Reservoir development began in the 1840’s when miners arrived, scouring the Stanislaus River for gold.
Melones Dam completed in 1926.
Surface Area: 12,500 Acres
The New Melones Project was authorized in 1944 to create a much larger reservoir and to establish a new hydroelectric plant. It would also be specifically designed to prevent floods.
It was a controversial project.
The dam's opponents argued that its presence would inundate the river valley, eliminate the natural whitewater rapids, flood many of the massive unique limestone cave formations characteristic of the area, and destroy archaeological resources found along the river.
Upon the dam's completion, the valley filled with water, covering the old mining town of Melones and the original Melones Dam.