Boyes Hot Springs, El Verano, Fetters Hot Springs, History, Photographs, Resorts, Uncategorized

Railroads in Sonoma Valley

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

NWP depots:

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Agua Caliente, year unknown

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A later Agua Caliente depot? Similar to Boyes Depot of 1923

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The name was changed to Boyes Hot Spring at least by 1908, but Model T production started in 1909, so perhaps all of the signs were not changed at one time.

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Marie and Elsie stand in front of a depot called “Boyes Springs,” in 1921. apparently the word “Hot” in the name came and went. This station was destroyed in the fire of 1923.

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1916 map showing the old hotel and the canal that ran down Pine Street.

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Still from the 1923 Harold Binney movie “Account of the no-account Count.” The film shows the train arriving at Fetters Springs.

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Boyes Hot Springs depot in 1942, the year service ended. The Woodleaf Store can be seen behind the depot.

 

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The Verano depot, across the creek from El Verano.

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Verano depot circa 1905

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Glen Ellen, year unknown.

Southern Pacific depots:

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Eldridge depot 1898

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El Verano, circa 1890s

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El Verano depot shortly after construction, 1880s

Images courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Historical Society and the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Historical Society.

 

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Boyes Hot Springs, El Verano, History, Photographs, Resorts, Springs Historic Photo Database

New to the Springs Historic Photo Database

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Probably around 1910

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His name is Gus. Post marked Boyes Hot Springs, but is this the Plaza? 1912

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The “Old Hotel.” Before 1923

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El Verano Villa. Near Verano Ave. and the creek.

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Gables Hotel. Exact location unknown.

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Sonoma Mission Inn, 1937, ten years after it was completed.

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Sonoma Grove, on the Highway between Sonoma and Boyes.

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Boyes Hot Springs, El Verano, Fetters Hot Springs, Photographs, Springs Historic Photo Database

New to the Springs Historic Photo Database: From the Ron Price Collection

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The porch at the Bellvue Hotel, El Verano, before 1911.

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Promenade at the Boyes springs Hotel, 1920.

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Boyes Resort Theater, 1921.

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Camp Grounds at Fetters Resort

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Hotel at Boyes Springs, 1920s

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Little Switzerland, El Verano, 1954

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Parente Resort, El Verano, before 1920

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Sonoma Mission Inn, Boyes Hot Springs, 1938

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St. Francis Villa boarding House, El Verano, 1915

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Architecture, Fetters Hot Springs, History, Now and Then, Photographs, Resorts, Uncategorized

Reclamation?

This is the key historic building still standing in Agua Caliente. Apparently undergoing demolition-by-neglect, it has, in August 2018, gotten a set of new windows and a paint job. We can only hope that the structure behind the stucco still has integrity.

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Before the new paint, the ghost of the word “Mexcian” could be seen near the sidewalk. Various restarants and markets have been housed in the building.

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After paint. The windows still have the factory sticker.

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In the days of Liexner’s Resort.

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And Nimpfer’s.

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History, Photographs, Resorts, Uncategorized

Caliente Villa

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Courtesy Robert Palmelee

The resort was located on the east side of Sonoma Highway, near the corner of what was then known as Sonoma Avenue, now Marin Avenue. The Agua Caliente post office was reportedly located in one of the resort buildings.

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Map courtesy of Jeff Gilbert

In a 1941 article, the Index Tribune located the resort across the road from (the old) Flowery School, which was at the corner of Vailetti Drive.

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In this alarming article from 1972, the address is listed as 17127 Sonoma Highway.

The founders of Caliente Villa in Agua Caliente are not known, but we do know the resort was owned by A. Nevraumont by 1917. Nevraumont was an early resort owner in El Verano, having established El Verano Villa before the turn of the 20th century.

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”My Great Uncle Joe Costa and My Great Uncle SFPD Officer Joe O’Rourke – Early 1930’s…Great Shot of Caliente Villa – Behind Them.” Jeff Gilbert via Facebook.

In 1923 the buildings changed hands.CalVilla1923Changeshands

CalienteVillaAdCourtesy Lynn Downey

In fact, the Villa went through many owners and managers. In 1920 Mrs. Lewis and Miss Ross were in charge. They…”have leased the (resort) and will conduct the popular springs resort on the apartment plan…” Along with “modern conveniences and comforts,” the new proprietors would provide “a long distance phone” and a “classy jazz orchestra!”

That same year, Lewis and Ross entertained “twenty four members of the Salt Lake City baseball team…Mrs. Lewis and Miss Ross were assisted by a number of young ladies…There was dancing, music and card playing…” and “everything was complimentary, including the smokes, and the boys report a swell time.”

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Courtesy California State Library

Jack Valente (his name is seen under Caliente Villa in the sign) ran the resort as of 1940. The term “auto camp,” however, was in use at least from the early 1920s. Automobile tourism in Sonoma Valley started before the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Note the dormers on the three buildings shown in the photo.

Several of the buildings were in existence in 1984 when Dan Peterson made his Historic Resource report for Redevelopment.

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The development proposal in 1986 probably resulted in the demolition of 17127, and it looks like the 20 multifamily units were indeed built.

17101 was still there in 2008.

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In 2018 only one survives (17123).

17111 Sonoma Hwy - Google Maps

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Photographs, Uncategorized

Zan Stark photographs at Stanford Library

Thanks to the diligent work of Roy Tennant and Mike Acker, 78 images of Sonoma Valley by Alexander Stark have been digitized and are availalble online at https://searchworks.stanford.edu/?f%5Bcollection%5D%5B%5D=9157694

Some are well known, and some not.

gatesofbuenavista We thank archivist Franz Kunst and the rest of the staff at Special Collections for their kind assitance.

For more about Zan, read Frank Sternad’s wonderful article Stark for the San Francisco Post Card Club newsletter: ZanMonograph

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