Soda Springs Chronology

Many of these items come from newspapers of the day, some of which were weeklies. Consequently, it is sometimes difficult to arrive at exact dates for some occurrences. For those interested, microfilm copies of many of these papers are available at the Napa County Library, and the dates and papers indicated will guide you to specific articles. Finally, in perusing this material, one notices that for extended periods all articles pertaining to the springs will derive from one paper. It is possible that coverage was contingent on how much advertising the proprietors bought from a given publication.

Prehistory Area indians visit the springs regularly to take the waters.

1837 George Yount moves to the Napa Valley, and whites begin to discover its charms, including the springs.

July 15, 1856 The first resort hotel had opened at the springs, owned by San Francisco lawyer Eugene Sullivan and run by W. Allen. In a letter dated this day, Allen complains to Sullivan that they need dressers because women have too much trouble getting things out of their traveling trunks and back in again. He also wants cooking butter.

July 21, 1856 Allen writes to tell Sullivan that this is the first day he's officially opened the bar and dining room; they take in $93. The only complaints, he says, concern the inferior cigars. Allen requests a better brand.

August 1856 The hotel burns down.

October 25, 1856 Eugene Sullivan and Amos Buckman initiate legal proceedings to reinforce their claims to the property.

1860 The earliest known ad promoting the water appears in the Napa Reporter.

February 16, 1861 The litigation concerning the springs has begun, which soon becomes legendary throughout the valley. The Napa Reporter lists these actions in a legal column:

Buckman vs Wood & Bewley; motion for change of venue denied. Referred to Thos. Swan.

Allen vs Buckman; motion for new trial denied. Stay of proceedings granted for 20 days.

Buckman vs Whitney & Wood; new trial granted.

April 13, 1861 The Napa Reporter carries a story to the effect that while Buckman is in Benicia discussing his case with regional legal authorities, J.H. Wood and companions attack Mrs. Buckman and workers at the springs, beat them, and destroy the bottlng works. Coincidentally, a civil war seems to be breaking out somewhere in the east.

April 20, 1861 The Napa Reporter says Wood and his associates are each sentenced to a $75 fine or 35 days in jail; they appeal. Fort Sumter has been attacked by secessionists in South Carolina.

April 27, 1861 The Napa Reporter says R. Crouch has been appointed receiver in charge of the springs until legal issues can be settled.

November 8, 1862 The Pacific Echo reports that Whitney, Wood and their employees are arrested for illegally throwing Buckman out of his house. While everyone is in town, masked men set afire the bottling works operated by Whitney and Wood.

November 15, 1862 Whitney and Wood run an ad offering a $1000 reward for information concerning the arsonists.

November 21, 1863 The Napa County Reporter explains the series of legal proceedings in several courts that result in Whitney and Wood prevailing over Amos Buckman.

1869 Pictures with that date on it show a house-like building on the property, suggesting that it was open to day-trippers and picnickers.

April 6, 1972 An account in the Napa County Reporter says that Dr. J. Henry Wood has sold the Soda Springs property to Colonel J.P. Jackson for $120,000. It predicts that a wonderful resort could be developed at the location.

July 3, 1875 The Napa County Reporter runs a story about progress at the springs and the technology involed in bottling gaseous water. A new bottling building has been constructed, and the springs are putting out more than 300 dozen bottles a day. A hotel is planned.

April 21, 1877 A Saturday night ball introduces the just completed Rotunda to the Napa Valley. Pugh's Quartette Quadrille Band performs, and a "first class" supper is served to the 75 couples who attend.

April 1881 The Soda Springs Resort opens to overnight guests; the formal opening ball takes place on May 12.

July 18, 1884 The Napa County Reporter highlights the many changes and improvements at the springs, including the Tower House, Ivy House, Music Hall, Garden House, Club House and Pagoda; all rooms have gas lighting and running water. Gardens and exotic plants cover the grounds. It can accommodate almost 300 people. So great is its beauty, says the article, that even William Keith and Virgil Williams, California's most famous landscape artists, had been compelled to visit and paint.

March 21, 1885 The Napa Register reports that the Sunset Telephone and Telegraph Company will soon be intalling lines before the summer season, allowing guests to call San Francisco and Oakland.

January 15, 1886 The Napa Register reports that the springs will now be open year-round. It goes on to say that it's a great stimulant to the local economy, and what's good for Napa Soda Springs is good for Napa. It notes that the previous June, the resort spent $1000 on meat alone.

June 21, 1889 The Napa Register reports Colonel Jackson's new residence--Bellvue--is almost done abuilding, as is the new swimming pool, 150 by 50 feet, situated just below the lawn tennis courts.

May 21, 1892 The Napa Daily Register reports that on the previous Friday the springs shipped 1500 dozen bottles, the most ever in one day. Seven wagons are required to haul the water down to the depot.

November 20, 1892 The Napa Daily Register reports that the new dancing pavillion has been improved for winter by glassing in its previously open sides, with 1500 panes.

March 8, 1894 This week, ex-President Benjamin Harrison, a former law partner of Colonel Jackson, comes to visit the springs.

February 19, 1895 The Napa Register reports the wonders occurring at the springs. It suggests that the tallest century plant ever known in California is blooming at Soda Springs, almost reaching 40 feet in height, and the bottling plant is shipping two million bottles annually. Most incredibly, a lawyer is staying there, and he will soon be receiving a $100,000 fee!

July 18, 1897 The Napa Daily Journal reports that San Francisco saloons recently ran out of Napa Soda; the emergency is met by an all-night shift at the bottling plant, and a delay of the steamer Napa City so the needed bottles can be stowed aboard.

March 27, 1898 Amos Buckman dies in San Diego County at the age of 79.

March 27, 1900 The Napa Daily Journal reports that a court has decided that only soda water from Napa Soda Springs can be called "Napa Soda," precluding various defendents also from identifying their products as "Walters Napa County Soda" or "Phillips Napa County Soda." According to the judge's reasoning, the Napa Indians were indulging at the Soda Springs long before there was an officially recognized geographical place known as "Napa." Since there was a "Napa Soda" before there was a Napa, the defendents couldn't use the name "Napa" in any form, despite their contention that it was merely descriptive of the place from where it came.

September 26, 1900 Colonel Jackson becomes suddenly ill and dies. His wife inherits the property.

The 20th Century Vacation habits change, and the Soda Springs Resort begins a slow decline. The First World War and Prohibition lead to the closing of its doors to guests. Napa Soda--or "Jackson's Napa Soda"--continues to be sold through the Second World War, despite a devastating wilderness fire in the '40s which spares the bottling plant. What's left is consumed in another conflagration in the early 1960s.

The 21st Century Haunting ruins peak from behind thick groves of eucalyptus; the water still bubbles up from the Lemon and Pagoda springs, the stone pllars still guarding their entrances. Most of the masonry walls still stand, but the proliferating trees are bound to destroy them eventually. Plans to develop the property have never progressed.

~ ~ ~