NORCAL-L ArchivesArchiver > NORCAL > 1999-08 > 0934174745
Subject: Tuscan Springs - The History
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 1999 00:59:05 EDT
I just got a wonderfully informative response from someone on the Tehama
County list about Tuscan Springs. I found the e-mail very interesting so
thought I would forward it along. I would like to see those "broken tanks,
pillars and a palm tree."
>From "LEAVES OF THE PAST" by Ruth Hitchcock
"TUSCAN SPRINGS (Lick Springs)
A popular health resort and hotel located nine miles east of Red Bluff at
the head of Little Salt Creek. The area was surrounded by rugged cliffs,
forming a natural protection from the winds and elements and gave a feeling
of security, warmth and tranquility. This 240 acre spring area had probably
been used for many years by the native Indians.
The area was discovered in 1854 by Dr. John A. Veatch, who after
analyzing the waters, found them to contain excellent medicinal qualities.
Here he also discovered borax in 1856, the first to be found in California.
The springs were first called "Lick Springs", but were changed by Dr.
Veatch to "Tuscan", named after the borax fumaroles of Tuscany, Italy.
Veatch sold an interest in the property in 1856 to J. M. Meador, a
brothr of Meridith, and May 31, 1856 Meador sold the property to major J. C.
Bradley, a Mexican War vet, operated the hotel of 68 rooms, the corrals,
bath houses and 29 cottages which were heated and lighted by natural gas
piped from a nearby spring.
The resort was reached by stage which ran every other day from Red
Bluff, and with the coming of the railroad in 1872, the stage met the trains
each day. Telegraphic and later telephonic service was established as well
as a post office.
Bradley conducted the hotel and health resort until his death in 1875
when the business was continued by his widow and son and then sold to W. E.
Perry of Sacramento.
This resort had many other lessees which included Dr. John A. Allen and
Dr. Olendorf in 1862. Lintz and Edwards in 1870 and J. H. Disher in 1879.
On July 22, 1887 the springs were purchased by Edward B. Walbridge, a
successful businessman from Red Bluff and under his management gained wide
Walbridge enlarged the hotel to three stories, which housed 125 quests,
with some 108 rooms, each with running hot and cold water. There were also
two dining rooms and kitchens, a billiard room, bar and club rooms all
erected at a cost of $72,000. Improvements were also made on the bathhouses
and a swiming pool, heated by natural gas found nearby.
In 1898 Walbridge also began his bottling works for "Tuscan Springs
Mineral Water" which he selected from some fifty springs on the property.
He also introduced a cleaning compound, noninjurious to the hands, to be
used in cleaning tubs, basins, painted surfaces, etc.. With the coming of
the auto, an auto-car, which carried eight persons for a fare of $1.00, ran
each day from Red Bluff. Fire consumed the structure on August 12, 1899,
starting from a leaking gas pipe. This fire cost the life of Belle
McKenzie, a sister of Isaac McKenzie, who was a guest there.
After turning down an offer of $100,000 from Southern Pacific Co.,
Walbridge again rebuilt.
This new hotel was ever larger, having four stories and 150 guest rooms,
and was erected at a cost between $50,000 - $60,000 and covered some 40,000
sq. feet. Additional bath houses were added in 1906, but the new structure
was short lived as fire struck again in Sept. 1912 and despite $27,000 of
insurance, it was never rebuilt.
Two caretakers lived there for several years and the property remained
in the hands of the widow and the court.
In 1928 oil was discovered near the springs, but the venture was short
lived. During World War II, soap and other articles were made from the
minerals extracted from the springs.
Mr. Van Neher of San Francisco purchased the property in 1930 with the
hopes of rebuilding, but because of ill health, his dreams were not
All that remains today are broken tanks, pillars and a palm tree."
The person added, "Tuscan buttes can be easily spotted just east of Red