A fiesta on Mothers Day, 2019:Mariachi in Boyes Hot Springs. https://youtu.be/fUv7VsVHFw4
With thanks to artist Jack Baker
One of the main objects of the Springs Museum is the study of Neighborhood Phenomena.
Perhaps not to define it to precisely is best. However, we can say that NP may be exceptional things or mundane things seen in an exceptional way. Collecting (and it is an exercise in collecting) NP is an act of noticing, something that it is all to easy not to do in an environment that is so familiar as we pass through it daily.
Photography is a good mode for collecting NP, as is sketching, sound recording, rubbings, or actually picking up objects (but try not to disturb the environment. Observers should limit their impact on the world being observed.) Study over time is of interest, so repeated visits to sites are encouraged.
Here is a list of some of the possible categories to look at.
How trees and built environment interact
Signs. What they say, how they change.
Pavement and how is deteriorates.
Plants in all their many different forms
Animals among us, including pets
Infrastructure such as wires, drains, etc.
Design-everything built is designed, if only by default
Holes in the ground
Mounds of things
Further Inspiration: Artists as collectors. Collections as art:
“The mission of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is to inspire wonder, discovery and responsibility for our natural and cultural worlds.”
“Including those items is part of the museum’s effort at redefinition, although the curators were drawing on an eccentric set of collections that were never really part of the natural history tradition. The facade of the building still bears its original title: Los Angeles County Historical and Art Museum. In fact, the art collection became the heart of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in the early 1960s, when the “natural history” title was adopted.”
“It all adds up to a reminder that, even as the art historians have been slowly trying to squeeze the history out of their discipline, artists have been assiduously turning themselves into historians, archivists, even collectors of a sort.” Barry Schwabsky, the Nation April 2014
“As Ellen Dissanayake has observed, the function of art is to “make special”; as such, it can raise the “special” qualities of place embedded in everyday life, restoring them to those who created them…”
“A starting point, for artists or for anyone else, might be simply learning to look around where you live now…”
“Psychologist Tony Hiss asks us to measure our closeness to neighbors and community and suggests ways to develop an “experiential watchfulness” over our regional “sweet spots,” or favorite places. Seeing how they change at different times of day, week and year can stimulate local activism…”
Quotes from The Lure of the Local, Lucy R. Lippard
The collection, and, by extension, the museum is a work of art:
“Bottle Village began as a practical need to build a structure to store Grandma Prisbrey’s pencil collection (which eventually numbered 17,000) and a bottle wall to keep away the smell and dust from the adjacent turkey farm. However, it was her ability to have fun and infuse wit and whimsy into what she made, which over time became the essence of Bottle Village. Practicality alone would not explain The Leaning Tower of Bottle Village, the Dolls Head Shrine, car-headlight-bird-baths, and the intravenous-feeding-tube-firescreen, a few examples of her delightfully idiosyncratic creations.” From the Bottle Village website. http://www.bottlevillage.com/
In 1914, the Sonoma Vista Land Company, Harvey Toy, President, advertised in the San Francisco Examiner for a train excursion to Boyes Hot Springs:
“home sites $195 and up” and…”Boyes Springs mineral water served free on the grounds.”
Sonoma Vista was subdivision on the west side of Sonoma Creek, south of Boyes Blvd.
In January of 1918 the Index Tribune stated that “The bottling works of the now famed Boyes Springs Mineral Water has been put in the charge of Fred J. Hansen, popular musician and poultry man.” (A talented guy, apparently!) And “The management of the mineral water concern is no small matter as $25,000 worth of water was bottled and marketed last season.”
By 1925, the concern was managed by one H. Peterson, according to the IT. “Physician recommend the use of this water as a corrective for stomach and related troubles…Try a case and enthuse more and more over Boyes Springs,” the reporter stated, severely blurring the line between news and advertising.
Baseball players also enjoyed it, according to the Oakland Tribune in 1947:
The bottling plant, as shown on the County Recorder’s map of the Hotel Grounds subdivision, was adjacent to the Bath House near Boyes Blvd.
The building survived and has gone through a number of incarnations.
And inspired some art:
Images courtesy of Sonoma Valley Historical Society, Robert Parmelee, and the author’s collection.
The history of railroads in Sonoma Valley is complicated and confusing. It started in the 1860s and included at least 15 different companies, but by 1889 there we just two: the Santa Rosa and North Pacific, and the Northern Railway. The SR and NP became the Northwestern Pacific in 1907, and Southern Pacific subsumed the Northern in 1898. The NWP tracks were on the east side of Sonoma Creek, with a depot in Boyes Hot Springs, and SP on the west, stopping at El Verano. The old rights-of-way can be glimpsed in some places. Sierra Drive in Boyes is one location. See https://springsmuseum.org/2018/03/29/sierra-drive-meincke-road/
A precursor to the NWP, the Sonoma Valley Railroad, existed until 1889. In this schedule we see that it visited a stop called Pioneer Grove. This was the name used before Boyes Springs was used.
The railroads served the populace of San Francisco, primarily, who wished to spend warm summer days at the resorts. They came in their thousands by rail. But as early as 1920, the railroads were challenged by bus lines and automobiles. (The “auto-camp,” precursor to the motel, originated in the 1920s.) The Index Tribune reported in 1921 that executives of the NWP were considering new, modern electric cars on the Santa Rosa-San Rafael line to counter the competition from buses. To no avail. In 1930, the Glen Ellen depot was eliminated.
The editorial comment in the IT was prophetic. Rail service was gone by 1942.
Following is a collection of images of depots in Sonoma Valley, with some maps, which are courtesy of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society.
Southern Pacific depots:
Images courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society and the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society.