In Northern California lies a lake called Lake Berryessa. For those of you who don’t know what Lake Berryessa is, it’s a lake with a hole in it that operates as a drain for the Monticello Dam in Napa Valley. The dam can hold approximately 526 billion gallons of water before it ultimately overflows. People who live in the area become increasingly concerned when the area experiences heavy rainfall, because any spillway lands in the nearby Putah Creek, which can create a lot of flooding.
This lake is mesmerizing enough to have made an appearance in the James Bond movie. One day, an onlooker was using his drone to take photos and captured an interesting hole in the lake. The man was of course completely taken back by what he had seen. We can’t blame him, it’s not every day that you see a hole in the middle of a lake. He was eager to post the photo on the internet, and once he did, it spread like wildfire.
Something Completely Unexpected
The man who captured it all is popular on YouTube, who is known to use his drone quite frequently. His name is Evan Kilkus. He was working at Lake Berryessa at the time of his discovery.
One day he was out with his drone and when he was going through the photos he took, he was absolutely blown away at what he had captured.
Evan Kilkus was someone who we like to call a drone enthusiast. Drones are able to capture things that most people cannot, from an aerial view. Lake Berryessa is a spot that everyone should stop to see if they are in the area. Evan had all the equipment he needed to capture this amazing body of water. He just didn’t have any idea as to what the photos would reveal.
While employed at the lake, Evan worked at a water sports rental shop. You would think that he would know the ins and outs of the lake like the back of his hand and so did he. Evan is an adrenaline junkie at heart so in his spare time he would go on a ton of adventures with his drone. That day he captured something that would shock everyone.
A Mysterious Hole
While up in the air, Evan saw something odd while he was flying his drone over the lake. He saw what appeared to be a very large hole on the surface of the lake. This of course intrigued him, and he wanted to get a closer look.
As he flew his drone closer, he was amazed at how a body of water could have a hole in it. It defied the basic laws of science. He was stunned. How could a body of water possibly have a hole in it?
A Strange Vortex
Just as anyone would think, Evan thought maybe his eyes were playing tricks on him. People wondered how it got there and where the water was flowing to.
Some people thought that there was possibly a drain at the bottom, and someone pulled the plug. With all these unanswered questions that peaked Evan’s curiosity, he was determined to get to the bottom of it and uncover the answers.
A World Of Possibilities
Because the hole had clearly defied all logic, Evan’s interest in it increased. This was something that you would think you could only see in the movies.
It could maybe be described as a portal to another dimension. Evan couldn’t wait to undercover what was really going on down below.
Taking A Closer Look
Evan flew his drone closer to the massive hole so he could explore it. He began by flying it around the perimeter to see if he could notice anything that maybe shouldn’t be there.
He was hoping that he’d find something so that he could further investigate it and find some answers. However, he quickly regretted his decision to get closer once he realized where the hole led to.
As Kilkus’ drone began to hover over the hole, the screen began to experience a malfunction. He noticed that the controls were flashing and couldn’t understand why this was happening.
He decided to bring the drone back to take a look at what could possibly be causing this glitch.
What Did He See?
Evan thought it may have been something serious, however, once he inspected the drone further, he realized that the battery was just low. This unforeseen force that created the hole had been pulling his drone deeper and deeper into it.
He decided to leave it alone for now, but decided to see what the drone had picked up. What he discovered blew him away.
In Need Of More Evidence
Before Evan’s drone was about to die, he was lucky enough to be able to get a close-up shot of the mesmerizing hole. However, it still wasn’t close enough to see what was going on down below. He didn’t want to risk getting injured by swimming out to it.
He sent his drone out one more time before he had come to the realization that he wouldn’t be able to find out more without getting some help.
Searching For Answers
He made sure he was fully prepared for his second venture out to the mysterious hole. He fixed his battery problem and made his way out one more time. He knew that this hole had quite the gravitational pull, so he needed to be careful how close he let his drone get to it.
He also wanted to do a little research. He thought maybe he wasn’t the only one who had seen it before. He did some digging on the web to see what he could find about this mysterious hole that appeared in Lake Berryessa.
Widening The Search
While scouring the internet for more information, Evan came across some details and facts about the history of the lake that he hadn’t previously known.
With that being said, he was unable to find any pictures that looked like the hole he captured with his drone. He had become confused as to why it seemed like he was the only one who had seen it.
Through The Past, Darkly
What Evan discovered on the internet was that in 1997, a woman named Emily Schwalek was swimming in Lake Berryessa when she was sucked into a whirlpool that seemed to come out of nowhere.
She tried desperately to cling to anything and everything around her for about 20 minutes. Sadly, she didn’t survive the horrific incident. Unfortunately, he didn’t find out what had caused the hole. But when he would, it would surely surprise him.
When he took his drone out for the second time across the beautiful Lake Berryessa, he tried to get as close as he possibly could. Based off the images the drone took, he had determined that the hole was approximately 72 feet in diameter. He had become obsessed with what he had found, and wanted to know more.
He needed to find out more. Since he read the story about Emily, he knew that it wouldn’t be possible to get too close without potentially losing his life. It was impossible to know exactly how far the hole went down. What he did find, surpassed his expectations.
The Word Spread
As time went on, more and more people noticed the same mysterious hole that Evan did. People could even see it as they were driving along the road. There aren’t too many things that will catch your eye quite like seeing a hole in a body of water.
Of course, it didn’t take long for word to spread like wildfire about the hole in the lake. This was right about the time that it caught the eye of Kevin King, who is the operations manager for the county’s water facilities.
King thought that the circumstances were highly unusual. He said, “I went up there the other day and there were about 15 drones flying around and people taking videos.” “It’s really dramatic to watch.” We can imagine how incredible that must’ve been to witness.
The local authorities were about to investigate and release information on what could have possibly caused this interesting hole in the lake. It wouldn’t take long for not only Evan, but everyone in the community to find out exactly what he had discovered on his adventure.
A Man-Made Lake
If you didn’t already know, California has very few water resources. Lake Berryessa is one of the largest man-made lakes in America. It was created along with Napa's Monticello Dam, and has the beautiful Vaca Mountains all around it.
This provides hydroelectricity to the North Bay region of the San Francisco Bay area. Evan Kilkus and others would eventually discover that the same engineers who worked on the lake were to blame for the hole in it.
The Water Provider
Lake Berryessa is known for more than just a place to sight see. The water from the Monticello Dam is very important, because the 526 billion of gallons of water are used for drinking and irrigation.
It also has serves another purpose, which affects a very large portion of the population in northern California. Over 600,000 people reap the benefits of the water. Little did everyone know that the mysterious hole had something to do with providing everyone's water.
A Bizarre Spillway
When it rained, the water would rise and could cause a lot of flooding. Something needed to be done to avoid that. The architects made sure that the lake had a spillway in the design of the lake. The spillway was built so that it was set into the walls of the dam, however, this one was very different than any other spillway.
Lake Berryessa is a very narrow lake, so it would have been hard, if not impossible, to build a traditional dam wall with a spillway. It would have cost way too much money to bore into the sides of the mountain surrounding the lake, so the engineers came up with another odd, yet smart solution.
Lake Berryessa is essentially like a living creature. However, it breathes in water instead of air. The engineers who built the lake needed to ensure that the water didn’t flood and also make sure that the dam continued to run into the Putah Creek. The functioning of the local infrastructure depended on it.
The engineers needed to somehow work around the waterways. They needed to somehow create a funnel between Lake Berryessa and Putah Creek which was a difficult task. People didn’t always understand what it was exactly, and for good reason.
When the weather was normal in California, the water would tend to be low enough that no one had to ever really worry about flooding into the spillway. This seemed to be a trend for roughly a decade, due to a record-breaking drought. This, of course, caused the water levels to be much lower than normal.
The stone “bell-mouth”, which was the entrance to the funnel in the dam, was now able to be used by skateboarders to practice. But out of nowhere, something major happened, and it’s the mysterious thing Evan had discovered.
Before everyone’s eyes, the drought suddenly came to a screeching halt when California started to experience a ton of rain. There were some things that benefited from all this rain, and the wine-producing Napa region that surrounded Lake Berryessa was one of them.
The vineyards took a pretty nasty hit during the drought, and they weren’t producing hardly at all. However, things at Lake Berryessa were a little different. There had been so much rain filling the lake that it reached its’ maximum capacity. This caused something amazing to happen, which caught the attention of locals and tourists alike.
A Giant Drain
When the water of Lake Berryessa becomes 440 feet over sea level, the water floods the spillway funnel and suddenly disappears, coming out on the other side of the dam. On a smaller scale, it’s like what happens when you pull the drain out of your kitchen sink after washing dishes.
A giant hole appears out of nowhere in the lake. This hole measures 28 feet at the base and 75 feet across. That is pretty big! When the water passes through, it drops down more than 200 feet out of the lake. This raised a lot of questions, one of the most important being, how dangerous could this hole be to those who got close to it when it opened up?
An Intimidating View
When you first see it, it looks like something out of a movie. And in the movie, you would expect some thrilling moment where someone gets sucked into it and doesn’t make it out alive. However, the engineers who built this structure knew that it could be a liability, so they kept that in mind when constructing it.
They had built guard barriers in the water surrounding it so in an attempt to keep people away from it. An onlooker wouldn’t notice these barriers since they are in the water. Even though these barriers exist, it is known to have a deadly past. Although Evan Kilkus and his drone friend were able to capture some pretty amazing footage and photos, the risks just may surprise you.
Not So Dangerous
After speaking with experts, they claim that the hole in Lake Berryessa is not all that dangerous, as long as people don’t get too close to it while they are swimming. Although it has such a large capacity, its pull isn’t as strong as you would think. It’s certainly quite the intimidating structure.
The lake flooded with over 30 feet of water when California experienced sudden bouts of rain. Even with the flooding, the average swimmer would typically be strong enough to swim away from the spillway. However, there was something else that was pretty rare and different about the spillway hole at Lake Berryessa.
An Architectural Rarity
Evan Kilkus uploaded the video footage he captured with his drone to his YouTube channel. As viewers began watching it, they probably weren’t totally sure what they were looking at. People were very confused at what they were watching, but also intrigued. It may have seemed like an isolated phenomenon, and truthfully, it was.
The bellmouth shaped spillway is also referred to as the, “glory hole” is pretty rare to see. In the entire world, there are only a handful of spillways that were constructed in a similar fashion. You would find them in places that you did not expect to see them.
Spillways And Beyond
Evan was in the right place at the right time, and didn’t even know it. He was able to capture something that was so rare to see, as well as capturing a rare architectural design. A bell-mouth spillway is fairly uncommon, but it’s able to funnel a large amount of water while still maintaining a pretty steady flow. This spillway was the only one of its kind in the entire state.
If you want to travel to other areas of the world to see similar spillways, you can head to England, Montana, Hong Kong, and Japan. As previously stated, these spillways are not normally dangerous, but there was at least one known spillway that ended badly.
Napa County Crisis
The heavy rains main have been flooding the spillway, but that wasn’t the only catastrophe that people were worried about. There was a lake called Lake Oroville, and it was almost the same as Lake Berryessa, but with some minor differences. The similarities included that it was a man-made body of water, the dam was rather large, and it had a spillway. This spillway was designed much differently than the one in Lake Berryessa.
The waters had increased and it began to flood out of the dam, and became a threat to those living in the area. A whopping 18,000 people had to evacuate. Even though that was all going on, there were still more surprises to come for Evan back at Lake Berryessa.
At first, Evan didn’t realize how rare what he captured was. It didn’t take long for other people in the area to notice the same thing. The word about the hole in Lake Berryessa was spreading like wildfire. People were flooding the area after Evan’s YouTube video had people in awe.
There were tons of people and drones flying around trying to capture this rare sighting. This wouldn’t be the only time he stumbled upon something amazing.
Northern California News Headlines
Roughly half a year later after Evan discovered the “glory hole” in Lake Berryessa, Napa County was hit with something that would lodge him straight back into the news headlines. Evan was fast asleep on the night of October 8th. Around 11:30 PM he was awakened by many frantic and concerned text messages from people who were checking on him to see how he was.
He was so confused by the text messages that he had to see what was going on. When he got the news about what had happened, he knew that he needed to get there fast.
Up In Flames
On the night of October 8th there was a terrible forest fire. This wasn’t uncommon, seeing as in the fall of 2017 both Northern and Southern California were hit by numerous wild fires, making them the worst in the state’s history. This particular forest fire had broken out in three points across Evan’s county.
The wind was gusting enough in the Lake Berryessa area to cause to fires to spread like crazy. They were spreading so fast that Evan was concerned they would reach his home. Something needed to be done to stop this, and it needed to be done fast.
Napa Is In Danger
The fires were so bad that the local residents surrounding Lake Berryessa were encouraged to pack their belongings and move to a safe area. Napa County’s wildfires were about to make history, if they hadn’t already. Evan Kilkus’ father thought that the fires were dangerous enough to reach his home as well, so he also joined the other local residents who decided to flee their homes over the first couple days of the wildfires.
Although everyone was leaving the area for safety at a shelter nearby, Evan was staying. But why? What could he possibly think he was going to do?
People all around the area had fled and left most of their cherished belongings and homes behind. However, Evan Kilkus understood and felt that he needed to stick around for the sake of his community. He knew that he had a responsibility that not many other people had. In addition to working at the rental shop at Lake Berryessa, he was also a member of the local fire safety council for that area. As with most things in his life, he took this role very seriously.
In an effort to warn everyone in the area of the terrible conditions, he sent out mass text messages and posted on the internet that an evacuation was a must. The wind patterns at the time were showing that they were about to head directly in the direction of the residents and their homes. Then, Evan did the unimaginable.
Before they knew it, there was a public call made for all of the locals of the Berryessa Highlands to evacuate and move to shelters somewhat nearby. The residents didn’t have too much time and needed to grab their belongings and move quickly. The only person staying behind was Evan because he had a plan put in place.
Evan’s father grabbed what he could before leaving. Once he left, Evan arrived at his dad’s place with an important idea in mind. He knew that this idea could possibly help his community, even if he wasn’t a firefighter. Instead of using his drone, he decided to use his phone this time.
As you’ve probably gathered by now, Evan Kilkus had quite a few years under his belt using his drone to capture photos. In fact, he had become a YouTube sensation for it. Usually he would use it while he was on adventures and exploring the unknown.
The information that he was about to uncover and would provide to the local residents would be very important. Firefighters, even ones that had flown in from other countries, came in to battle the flames. Evan stayed behind to monitor the fires and see in which direction they would be going in.
In Need Of Some Help
You wouldn’t expect Evan to sit back and just observe the fires, and he didn’t. He took photos of the fire surrounding Lake Berryessa. He worked in shifts, sleeping a minimum amount of time so that he could monitor the progress of the fires. He wanted to be sure that they didn’t make it over the ridge of the hills, which were only about a mile away. He captured and recorded everything when he was awake and posted it on social media to share with the locals, especially.
He utilized Facebook Live mostly for the residents who lived in the area and were worried about their homes. He knew that this would relieve some stress for those who were concerned that they were going to lose everything they worked so hard for. But nothing comes easy, and everything was working against him.
Going The Extra Mile
It was obvious that Evan didn’t really care about his safety all that much. Nor did he really care whether or not his property was lost in the fire. He was more concerned about taking the photos and posting them to social media to update the Lake Berryessa residents. He was going the extra mile to deliver the information that the people so desperately wanted.
Power lines were going out all over the place. Because of that, Evan had to go back and forth between his place and his dad’s while using a generator to keep everything charged. There was only one transmitter on Atlas Peak that was functioning. He had limited service and half a battery life left when an unbelievable request came in for him to fulfill.
Yet Another Mission
People were very relieved to see that their homes and properties hadn’t been destroyed, but they had another request that would be difficult for Evan. You may be wondering, what happened to the pets that belonged to the residents? People were messaging Evan asking him if he would be able to take care of their pets until the fires were gone and they could return home.
Evan had essentially become a hero. Why? He was able to feed around 20 different pets which included, birds, cats, and fish. But he was only one person and couldn’t do everything. Soon enough, the area was about to see all the damage that was done to the place that they call home.
Very Grateful People
The community was so incredibly grateful for everything Evan had done for them, that they set up a GoFundMe page to cover the cost of expenses he had during the wildfires. Evan wasn’t doing it for the money, he was doing it because he genuinely cared about the community and the people who lived in it. He gave the donations, totaling over $6,000, to the people who had lost everything.
It was very sad to hear when the people learned that more than 40 lost their lives in the wildfires, including six in the Napa County area. Evan had gained a lot of fame from this, but something else was about to come up that would give him even more recognition. Something that was related to an event that had happened half a year ago.
Evan's Big Break
Evan had no idea that his entire world was going to change forever, due to the simple discovery of the glory hole. He would’ve never thought in a million years that his YouTube channel would go from having a few thousand views to well over 14 million. It didn’t take long for Evan to become a sensation on the internet.
People were in awe over his discovery at Lake Berryessa. It’s not something that you see every day. It was just by chance that he happened to be in the right place at the right time. What a lucky guy!