Signs of the past

Sun City’s other man made lake

Posted 6/18/21

Sun City crossed Grand Avenue to begin Phase 2 in 1969, and the new development was unlike anything in Arizona.

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Signs of the past

Sun City’s other man made lake


Sun City crossed Grand Avenue to begin Phase 2 in 1969, and the new development was unlike anything in Arizona.

First, it featured a lake — the first in a residential subdivision in Arizona. On the south shore would be a “mountain” park with beautiful vistas and a tall waterfall. There would be new model homes with 2-car garages, patios and atriums. Most distinctive were the circles that appeared in various design forms. All of this commanded a great deal of attention. 

The fact a second lake was being created just a few blocks away went largely unnoticed. This lake would lack the community amenities of Viewpoint Lake and be a private lake owned by the residents of the homes around it. Named Dawn Lake, it was slightly larger and would have 143 homes compared to 81 on Viewpoint Lake.

The Recreation Centers of Sun City-owned and operated Viewpoint Lake would serve as a reservoir for watering of nearby Lakes West Golf Course, 10433 W. Talisman Road, and Dawn Lake would provide water for Lakes East Golf Course, also on Talisman Road. Water for the first lake originally came from a well located at Sunland while Dawn Lake’s water came from a well owned by the RCSC and located next to JiMichael’s Restaurant, 13039 N. 103rd Ave.

An aerial view shows how Dawn Lake winds around four peninsulas. Originally, the northern two of these, Lake Shore Point and Driftwood Point, stretched further into the lake. As excavation proceeded, the two points were each cut back four lots, making the lake wider around them.

It is known that earth removed to create Viewpoint Lake was used to create the “mountain” on the south shore, and to build the mound that Banner Boswell Medical Center, 10401 W. Thunderbird Blvd., sits upon. But where did the earth from Dawn Lake go?

While some may have been used around the hospital, most was trucked east on Thunderbird Boulevard to the area between 94th Avenue and the New River. That land sloped gradually to the riverbed and was being raised and leveled for development.

Within a few years of its creation, Dawn Lake had a weed problem and a solution other than chemicals was sought. Winn Winkyaw, who had supervised 1,300 miles of canals for the Salt River Project, was brought in to manage the lake and recommended the use of fish to control the weeds. Aeration was added for the benefit of the fish, and as a result, fishing for bass, bluegills, catfish and tilapia became a popular activity. The cleaner water also makes swimming possible.

As might be expected, those living on the lake own a variety of watercraft, including pontoon boats, kayaks, sailboats and paddle-boards. Boats are limited to 16 feet in length, electric motors and speeds of 5 mph. Decorating boats for the Christmas boat parade is a popular annual activity. Two pair of resident swans and five distinctive fountains make Dawn Lake a beautiful place to live year-round.

Editor’s Note: Mr. Allen is a local historian and author of a book detailing the history of Sun City West. He is a former president of the Del Webb Sun Cities Museum.