J. P Munro-Fraser.

History of Solano County...and histories of its cities, towns...etc. .. online

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A wide flight of steps flanked on either side by well laid out parterres of
flowers leads to the piazza from which entry is made into a dining room of
grand proportions capable of accommodating one hundred and fifty guests,
while adjoining it are spacious and well furnished sitting parlors. The
upper floor is entirely devoted to bed chambers of which there are sixteen
of various sizes and all furnished with a view to the comfort of the occu-
pants. Near the lake there is a neat detached building called Knoll Cottage,
while in close proximity to the sulphur spring there are two others named
respectively Spring and Linda Vista Cottages. These detached residences
each contain one large room with alcove for bed, and three small single
rooms, with lavatory, all furnished and carpetted with every regard to com-
fort. These tenements are also provided with verandahs, those of the two


latter commanding a prospect of the most ravishing order, situated as they
are, half-way up the mountain, a panorama of the country is had, with all its
variations of hill and dale, light and shadow ; while in the distance a glimpse
is caught of the church towers and higher situated houses of Vallejo, backed
in the distance by the expanse of water of the San Pablo bay and the coast
range of mountains. The cottages are all that could be desired for families,
or a party of friends.

The Baths are eight in number, and are connected with the Springs
by means of pipes, and thence distributed into the different rooms, where
the receptacles are tin-lined. In a large room attached, is a monster boiler
from which hot water is conveyed, which may, with a shower in each, be
used at will.

The Stables, too, are a feature on the premises, there being stalls for
twenty-five horses ; sheds for buggies, and the necessary harness-rooms,
with water laid on throughout.

Gas is the means by which the different buildings are illuminated, which
is manufactured in a gasometer, some distance off, and which answers ad-

No description of the White Sulphur Springs can be considered complete
without reference to the high mountain at the foot of which it stands.
Capped, as it is, by large, unwieldy boulders, heaped upon each other in
utter chaos, the ascent to which is gradual and smooth, and will well repay
the adventurer to its summit; for from thence a grand and magnificent view,
which brings, on a clear day, the city of San Francisco within its ken, is to
be obtained. Nowhere within such easy distance of the coast metropolis
does there exist so pleasant a locality for recreation ; and with the many
advantages of comfort and accessibility, which the Springs now possess,
their is no reason why it should not be the most fashionable resort in Cali-


Among the various wonders that nature has so lavishly bestowed upon
California, but few are more deserving of notice than her Mineral Springs.
As though intending that every physical ill should be provided with an
antidote, healing waters are made to rush forth from the bowels of the
earth, and bubble up on the tops and sides of mountain chains. In these,
the counties of Solano and Napa seem to be the most favored.

The Solano, or Tolenas Springs — to the description of which the attention


of our readers will now be confined — are situated about five miles north of
Suisun City, at an elevation of eleven hundred feet above the level of the
sea, and in the midst of the most beautiful climate and romantic scenery.
For more than half the distance the road from Suisun runs across the level
valley, that, in the spring, is carpetted with green turf and variegated with
flowers of every hue. Groves of dark green oaks, with an occasional farm-
house peeping from among the foliage, and here and there live stock quietly
reposing, or eagerly feeding, display a scene of beauty which can be rarely

Ascending the steep but smoothly sloped and gently rounded hills,
dotted with trees, a panorama of vast extent and great beauty is
rolled out before you. To the south-east a broad plain extends as far as the
eye can reach ; to the south Mount Diablo is the crowning point of a long
chain of hills ; to the east, and north-east, the shimmering tops of the snow-
covered Sierra Nevadas shine through the deepening haze, with a richer
glow than the glittering gold that is hidden deep beneath their icy crest.

Arriving at " Empire Spring," and looking down the canon, is the " White
Sulphur Spring." Before going further perhaps it ought to be mentioned
that there are several mineral springs in this chain of hills, the principal of
which seem to be the Empire, White Sulphur, Seltzer, and Congress. The
former is located near the head of a ravine, on the south side of Soda
Spring Canon. This spring furnishes a considerable volume of water, that
issues in a jet, with a gurgling noise at intervals of from one to two seconds.
The numerous bubbles that rise to the surface would indicate the pressure
of a larger amount of carbonic acid gas in this than in any of the other
springs ; but a careful analysis has failed to confirm it.

The White Sulphur Spring, as I have said, is near the foot of the canon,
some 200 feet above the bed of the small stream that runs through the
latter. The flow of water from this spring is small, probably not more
than from three to four gallons daily, but it is highly impregnated with
sulphur, the smell of which is perceptible for some- distance. From this
spring can be seen the famous Suisun marble quary.

The Congress Spring is but a short distance from the Empire, and very
much resembles the latter, except that the escapement of gas is less.

The Seltzer Spring is on the west side of the divide, overlooking the
upper portion of Suisun valley. Its pellucid and sparkling waters are equal
in taste to the best soda water ever drank, eclipsing in flavor at least, the
more celebrated Congress and Empire. Each of the springs, with the
exception of the White Sulphur, issues from the tissues of a light, porous
calcareous rock, of singular formation.

These mineral waters have been known to, and even the resort of native
Californians, for many years; but they have received but little attention
until recently, when the following careful analysis of two of the springs by


Dr. Hewston of San Francisco, discovered the valuable medicinal properties
they contain.

Component Parts. Congress. Empire.

Specific gravity 1.0056 1.0132

Iodide of Potassium 0.24 1.64

Chloride of Potassium 0.71 1.66"

Chloride of Sodium 26.90 90.83

Carbonate of Soda 6.67 14.38

Biborate of Soda 2.57 6.44

Carbonate of Lime 6.04 4.46

Carbonate of Magnesia 1.36 4.57

Carbonate of Iron 0.08 0.09

Alumina 0.12 trace.

Selica 0.20 0.40

Dry solid matter in 1 pint 45.00 124.47

Free Carb. Acid gas, cub. in 33.735 26.297

Their value will be better appreciated by the persual of the following
note from Drs. I. Powell and B. A. Sheldon, and with which we shall close
this description.

" We have carefully examined the results of Doctor Hewston's analysis
of the waters of the Congress and Empire Springs, and believe them
possessed of remedial virtues superior to any other of the vaunted waters
of California, and equal to any in the world. Their tonic, alterative,
antacid and aperient qualities render them invaluable, when judiciously
administered, in the treatment of various chronic affections."

The consumption of these waters is becoming general throughout the
State, superseding in a great measure that from Napa county.

Mention has elsewhere been made of the


Near Suisun, the property of Judge Swan. We append verbatim the report
to that gentleman of a Geological Survey of the locality, made by Mr.
Charles Pueger in 1876.

" From the examination of your property above specified, as made in
your company, I have come to the following conclusions ; of course such a
local examination of the grounds specified, does not enable me to give a
correct picture of the geology of the entire vicinity, or an idea of the
mineralogical value of lands adjoining near and far. My problem has been,


as I conceived, merely to determine what of useful mineral is to be found
on your property, above specified. That is to say, what I have not examined
I cannot judge of.

The rock formation on the above lands consist of alternating strata or
layers of sandstone, limestone and argillaceous shale with an abundant
variety of transition rocks ; particularly of marls.

The strata have the strike, or course, of the Coast Range, the eruption of
which was evidently . the cause of their upheaval in ages past. Their dip
is therefore naturally to the north-east, the strike being N.W. — S.E. This
agrees with the general position of the stratified rocks of the slate, and
therefore serve as to guide the identification of strata in their continuation
at a distance.

There are many peculiarities in these strata that point to the coal forma-
tion as the one to which they are probably to be ranked, even if they did
not stand in line with the Mount Diablo coal deposits. Nothing of a fossil
nature was found, however, to support or confirm such an opinion. Of
course even the presence of strata, incident to the coal formation, would not
necessitate the presence of coal strata, but merely makes it possible. The
experience and geology of many regions shows this, and more. In Switzer-
land, for instance, the coal formation is largely represented, and coal found
in many places, but a number of companies have failed in the vain effort
to find a paying deposit. They have been found invariably to be of limited
extent, though often of good quality.

In order to make my remarks better understood, I subjoin an outline ot
the topography of the locality from the county map, and have sketched in
the approximate position of the various strata, as observed* The figures
give the source of the specimens of corresponding number, as accompanying
this report. The dotted lines show the courses taken in three days' exami-
nation of the ground.

The course over the Marble Quarry Hill, gave the following observations
of importance :

The hill consists mainly of sandstone strata forming the north-east side
and a limestone strata on the south-west side, inter-stratified with sand-
stone. The hill in which the old quarry and the lime-kilns are situated,
seems to be, partially, at least, a pile of debris, agglomerated by a calcareous
deposit of speml.

The variegated marble in the quarry, occurs in disconnected masses in the
debris, which, although facilitating, on account of its looseness, the quarry-
ing work, predominates to an extent, and is in itself so worthless as to
outweigh the advantage mentioned.

These detached blocks of variegated marble would probably lead ulti-

*The sketch referred to above, is, unfortunately, not procurable.


mately to a continuous main deposit. This, I think, would be found some-
what higher on the slope, or farther east, and prove to be a contiuuation of
the marble vein, which is found abruptly cut off or dislocated, near the
boulders and cliffs forming the brow of the hill adjoining on the north.

Following our course, we find on the west slope of the hill, the dense, red-
rish-yellow limestone No. 2. This will burn pretty white, and make a good
mortar lime.

On the point of the north-west slope of the hill, we find the dense, cream-
colored limestone No. 3, distinguishable from a distance by its marked light
color. This is certainly the best limestone found by me on the whole
ground. It burns very white, slacks very readily, and makes a rich lime.

The value of the limestones, Nos. 2 and 3, is enhanced by the fact that,
in them is situated the well defined ledge or vein of variegated marble
No. 4. This, together with the situation on the slope of the hill, would
make it possible to combine the quarrying of the two, and, therefore, render
the operation, more profitable than if they were apart.

The vein of variegated marble above spoken of, runs in a line from there
to the top of the hill in a south-easterly direction, dipping No. 3, and is two-
fourths feet thick. It is distinctly defined for a distance of several hundred
feet, and, I have no doubt, reaches to a considerable depth. The marble,
when polished, is of great beauty, and would be made of considerable
value in countries where labor is cheap. It is only fit, however, for inside
ornamental purposes, such as mantles for fire-places, etc.; is a fissured struct-
ure, favoring destruction by atmospheric action. At the marble works of
Mr. Heverin, on Jackson street, between Montgomery and Lawrence, in this
city (San Francisco), specimens of finished work from this marble can be
seen in form of a fire front, and a block for the Vienna Exposition, both of
which show the peculiarities and great beauty of this marble to the best

At the top of the hill this marble vein strikes the sandstone strata, which
then forms the wall-rock of another smaller vein of the same marble, strik-
ing in from the north-east. This vein cuts off or dislocates, the main vein ;
at any rate, they are both lost in the boulders and precipitous cliffs forming
the south side of the brow of the hill. It is probable, however, their con-
tinuation will be found on the south-west slope, and that the quarry marble
is from this continuation. The dislocation is also apparent in the sandstone
and limestone strata.

Crossing the sandstone in an easterly direction, we find on the east slope
of Quarry Hill a number of soda springs. One of these — the highest up
on the hill — shows an oily scum floating on top of the water. This is the
only acknowledged indication of the presence of coal that I have found on
the premises. That this indication is too indefinite to be of any value,
needs, I think, no explanation to any one at all acquainted with the origin,


fibrous powder, assuming, at the same time, a permanent brownish-gray
color. This powder, when treated with water, shows no sign of slacking.
These reactions would indicate the mineral to be dolomite ; but this is belied
by its form, its inferior hardness, and the readiness with which . it emits its
carbonic acid and dissolves in coal muriatic acid. It may be classed, there-
fore, a dolomitic, calcite or magnesian limestone.

It has been satisfactorily proven that certain magnesian limestones make
excellent hydraulic mortar and cement, particularly adapted for salt water
work. I, therefore, at once tested the mineral for its qualities in this direc-
tion, but with unsatisfactory results. It is lacking in the proper proportion
of magnesia. With the discovery of a magnesia deposit of suitable nature,
the rock could be made valuable — not otherwise, to my knowledge.

It is needless for me to express my opinion in regard to the mineral or
soda springs in this section of your premises ; anyone who has seen them
and tasted the water must bear witness to their good qualities.

As regards its practical value, I can form but an imperfect opinion. It
seems to me its best day is past, and that now it is merely a question of
successful competition and, perhaps, attraction of locality. The experience
of European springs of note, has shown that after their situation, other
chance circumstances determine their fate, ahead of their intrinsic qualities.
I cite Carlsbad, Ems, Wiesbaden, Baden-Baden. In dreams of the future
and its possibilities, I cannot indulge.

Following our course of examination in a southerly direction, the extent
of the deposit of dolomitic limestone was evident, from the pieces of it
strewn over the hills, within the boundaries of the limestone strata, for a
distance of over a quarter of a mile. Crossing, then, the limestone going
east, there is found on the southern slope 'of the hills, a top-ground of
decomposed limestone containing, however, considerable clay. This, on
account of its softness, would probably make excellent material for agricul-
tural purposes, to mix with soils requiring lime — tule lands, for instance.
No. 11.

My attention was then drawn by Judge Swan to lumps of the radical
fibrous mineral, No. 12, which, at first sight, I thought might be fibrous
gypsum. This, however, was at once disproved by its hardness ; gypsum
yielding to the nail, this barely to the knife. It is arognite — a peculiar
quality of carbonate of lime — and of no value except for a mineral collec-

The further examination elicited nothing more of interest.

The third day's course of examination began at about D, and was made
with a particular view to the discovery of coal indications.

Following up the creek bed, from the point where it is claimed specimens
of coal were found in 1862, I crossed the limestone, sandstone, and clay
shale strata, common to the locality, without discovering in the drift any-



thing new except specimens of hornblendic rock — a peculiar conglomerate —
and some new varieties of argillaceous limestone or marl, similar to those
found on marble-quarry hill; Nos. 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, are specimens from
both places, having, more or less, the characteristics of what is termed
cement rock than any other found. My examination of it has shown it to
be such, of serviceable quality. All of the other rocks, of the same class
enumerated, could be made serviceable for the manufacture of cement,
though it would probably need judicious mixture of different varieties to
attain good results. Nothing but experiments on a large scale could settle
these points satisfactorily, since it is a well-known fact to cement manu-
facturers of experience, that a material may contain all the necessary
constituents of cement in proper quantity, and yet not make good cement.

My course was thence taken to the east, as far as the road, to visit another
point, where coal is claimed to have been found in digging a well ; thence
up the ravine to the north, going west, crossing the sandstone and shale
strata both ways. The course, from the top of the hill, was taken south-
ward, down the deep ravine, forming the main branch of the creek in which
the coal was found. At the head of this ravine are found thick beds of a
sandy shale, in their distorted laminae, No. 20, indicating an irruptive action
in the vicinity. Further down was found the bed of peculiar conglomerate
before mentioned, No. 21. I speak of this because such conglomerates, of
the most varied kind, are oftenest met in the coal formations, and are
valuable as giving a clue to the nature of the rocks of the less immediate
vicinity. The shells in this specimen are not perfect enough to be deter-
minejd, otherwise they would be a clue.

Farther down, I found boulders of synite, and the solid rock itself,
protruding on the east side of the ravine. This explains the distortion of
the strata in the vicinity — Nos. 22 and 23.

Part of this synite is exceedingly rich in hornblende ; more so than the
small piece attached. May not such massive hornblende have been mista-
ken for coal, since the latter seems to have been found (12) only in the
vicinity of this hornblendic rock ? I, at least, can find no indication of its
presence than the vagueness mentioned.

Cinnabar, or other quicksilver ore, will not be found, I think, on your

The examination developed nothing more of interest.

Resume. — The materials on your premises, which may be considered in
the question of value, are : The limestones, Nos. 2 and 3 ; the variegated
marble, No. 4 ; the soda springs, and some of the varieties of cement rock

In considering the cost of burning limestone, it may be mentioned that
Santa Cruz lime, of superior quality, is sold here (San Francisco) at the rate
of $2 per barrel of 250 pounds, gross — say 230 pounds, net.


In regard to the cost of production, I have tried to obtain notes on the
experience in this State, but, as might be expected, did not succeed. T can
only give the following :

In the best kilns at present used in Germany, the results are :.

For 3 J tons lime, 1| cords wood, (kind not given) or 1 ton of good coal.

Production about 10 tons per day in kilns of the largest build. As much
as 3f tons of lime is burned in some places with the above proportion of

Kilns of the foregoing kind, as were generally used, burn only 6-7 tons
lime per twenty-four hours.

A somewhat different kind — simpler — kiln used near the Rhine, is only
about half as large, and turns out per day one and a half and one and three
quarters tons of lime, with a consumption of say one cord of good, dry pine

The patent furnaces of Hoffman & Licht, such as are used by the Patent
Brick Company of San Francisco, to burn brick, will .turn out 6-8 tons lime
per day, consuming only 2,900 to 3,900 pounds good coal.

These furnaces are all expensive to build, especially the first and last
mentioned .

A cheap form of kiln is also much used, in which the fuel is mixed with
the limestone, as in burning cement at Benicia. It will turn out 5-5 \ tons
lime, with a consumption of two tons of coal.

Taking the last form of kiln as a basis, an approximate calculation of the
total cost of delivering lime to market, I calculated it to be 50 to 60 dollars
for five tons, or, say 40 barrels. This makes $1.25 to $1.50 per barrel.
Santa Cruz lime, as above, selling at $2.00, it would not be safe to count on
more than $1.75.

From this I judge that with the use of coal as fuel, and a good kiln, lime
burning could be carried on with good profit on your premises at the point
specified. I do not think it would be more than a profitable business.

In respect to the value of marble, I can give the following :

Italian marble, per cubic foot $3 00 to $12 00

Vermont " " " 5 00" 5 50

Variegated foreign marble, per cubic foot .... 3 00 " 5 00

Suisun marble, per cubic foot 1 00 " 1 50

I have been to a number of marble yards in this city, but could get no
offer or estimate out of anyone for the Suisun marble, though they all
admitted that it was a fine stone, etc. Mr. Heverin seems to be the only
one that takes any interest in the matter, and he will therefore be best able
to determine what can be done with the marble. The marble, it seems, is
more difficult to work than the imported, and the preference of the product
to others is a matter of taste, and therefore a high price asked. These con-


siderations limit the market for it, and make its intrinsic value more ques-
tionable than in the case of a large deposit of a less rare material. As I
said before, Mr. Heverin is at present best able to give positive information
on this.

Although the material is abundant for the manufacture of Portland
cement, it "Would be difficult at present to compete with the factory at Benicia,
I think, since they have also found an abundance of rock near their factory."

We will now draw this already lengthy chapter to a close ; it has been
impossible to follow every outline of the settlement of Solano county up to
its present state of prominent prosperity, while it has been a hard task to
verify the dates of the earlier arrivals. All would appear to have gone
through the earlier toils of pioneer life without any special regard to the
flight of time, save wherein it was to bring them to their desired goal ;
hence it has been no easy task to arrive at the information we now lay
before the reader. In bidding adieu to the subject of settlement, therefore,
the sad story of the Donner party may not be uninteresting, especially as
some of the survivors are well known to residents of Solano.

Tuthill's History of California tells us : " Of the overland emigration to
California, in 1846, about eighty wagons took a new route, from fort
Bridger, around the south end of Great Salt Lake. The pioneers of the
party arrived in good season over the mountains ; but Mr. Reed's and
Mr. Donner's companies opened a new route through the desert, lost a
month's time by their explorations, and reached the foot of the Truckee
pass, in the Sierra Nevada, on the 31st of October, instead of the 1st, as
they had intended. The snow began to fall on the mountains two or three
weeks earlier than usual that year, and was already piled up in the Pass
that they could not proceed. They attempted it repeatedly, but were as

Online LibraryJ. P Munro-FraserHistory of Solano County...and histories of its cities, towns...etc. .. → online text (page 10 of 57)