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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the days of Liexner’s Resort.
In July of 1911, the Sonoma Index Tribune reported that “A.D. Graham of Graham’s Cash Store received the appointment as post master of Boyes Springs. Located at his store.” The exact date was July 8, 1911. The location of the store, now not know exactly, was near the train depot at Boyes Blvd. and the Sonoma Highway.
That building was lost, along with most of the town in the fire of 1923. After rapid rebuilding, the post office was located in the Woodleaf Store. It stayed there until 1951. The Woodleaf became the Big Three Diner, part of the Sonoma Mission Inn. The post office relocated to the Plaza Center building at Sonoma Hwy. and Boyes Blvd. when it was built in 1951, where it is today. Prior to 1951 this site was know as the Boyes Springs Plaza and was the scene of street parties and fiestas.
In 2011 we celebrated the centennial. To produce the joyous event, we had the help of the USPS and its employees, Sonoma County, the owner of the Plaza Center building, Kickstarter donors, the Springs Community Alliance, and many volunteers.
For lovers of the prickly vegetable, the presence of groves of wild artichokes, as we have in the Valley of the Moon, might seem like an indication of paradise. In addition to being delicious, artichoke flowers are beautiful, fragrant, and attract bees.
However, the wild cynara carduncula is a fearsome invasive plant.
According to the California Invasive Plant Council, the thistle was probably imported from Europe in the early 19th century as a food plant. It becomes invasive when it escapes cultivation and begins to reproduce from seed. Darwin found it growing in the Argentine pampas in 1889 in an area of “hundreds of square miles.”
At its worst, the “edible thistle” forms thickets that are impenetrable by humans or animals and that shade out native plants. As they develop tap roots eight feet deep and produce seed banks that endure for five years, they are very difficult to control.
More info at this link:
Michael Acker’s series of panoramic photo-collages of Highway 12 in the Springs are now available at https://www.valleyofthemoonmainstemproject.org/