Lake Murray, La Mesa, California, USA, 1920
Old picture of Lake Murray (San Diego). This picture was taken about ten years after the Dam was built.
Lake Murray, La Mesa, California, USA, 2015
This is an up to date picture of roughly the same view of Lake Murray.
Lake Murray, La Mesa, California, USA

Lake Murray is a lake within San Diego County. It has been shut down for years, and I got my Mom's opinion on the issue. She has been a resident of this area for 40+ years.

Interviewer: Anonymous
Interview Date: January 29, 2019
Submission Date: January 30, 2019
Keywords: lake San Diego
About This Place

Historic Appearance

The observer described Lake Murray as one of the jewels of San Diego. It is located right in the heart of San Diego. The observer would spend a lot of time doing recreational activities around the lake like jogging. The lake was contaminated by a civilian aquarium and became contaminated by an invasive weed. The lake has been shut down for many years. San Diego County is now looking to reopen it.

Changes over Time

The place was shut down and residents were not able to participate in their favorite outdoor activities.

Historic & Current Activities

The observer used to jog around the lake. The observer's father used to love fishing on the lake.

The observer does not participate in any activities on the lake anymore. It is closed.

Conversation Transcript

Jake: Hi. This is Jake Bailey. I’m interviewing Susan Bailey. She’s my mom. A long-time resident of San Diego, California. We will be talking about Lake Murray, which is a lake just outside of La Mesa in San Diego where she grew up. Hi, mom. How did you observe the place and what did it used to look like when you lived there? And what time period did you live there?

Susan: I began living in La Mesa in 1975. Lake Murray was this jewel of a suburban community, pristine with jogging paths, and docks, fishing, and a great community, you know, centerpiece. It was the most used waterway in San Diego besides the ocean for recreation use.

Jake: And then, how did it look? Was it pretty clean?

Susan: Yes. It was a man-made reservoir. It is a man-made reservoir. And the area was clean and groomed and taken care of by the community.

Jake: Cool. And then was there a specific event that changed this, or how has the place changed overall throughout the years?

Susan: Well, in the late 70s, they believe someone dumped a personal aquarium into the lake, which caused the growth of a very invasive weed called Hydrilla. And the weed was so feared that they worried it would spread to all the other reservoirs and waterways in San Diego. So, they completely shut down Lake Murray, and it was shut down for all recreational activities. It was shut down as a, you know, beautiful, pristine reservoir, and it was just neglected and closed up. They closed gates for entrance. You couldn’t even jog around it anymore.

Jake: Wow. So, was there other specific activities you remember doing before this place was closed?

Susan: Yes. I would ride my bike around the lake. They have a great trail path around the entirety of the lake.

Jake: And grandpa used to fish?

Susan: Yes.

Jake: Cool. So, is there anything you can do there now?

Susan: Well, they’ve started reopening it. It’s not to its original glory, but there is fishing allowed. There is, you know, activities. But the neglect for a couple decades that it suffered really affected that the plant life and the vegetation around the area because it was just not maintained. So, you know, local plant life died, local birds and, you know, they left. And so the vegetation and the wildlife are coming back, but not into where it was.

Jake: Cool. That is Lake Murray just outside of the Eight Freeway in San Diego. You can see the old picture taken by Lee Passmore and how the dam has changed over the years. This picture was taken in 1920. That’s Lake Murray and thank you for listening.

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