It is pretty exciting for all of us who are huge fans of Wilbur Springs, and the wonderful little hotel and community that exists there. It has long been known that Wilbur is special... but when you start asking people why... well that's when it all gets a bit confusing! Wilbur Hot Springs is something so personal, and so deeply carried... that everyone makes their own experience, their own memories, and their own interpretation of what makes this place so transcendent and peaceful. It is one of the things that I truly enjoy.... being able to interact with everyone based off their passion and interpretation of the place. Some simply say that the "energy" here is unlike anywhere else in the world.... it is. Some strictly come for the waters... restorative and healing in every possible way. Others for finding a place that truly removes you from modern life, and reconnects you with your beleaguered human condition. Some just want to be part of the nature, others simply want to photograph moments.
Whatever passions and internal richness that are born here, one thing that constantly surrounds us is history... and it is important (not just fun), to understand where our current springs and hotel came from... beyond just the land... but relating to the recent history, how humans have altered the landscape, and what has happened in the years since.
Many people do not know how much of a "town" Wilbur Springs was, and it was a place of industry and hard labour between moments of serenity as a destination for the weary; there were those who worked hard in the mines, and those who needed the restorative powers of the springs - the reason we are still here! In the coming weeks, I will be posting stand alone pictures and PDF's of old news articles, deeds and documents for the truly curious history buffs. At other points I will be sharing stories, pictures, memories, and a little bit of the people and place that has led up to what Wilbur Springs is today! If any of you wish to share your stories or memories, I would love to hear them. You can do it here, on Facebook, or just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this post, I want to share a couple of the photos that really delve into the history of Wilbur (beyond our expected nature scenes like the early 1900's Wilbur Springs Postcard pictured at the top). I have already started adding them throughout the post... obviously... but you may still be trying to make sense of the scenery - the earlier pictures show an industrious, crowded, and busy town that no longer exists! Many of our guests come to shed the past tension and stress, and contemplate the moment or even near future..... so many do not get the chance to delve into the past history of our area. There is much more to cover, like the true inhabitants of the past... the Native American population that had lived in the hills and plains for century upon century.
Along with the historic photos, I typically include a follow up photo of the modern location, so you can see just how different it is! Above, you will see a shot of the street scene, as if you were heading into the hotel. It is taken westward, and you can see the Adobe style hotel on the right side of the photo. To the right, you will see a small wooden deck that has since gone the way of the wind. It is my assumption this is, in fact, not a yoga deck. =)
Wilbur Springs is a rare moment of reverse development... where 100 houses and buildings used to exist - it has been returned to nature by many forces... people working together to better the landscape, nature rambling through with its own ideas and plans, or just simple accidents that can forever alter the history of this place! Like the one that burned down the original bathhouse... In fact as I sift through these historical documents it looks like it may have burnt twice!
The back side of the above postcard read: "Dear Mrs. Goodfellow: This postal will remind you of dear old wilbur. I hope you are all feeling good since you got home. We are fine but I would have enjoyed it longer if I could have stayed. Well the children seemed to enjoy it very much. How is baby since she got home? Hoping Mr. Goodfellow is well. Does he lease (?) still? With love, Mrs. Menamy"
Wilbur Hot Springs postcard sent September 4, 1909 (Thank you Sacramento Valley Museum!)
If you think that is interesting, look at the next set of pictures. Imagine you are relaxing during a morning yoga retreat with Sarana, and you look back over the top of the springs... and you don't just see the hotel or the solar house..... but you see an endless stream of teeming inhabited buildings!
It is pretty amazing being able to look at time standing still like this... especially because there is almost no reminder of how crowded this area was just one century before today! Here are a couple more old and new comparisons, like this below one that shows hotel up close.. then and now!
Our porch still intact, we added some extra rooms and support in the late 1970's. The hotel, as most of you know, hasn't changed much in 100 years, and it's possible that we could be certified a Historic Monument at some point, especially as we operated as a Post Office for years!
I need to thank Special Collections Department of the Meriam Library, which has an interesting page dedicated to being a "unique regional resource of written and pictorial materials which document the historical as well as the contemporary issues of the 12-county region known as "northeastern California". I also need to lend a big thank you to long time friends and guests "Suzanne & Dan"! They took all the modern location shots for some sense of perspective and historical juxtaposition. It isn't easy to look at the nature preserve and figure out precisely where things used to exist... but they did exactly that. In some photos, they have provided close in-sets to clear up any topographical confusion. That being said, this is more their project than mine.... and I am simply cutting it up and putting it online for more people to enjoy!
I will end there for now.... I originally planned to include the Wilbur Institute for Ecology & Health in this post, which is the non profit name of the 1800 acre nature preserve just past the parking lot! We are sure most of you have biked it, walked it, picnicked, photographed, or possibly just explored (and got to know the original spring that provides life to the springs!)
But that is a lot of information, so I will save those shots for another time.... and hope this sparks your curiosity, sense of awe and wonder in how the history shapes the modern moment, and just how special Wilbur is for more reasons than just epic peace! =)
As always, if you have any questions..... just let me know!
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Thanks for looking everyone,
Wilbur's Online Guy!