Some things are obviously mysterious, others only become so when you start to wonder. Some are just hidden and you have to be shown.
I have walked by the Mystery Pipe thousands of times, probably, and never given it a thought. Then I did. Not sure why. It’s an old, galvanized pipe or tank, about 12” in diameter, sticking out of the ground on the shoulder of Arroyo Road, near Verde Vista. It seems very solid and durable. What was its purpose? Perhaps it had something to do with an old water system, of which there were numerous over the course of the twentieth century in the Springs. It sits down the hill and not far from an old stone tank that was used in one of those systems.
Higher up on the hill is a hidden feature that may also have something to do with a water system. In the back yard of a house on Los Robles Dr. is an ancient (by settler standards) slab of concrete with the year “1890” cut into it. The location is also near the stone tank, a little higher in elevation. Could it have been the location of a pump house or well head? Stay tuned for a comprehensive post on the history of water systems in the area.
Further along Las Robles a neighbor told me that there had been a quarry on the hill. This would not be unusual. Our hills are all built on basalt and Sonoma is famous for the street paving blocks quarried there and used in San Francisco in the nineteenth century. Part way down the short side of the hill I saw something that I’d seen before, but now it had new meaning: on the embankment, a split boulder with what looks like a drill hole such as would be used in a quarry. The possible quarry actually has a water system connection. There was once another tank, off of Alberca St., just above the boulder (alberca means pool in Spanish). The tank site is a large flattened area. Maybe the area was leveled for the tank by blasting out rock, or the tank was built on the site of the old quarry. Investigations continue.
Photos by author and Google Maps.