A dispatch from the Marina del Rey historical society

By Willie Hjorth

This aerial photo taken during the construction of Marina del Rey shows the formerly landlocked Mud Lake

This aerial photo taken during the construction of Marina del Rey shows the formerly landlocked Mud Lake

The February 1956 issue of Speed and Spray, a vintage power-boating magazine, wrote about the success of a televised race in Marina del Rey known as the Speedboat Rodeo.

“Certainly all the drivers of Valley Speedboat Association and other clubs deserve not only just the thanks of sponsors and producers, but from all boat racing members all over the country, because what is being done here on the small sporty lake in Los Angeles will influence the entire racing fraternity.”

Less than a decade later, that “sporty lake”— known as Lake Los Angeles, or Mud Lake to locals — would become the popular Marina del Rey attraction we now call Marina “Mother’s” Beach.

Histories of Marina del Rey repeatedly refer to Mud Lake as a swamp-water pond used for early small sailboat races as well as power-boating and waterskiing. The Muddy Feet Regatta, perhaps Marina del Rey’s first organized boat race, began as early sailors tell of wading through the mud with their boats to start the races on about four feet of water.

Jim Hokanson (who founded Hokanson’s Sails in 1962) tells of sailing and water-skiing on Mud Lake, possibly formed as a result of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers cementing the walls of Ballona Creek to control the constant flooding of the area.

A 1950s photo shows “D” Basin dredging to connect the old Mud Lake to the Marina. Later sand was imported to form Mothers’ Beach on the former banks of Mud Lake.

Today, Mother’s Beach is a favorite canoe and paddleboat launch spot where adventure seekers can also try windsurfing and kayaking — not all that much different from the old days, when you think about it.

To see more Marina del Rey history, visit the Marina del Rey Historical Society at Fisherman’s Village, 13737 Fiji Way, Ste. C3. Open noon to 4 p.m. daily. Call (310) 701-1073. The organization celebrates its official grand opening from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 10, an event that will include food and live music.

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