Agua Caliente, Boyes Hot Springs, El Verano, Fetters Hot Springs, Now and Then, Photographs, Resorts, Wonders and Marvels

“Picturing the Springs”-an exhibit at the Depot Park Museum in Sonoma

Opening September 10, 2022

In a sense, this exhibit is a follow-up to Michael Acker’s book “The Springs, Resort Towns of Sonoma Valley,” (Arcadia Publishing, 2017) with many more photographs and ephemera, and in color. Here is a small preview.





Thanks to the Sonoma Valley Historical Society for assistance, especially Lorrie Baetge Fulton, Patricia Cullinan, Kate Shertz, Peter Meyerhoff, Roy Tennant, and Lynn Downey, and for images, and access to the Index Tribune archive.

Thanks also to the many community members who have shared their memories and photographs with the author.

Standard
Agua Caliente, nature, Neighborhood Phenomena, Wonders and Marvels

Neighborhood Phenomena: Plants

Observed within a few blocks of each other, two volunteers and a planting. The first one is a small agave planted in a hole in the sidewalk. A valiant effort indeed. Given Caltrans and/or Sonoma County’s neglect of these areas, it may survive a while. The second one looks like volunteer tomatoes springing up at a storm drain. I hope that’s what they are! Third is a humble little California poppy growing in a crack between the curb and sidewalk. Symbolic of California today?

Bonus photo: Tiny calendula in the asphalt, Arroyo Rd., BHS
Standard
Agua Caliente, Architecture, Boyes Hot Springs, Fetters Hot Springs, History, nature, Trees

The Filterra Report

This is not a Filterra, but a similar product, installed on Rancho Drive near the intersection of Elaine’s Way.

Filterra units were installed as part of the sidewalk and streetlight project started under Redevelopment in 2009.

What is a Filterra?

What do they do?

Were the wrong plants used?

Has maintenance ever been done?

Are the missing plants going to be replaced?

Do the plants get watered in the dry season?

According to the brochure:

“Filterra  is an engineered high-performance bioretention

system.” What is a bioretention system? Read on.

Location:El Molino restaurant at Central Ave.

How does Filterra work? Again, from the brochure:

“Stormwater enters the Filterra through a pipe, curb inlet, or sheet flow and ponds over the pretreatment mulch layer,

capturing heavy sediment and debris. Organics and microorganisms within the mulch trap and degrade metals and

hydrocarbons. The mulch also provides water retention for the system’s vegetation.

2. Stormwater flows through engineered Filterra media which filters fine pollutants and nutrients. Organic material in the

media removes dissolved metals and acts as a food source for root-zone microorganisms. Treated water exits through an

underdrain pipe or infiltrates (if designed accordingly).

3. Rootzone microorganisms digest and transform pollutants into forms easily absorbed by plants.

4. Plant roots absorb stormwater and pollutants that were transformed by microorganisms, regenerating the media’s

pollutant removal capacity. The roots grow, provide a hospitable environment for the rootzone microorganisms and

penetrate the media, maintaining hydraulic conductivity.

5. The plant trunk and foliage utilize nutrients such as Nitrogen and Phosphorus for plant health, sequester heavy metals into

the biomass, and provide evapotranspiration of residual water within the system.”

They filter out contaminants in storm water using plants, soil, and microorganisms. Clear?


Page one of the Storm Water Treatment Plan of the Highway 12 Redevelopment project for sidewalks and streetlights. Dated 9/30/08. The table lists eight Filterra units. This is for the first phase of the project. When the entire project was done, there were twenty-one.

Page two shows the units near Thompson St. the drawing shows two units at the parking lot. Only one was installed.

Filterra locations

There were two problems from the start: the trees were not watered, or not watered enough, in the months after they were planted, and they were repeatedly vandalized. Well, three problems actually. Some of the units were installed in sidewalks so narrow that you couldn’t easily push a baby carriage around them or walk two-abreast around them. This is particularly glaring on the west side of the bridge over Pequeno Creek.

The units on the Pequeño Creek bridge, west side. the removal of the tree in the foreground might be considered a practical adaptation rather than vandalism.

From the “Common Issues” section of the brochure:

“the most apparent sign of an issue with a Filterra is dead vegetation. A dead tree will not absorb any pollutants through its roots. If you notice any of these issues occurring in your system, or if you have recently installed a unit that needs maintenance, it’s time to call AQUALIS. Our maintenance and repair teams will ensure that your Filterra units are regularly inspected and operating at peak efficiency,” and

 “Typically, using vegetation that naturally grows in the area is the best option, and there are specific plants required by the manufacturer. If you notice that the plant in your system is dying, it may be because the wrong type of vegetation is being used.” What species were used? I know one of the units contains nandina domestica, a decidedly non-native plant that has toxic berries and is considered invasive in some places in the U.S.

Current conditions of the plants in the Filterra units: 12 alive, 5 vandalized but still alive, 4 completely missing.


In 2021 your correspondent had this exchange with Supervisor Gorin’s office about maintenance along the highway.

My original question:

Hello, 

Can you tell me who has responsibility for the areas between the sidewalks and the building along the highway in the Springs? These areas are always full of weeds and look terrible. A Caltrans worker told me the County was responsible per an agreement. At any rate, nobody is paying attention to them. Also those “Filterra” trees need attention. Thanks!, Mike

From: Karina.Garcia@sonoma-county.org

Mike,

Below the response from TPW:

…the trees in the filterra bioswales in the sidewalk are the responsibility of the county.  Evidently, these trees have been repeatedly destroyed/broken by the public.  Anything behind the sidewalk is the responsibility of each property owner.  This means that the property owners are responsible for the grass strips noted below.  Thanks!

Let us know if we may be of further assistance.

Kindly,

Karina

From: Mike Acker <ackermichael6@gmail.com
Sent: Sunday, November 7, 2021 8:59 PM
To: Karina Garcia <Karina.Garcia@sonoma-county.org>
Cc: Arielle Kubu-Jones <Arielle.Kubu-Jones@sonoma-county.org>; Hannah Whitman <Hannah.Whitman@sonoma-county.org>
Subject: Re: Highway 12 jurisdiction

EXTERNAL

Thanks you Karina, 

I’m very impressed that you work on Sunday, but do get some rest!:)

Mike

On Nov 7, 2021, at 8:52 PM, Karina Garcia <Karina.Garcia@sonoma-county.org> wrote:

Dear Mike,

On behalf of Supervisor Gorin thank you reaching out and bringing this matter to our attention. We also thank you for providing a clear description and picture.

Your email was shared with our Caltrans contacts as well as Sonoma County Transportation and Public Works. I am including Arielle Kubu-Jones and Hannah Whitman from our office for follow up, as I will be out of the office for a week starting Tuesday.


Kindly,

Karina

My answer: Thanks for your reply Karina. That the areas in question are the responsibility of the property owners does not square with the fact that Caltrans cleaned up a large strip in Agua Client a few months ago. At the time, the worker told me it was really the county’s responsibility, but they were doing it. However, if it really is the responsibility of the property owners, how can the County help inform and coordinate efforts at clean up and beatification? Whoever has the legal responsibility, it’s a community matter that effects us all. We fought long and hard for the sidewalks and street lights and are happy to have them, but these eyesore diminish that positive impact. Below is an example of the cleanup Caltrans did in July.  (Image)

Actually, Caltrans was cleaning up the sidewalk of debris that has fallen from the private property along side. But my comment about this being a community matter, no matter who is responsible for what, stands. The County should lead on this, as on many other matters on which they are hands–off.


A Tour of The Filterras

Standard
Agua Caliente, Boyes Hot Springs, Photographs, Resorts, Springs Historic Photo Database

New to the Springs Historic Photo Database

ACSpringsDiningRoom

1916. Gaslights possibly converted to electricity, which came in in 1913.

BoyesPoolsnapshot

Date unknown. The pool was covered in the 1950s.

KoenigisStore1914

1914. The viewer is standing approximately where the parking lot behind the post office is now. The red building on the right is Graham’s Store, the location of the first post office in Boyes.

SonomaProperties

18340 sonoma Highway. burned down in 1979. See the post “The Greengrass Bldg.”

Standard
Agua Caliente, Boyes Hot Springs, El Verano, Fetters Hot Springs, History, Place Names/Street Names

Sonoma Highway

UPDATE at the end of the post.

Highway 12 is thought by Breck Parkman, retired State Parks archeologist, to have originally been a mammoth trail from the valley that is now the Bay out to the Russian River.

Deseno

 

The Diseño is a hand-drawn map showing the boundaries of a land grant, used in Alta California during the Mexican period. Several were drawn for the Rancho Agua Caliente, which encompassed the Springs area. Ecological historian Arthur Dawson interprets it this way:

“The mission is on the far right, Hwy 12 route is marked ‘camino de sonoma’–For some reason it changes from grey to red just west of ‘Portuzuelo’, which means a pass or a gap and I would bet refers to the area around the CalFire station by the Regional Park. In a car it’s not very noticeable, but on foot or horseback it does qualify as a pass. Also notice the Casa de Rancho, somewhere near Fiesta Market; Agua Caliente; and ‘siembra’ which means ‘plowed field. Arroyo Grande is Sonoma Creek. Corte de Madera is the neighborhood of Atwood Ranch. ‘Arroyo de los Guilucos’ =Nunn’s Canyon. Outline of the ranch is in red as is part of the road, which is a little confusing. But once you know that it makes sense.”

streetmap2

California State Highway 12, know as Sonoma Highway from the Town of Sonoma to Santa Rosa, once referred to as the Santa Rosa Road, is the main street of the old resort area of Sonoma Valley, including Boyes Hot Springs, Fetters Hot Springs, and Agua Caliente. Only a little west of the Highway is El Verano, the fourth settlement in the resort quartet. The entire road runs from Sebastopol in the west, to the town of San Andreas in the Gold Country to the east. In Napa County it runs through the Carneros region. It was there that photographer Charles O’Rear snapped the picture that was to become “Bliss,” the Microsoft screen saver that some claim is the most viewed photograph in history (see note.)

SonomaHwySpainSt

Sonoma Highway at Spain St. in Sonoma

According to Californiahighways.org (a massive resource!):

“Historically, this route is close to the original “El Camino Real” (The Kings Road). A portion of this route has officially been designated as part of “El Camino Real.

The portion of this route running through Sonoma County is called the “Valley of the Moon Scenic Route“. “Valley of the Moon” was the name Jack London, resident of Glen Ellen, coined for this area. The first such sign with this name is when the Farmers Lane portion ends in Santa Rosa.

South of the town of Sonoma, Route 12 is called Broadway until it intersects Route 121 near Schellville. Route 12/Route 121 to Napa County is called alternately “Fremont Drive” or “Carneros Highway.” The latter term continues into Napa County.“https://www.cahighways.org/009-016.html#012

Hwy12CalsitogaSign

At Calistoga Rd. in Santa Rosa.

SantaRosaRd1887

  1. First mention in the IT of the “Santa Rosa Road.”

P.L. McGill, Road Overseer of the township, in addition to the improvements on the Napa road, mention of which was made a few weeks ago, has just finished repairing the Petaluma road from Agnew’s Lane to the dividing line between Sonoma and Vallejo townships. This piece of road, which has been a terror to wagon spokes and horse flesh in times past, is now in fine traveling condition. Mr. McGill at present is engaged in grading from Gibson’s to Drummond’s on the Santa Rosa road and eventually expects to have every bad road in his township in a through state of repair.

ProHighway1917

In 1917, arguing for highway improvements, the IT states “There were beaten paths to the hot springs a century ago and as far back as 1850, the Sonoma Bulletin began the plea for a better connecting link through the Sonoma Valley to Santa Rosa.”

On these maps of Agua Caliente from 1888, the road from Sonoma to Santa Rosa is called Main Street.

AguaCalienteMapSoCoJeff'sOldMapweb

In 1938 Bessie L. Mantifel applied for a liquor license for her Hollywood Inn, located on W. S. State Highway #12, El Verano, Sonoma County.

Hwy12First1938

HollywoodInnAd2

Promotional match book covers and brochures had maps inside.

 

Before the 1964 renumbering, this route was signed as Sign Route 12 for most of its length. However, SR 12 was designated as Legislative Route 51 (LR 51) from SR 116 to SR 121.

1940CensusMapsmcrop

1940 Census map.

Note on “Bliss”:

In January 1996 former National Geographic photographer Charles O’Rear was on his way from his home in St. Helena, California, in the Napa Valley north of San Francisco, to visit his girlfriend, Daphne Irwin (whom he later married), in the city, as he did every Friday afternoon. He was working with Irwin on a book about the wine country. He was particularly alert for a photo opportunity that day, since a storm had just passed over and other recent winter rains had left the area especially green.[4] Driving along the Sonoma Highway (California State Route 12 and 121) he saw the hill, free of the vineyards that normally covered the area; they had been pulled out a few years earlier following a phylloxera infestation.[5] “There it was! My God, the grass is perfect! It’s green! The sun is out; there’s some clouds,” he remembered thinking. He stopped somewhere near the NapaSonomacounty line and pulled off the road to set his Mamiya RZ67 medium-format camera on a tripod, choosing Fujifilm‘s Velvia, a film often used among nature photographers and known to saturate some colors.[1][6] O’Rear credits that combination of camera and film for the success of the image. “It made the difference and, I think, helped the ‘Bliss’ photograph stand out even more,” he said. “I think that if I had shot it with 35 mm, it would not have nearly the same effect.”[7] While he was setting up his camera, he said it was possible that the clouds in the picture came in. “Everything was changing so quickly at that time.” He took four shots and got back into his truck.[4][8] According to O’Rear, the image was not digitally enhanced or manipulated in any way. [9

Over the next decade it has been claimed to be the most viewed photograph in the world during that time.[3] Other photographers have attempted to recreate the image, some of which have been included in art exhibitions. Wikipeidia

Paste copy of cease and desist order from Microsoft here.

 

Index Tribune courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society

Diseño courtesy Bancroft Library

2nd Agua Caliente map courtesy Jeff Gilbert

In 1924 we celebrated the opening of the newly paved highway. It was quite a grand event! Chairman of the State Highway Commission Harvey Toy is mentioned. There is a Toy Lane in Boyes Hot Springs.

Hwy12Celebration1924

 

Standard
Agua Caliente, Art, Valley of the Moon Main Stem Project

New to the Main Stem Project

Collage 22 Revision

Collage 22 Revision. Location is Mountain Avenue and Highway 12. At the left is an image of the Clementi Inn from around 1910 interwoven with an image of its demolition in 2009. In the center is part of a post card for the Vienna Garden restaurant and resort, circa 1940s. Revisions occur when current conditions change or new historic photos are found. For this collage it’s the later. A post card of Zwikl’s resort, which was at the current location of the salon, just to the left of Vienna Garden, was found.

 

Standard