- Stream, Inlets & Lakes
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Pattison Lake is the middle lake of the interconnected horseshoe shaped tri-lakes system that also includes Hicks Lake and Long Lake. Located in the Lacey urban growth area, Pattison Lake is south of Mullen Road and north of the Yelm Highway. Just to the north, Hicks Lake provides inflow to Pattison ake through a culvert that passes under Mullen Road. Thus, Pattison Lake is part of the headwaters of the Woodland Creek system.
Sometimes erroneously called Patterson Lake, this lake is actually named after early Thurston County settler, James Pattison who, along with his wife, Jane Willey Pattison, crossed the Oregon Trail in 1849 and staked their donation land claim on the southwestern side of the lake.
With a surface area of 265 acres, Pattison Lake also receives inflow through groundwater connection in addition to the Hicks Lake connection. The lake is shallow with an average depth of only 14 feet and a maximum depth of 22 feet. With an elevation of 154 feet above sea level, Pattison Lake is eight feet lower than Hicks Lake. The lake consists of two basins, a smaller north basin that is 75 acres and the south basin of 190 acres. This is the result of the presence of a railroad trestle that splits the lake, creating a narrow waist. Extensive fill was used when the trestle was constructed, reducing the length of the structure and its cost. Every day, dozens of trains, both freight and Amtrak passenger trains, cross Pattison Lake on this main Burlington Northern trunk line which carries traffic up and down the west coast. A small, extremely shallow channel allows passage of small boats and water to flow between the two basins.
Pattison Lake is a very popular fishing lake and is stocked regularly with rainbow trout. It also has resident largemouth bass, yellow perch, black crappie and rock bass. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife provides public access on the northeast side of the lake at a boat launch located off Kagy Street. Unlike both Hicks and Long Lakes, Pattison Lake has a speed limit of 5 miles per hour. Thus, no jet skis or water skiers are present, making Pattison Lake a popular canoeing and kayaking lake as well as a favorite for fshing. A Discover Pass is required, and WDFW fshing regulations apply.
Like other lakes in the Thurston County, Pattison Lake once featured popular resorts, which were destinations for tourists from the 1910s through the 1930s as people from more urbanized locations such as Tacoma and Seattle sought recreational opportunities. Five such resorts existed on Pattison at one time, including Mullen’s Resort, LaVista Pavilion, Cedar Beach, Kelly’s Beach and Forest Beach.
Most prominent of these was Mullen’s Resort, located on the north end of the lake, just off today’s Mullen Road. Owned and operated by Frank and Ruby Mullen. Mullen’s resort featured 15 rental cabins for fsherman and others seeking rest and relaxation, 115 rental boats, 17 canoes, a wooden water slide attraction, and, most impressively, a high dive platform and board which required scaling some 88 steps to its top. The Northwest Amateur Athletic Union competitive dive team practiced on this colossal tower.
The LaVista Pavilion, with its glistening maple floors could seat 268 diners. Later in the evening the dance floor became popular as are orchestras attracted scores of dancers. In 1938, the pavilion was converted into a roller rink where kids both young and old could show their skating skills. Like the other area resorts, the gas rationing brought on by World War II signaled the beginning of the end for these destination beach resorts. Today, small cabins, now rental units, still remain on the shores of Pattison Lake, a reminder of earlier times.