land 0.46 sq mi (1.19 km2)
 • Water 0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)  0%
4,984 ft (1,519 m)
 • Total 151
 • Density 328.26/sq mi (126.73/km2)
Time zone UTC-8 (Pacific (PST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-7 (PDT)
ZIP Code
GNIS feature ID 1659696; 2628711

Big Creek (Big Creek Flats in the 1870s; Manzanita Park in 1902; until 1926, Cascada) is a small census-designated place in Fresno County, California, located in the Sierra Nevada on the north bank of Big Creek. It lies at an elevation of 4,984 feet (1,519 m) above sea level. Its last population count was 175. The ZIP code is 93605, and the community is inside area code 559.


Big Creek was built at the site of the first dam and power plant of Southern California Edison's Big Creek Hydroelectric Project, one of the most extensive in the world. Other than the private helipad owned by Southern California Edison, the only way in or out of the town is Big Creek Road, off of State Route 168. The dam has a walkway across it to the south bank, but access is limited to employees of SCE and those residents who have been given a key. Its major industries are electric power generation and tourism. There is camping and water recreation in the summer and snow skiing in the winter. Huntington Lake is to the northeast and Shaver Lake is to the south. China Peak is only about 15 kilometers (9.3 mi) away. Though Big Creek's only school is an elementary, it teaches kindergarten through 8th grade.

The penstock pipes for the original two units at Big Creek Power Houses One and Two, built 1912-13, were purchased from the Krupp Works in Germany because at that time that manufacturer produced steel pipes of the tensile strength needed to contain the very high water pressures in the pipes in the 1500 foot drop down to Power House One. These pipes were purchased twenty one years before the Nazi Party came to power in Germany, and before the NSDAP party even existed. There is visual evidence of swastikas (once used as a Hindu symbol of good luck) on Big Creek penstock pipe headers at Powerhouse 1 and 2. All post-World War One penstock pipes were manufactured in the United States. In addition, Big Creek is the hometown of Carver Mead, a Caltech electrical engineering professor who is responsible for developing the first GaAs MESFET and for his pioneering contributions to VLSI design.

The first post office opened at Big Creek in 1912.


Historical population
Census Pop.
2020 151
U.S. Decennial Census

The 2010 United States Census reported that Big Creek had a population of 175. The population density was 380.4 people per square mile (146.9/km2). The racial makeup of Big Creek was 158 (90.3%) White, 1 (0.6%) African American, 1 (0.6%) Native American, 5 (2.9%) Asian, 0 (0.0%) Pacific Islander, 3 (1.7%) from other races, and 7 (4.0%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 27 persons (15.4%).

The Census reported that 175 people (100% of the population) lived in households, 0 (0%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 0 (0%) were institutionalized.

There were 63 households, out of which 26 (41.3%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 43 (68.3%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 1 (1.6%) had a female householder with no husband present, 3 (4.8%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 4 (6.3%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 2 (3.2%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 12 households (19.0%) were made up of individuals, and 2 (3.2%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.78. There were 47 families (74.6% of all households); the average family size was 3.21.

The population was spread out, with 60 people (34.3%) under the age of 18, 4 people (2.3%) aged 18 to 24, 37 people (21.1%) aged 25 to 44, 58 people (33.1%) aged 45 to 64, and 16 people (9.1%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37.6 years. For every 100 females, there were 86.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 109.1 males.

There were 117 housing units at an average density of 254.3 per square mile (98.2/km2), of which 63 were occupied, of which 22 (34.9%) were owner-occupied, and 41 (65.1%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 0%; the rental vacancy rate was 31.1%. 47 people (26.9% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 128 people (73.1%) lived in rental housing units.

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