Drought unveils history at Vail Lake

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017
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David Wurst of Hemet has amassed a collection of artifacts from Vail Lake, as the receding waters reveal decades-old car keys, fishing rods, wallets and other lost items.

HEMET, Calif. (KABC) -- The old saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure" has come to life in David Wurst's backyard.

About three years ago the Hemet man started collecting items he found from nearby Vail Lake.

The lake has slowly retreated as the water level dropped - unveiling trash and treasures, some going back for decades.

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He calls his backyard collection the Vail Museum.

"I just have a love for the lake," Wurst said. "It's been good to me. I just wanted to save this stuff. I figured if I left it laying along the shoreline it might be destroyed and lost forever. So I thought I'd start this little museum here and share it with everyone."

The entrance is an archway made of old fishing rods. The collection includes old cameras, transistor radios, pocket knives, car keys, sunglasses.

He has 96 anchors, 100 rods and reels, wallets with credit cards that expired in 1972.

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The Vail Lake Dam that created the 1,100 acre lake was built in 1948, so he figures some of the items could date back more than 60 years.

Today the water level has dropped so low that boats aren't allowed to put into Vail Lake.

While Wurst is proud of his collection, he doesn't necessarily want to see it grow. That would mean the lake was continuing to disappear.

"Hopefully Mother Nature will cooperate and fill the lake back up," he said.