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.”

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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.)

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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

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At Calistoga Rd. in Santa Rosa.

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  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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Architecture, Boyes Hot Springs, History, Place Names/Street Names, Trees, Uncategorized

The Boyes Hot Springs Plaza

On December 20, 1956, the Sonoma Index Tribune reported “Old timers in Boyes felt some remorse this Monday when the old stately palm tree in the Boyes Plaza was cut down to make way for a new building.” The new building was the second half of the Plaza Center building, which houses the post office today. The IT went on, “They (the old timers) could remember standing beneath that tree when the old train used to unload vacationers at the railroad station, located years ago, right near the tree.”

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The Boyes Hot Springs Plaza palm tree, 1943. courtesy Bruce Greiwe

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Aurthor’s collection

 

Yes, there was a Plaza in Boyes Springs. It existed as part of the land owned by the Northwestern Pacific Railroad. A railroad map from 1925 shows an elongated lozenge shaped feature, parallel to the tracks, bisected by pathways at right angles, and with a circular form at the center. The palm tree was there, according to an aerial photo from 1943.

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Plaza showing palm tree. The depot had been removed the previous year. Photo courtesy Bob Palmelee.

In 1949 the IT reported that the Boyes Springs Boosters Club voted to “ put a new lawn at the Boyes Hot Springs Plaza and pay for the electricity used in keeping the “Boyes Hot Springs Welcome” sign lighted each evening.

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Courtesy Jerry Biers

In 1941 plans for the celebration of the centennial of the Bear Flag revolt included an event at the BHS Plaza.

In 1949, the community celebrated its own “centennial.” How 1849 was chosed as a founding year is unclear. The hot springs had been commercialized by 1847 by Andrew Heoppner. Thaddeus Leavenworth arrived in 1849, but Boyes didn’t show up until 1882.

At any rate, the editorial page of the Index Tribune approved.

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The Plaza and palm looking north, 1930s.

The idea of a new Boyes Hot Springs Plaza has resurfaced in recent years. Several architects have produced conceptual plans. Below is the Ross, Drulis Cusenberry version.

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Boyes Hot Springs, History, mid-century, Place Names/Street Names, Uncategorized

Sierra Drive/Meincke Road

At the corner of Highway 12 and Sierra Drive stands the building housing Ross Drulis Cusenberry Architects. The building was built in 1966 for Sierra National Bank. It seems that the street, originally known as Meincke Road, was probably renamed for the bank. The street also has the distinction of being on the former Northwest Pacific Railroad right-of-way.

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Assessor’s Parcel Map showing Meincke Road/Seirra Drive

On July 15, 1942, a hearing by the Interstate Commerce Commision in Santa Rosa pitted the War Department and the Southern Pacific Company against the Sonoma Valley Chanber of Commerce, Sonoma State Hospital, and the Sonoma Vista Improvement Club in a debate about whether the rail line between Sonoma and Glen Ellen should be abandoned (passenger service had ended in 1935). The Feds claimed that the line was not needed for the war effort as almost all frieght was brought into the valley by truck, and the SP pointed out that the line had lost money for years. However, Dr. Fred Bultler of the State Home said that his institution had been designated the main hospital for the region should a coastal evacuation be necessary. The Home had been mandated to provide 500 beds on two hours notice and that the rail connection would be required to supply this additional population. The Home had 3200 “inmates”, as he called them, and 450 employees at the time.

Southern Pacific prevailed, however, and by January of 1943, the rails were gone, freeing the stretch between the Mission Inn and West Thomson Ave. to become a road.

The street was probably originally named for George Meincke, a school bus driver, chauffer for the Spreckles family, fire commissioner, and local property owner. However, two other Meinckes were prominent enough in the Springs, midcentury and before, to also be the namesake: Charles Meincke and H. Meincke.

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George Miencke with fellow Fire Commissioners at a fire station open house in 1954.

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Interestingly, the obituaries for George Meincke and Edith Waterman appeared next to each other in the January 30, 1969 edition of the IT. Both had streets named for them, or their family in Ms. Waterman’s case. The Waterman family goes back a little farther than Miencke’s. Her obit notes that “When she and her parents first started coming to this area many years ago, they were guests of Capt. H. E. Boyes…”

The Boyes Hot Springs Company was incorporated in 1902, with August Waterman as one of the directors.

 

Sierra Bank

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A very low key announcement of the proposed name change appeared in the IT in March of 1965.

Sierra Bank first opened in a storefront on Highway 12 in 1964. The address was 18006, now a liquor store (2018). It was front-page news in the Index Tribune. This was the first bank to open in Sonoma Valley outside of the town of Sonoma.

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The new bank building was also a major project for Boyes Hot Springs in 1965 when it was announced.

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Among the luminaries attending the groundbreaking were Bud Castner, and Tom Polidori, prominent Springs businessmen. (Notice the article at bottom left. In 1965 they were fund raising for a new swimming pool.)

 

 

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