Calistoga, CA Real Estate
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Living in Calistoga
Calistoga is a city in Napa County, in California’s Wine Country. During the 2010 census, the population was 5,155. The city was incorporated on January 6, 1886. In 1868 the California Pacific Railroad was built to Calistoga, becoming a hub and destination. The name comes from the alteration of Saratoga Springs, New York, as there is a hot spring in Calistoga.
The Upper Napa Valley was once the home of a significant population of Indigenous People, called the Wappo during the Spanish colonial era of the late 18th century. With abundant oak trees providing acorns as a food staple and the natural hot springs as a healing ground Calistoga (Wappo: Nilektsonoma, “Chicken Hawk Place”) was the site of several villages. Following Mexican Independence, mission properties were secularized and disposed of by the Mexican government with much of the Napa Valley being partitioned into large ranchos in the 1830s and 1840s. The first Anglo settlers began arriving in the 1840s, with several taking up lands in the Calistoga area.
Samuel Brannan was the leader of a Mormon settlement expedition on the ship Brooklyn landing in Yerba Buena (San Francisco) in 1846. He published San Francisco’s first English language newspaper, the California Star. Following the discovery of gold in Coloma, Brannan pursued many business ventures, which made him California’s first millionaire and became a leader in San Francisco’s Committee of Vigilance. Fascinated by Calistoga’s natural hot springs, Brannan purchased more than 2,000 acres (8 km2) with the intent to develop a spa reminiscent of Saratoga Springs in New York. “The name of Calistoga was given to the place in the fall of 1867, by Mr. Brannan. It was his boast that he was going to make the place the Saratoga of California, so he spliced the names and called it Cal (is) toga, the middle syllable for euphony. The place had already been previously called Hot Springs by the few Americans, and Agua Caliente by the Spaniards and Indians.”history of napa and lake counties
A writer later claimed that Brannan intended to say “I’ll make this place the Saratoga of California,” but it came out “the Calistoga of Sarifornia”. His Hot Springs Resort surrounding Mt Lincoln with the Spa/Hotel located at what is now Indian Springs Resort and Brannan Cottage Inn, opened to California’s rich and famous in 1862. In 1868 Brannan’s Napa Valley Railroad Company’s track was completed to Calistoga. This provided an easier travel option for ferry passengers making the journey from San Francisco. With the addition of railroad service, Calistoga became not only a destination, but also the transportation hub for the upper valley and a gateway to Lake and Sonoma Counties. A 6-meter diorama of this early Calistoga can be seen in the Sharpsteen Museum.
Calistoga’s economy was based on mining (silver and mercury) agriculture (grapes, prunes and walnuts) and tourism (the hot springs). One of the early visitors was Robert Louis Stevenson. Yet to write his great novels, he had just married Fanny Vandegrift in San Francisco in May 1880, and the couple honeymooned at the Calistoga Hot Springs Hotel days later. Desiring to stay in the area, they moved from the hotel to an abandoned cabin at the nearby Silverado Mine on Mount Saint Helena. While working on other stories Stevenson kept a journal which became the Silverado Squatters describing many local features, residents and characters.
Calistoga made national headlines in 1881 when Anson Tichenor claimed that he had invented a way to extract gold from the waters of the hot springs. Tichenor’s invention was soon proved to be a fraud.
In 1920, Giuseppe Musante, a soda fountain and candy store owner in Calistoga, was drilling for a cold water well at the Railway Exchange when he tapped into a hot water source. In 1924 he set up a bottling line and began selling Calistoga Sparkling Mineral Water. The company became a major player in the bottled water business after Elwood Sprenger bought the small bottling plant in 1970 known today as Calistoga Water Company.
Calistoga was named a Distinctive Destination by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2001.
Scenes from the Disney movie Bedtime Stories starring Adam Sandler were filmed in Calistoga in June 2008. .
In 1964 the Hanley wildfire raced down the western slope of Mt. St. Helena and burned all the way to the outskirts of Santa Rosa, 30 miles to the west.
In 2017, the Tubbs Fire, which killed at least 19 people, started off of Highway 128 and Bennett Lane in Calistoga. The fire led to the evacuation of almost the entire population of Calistoga. The 2017 Tubbs Fire took exactly the same path as the 1964 Hanley Fire.
In 2020, the Glass Fire forced an evacuation of the city for the second time in four years.
Geography & Climate
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.6 square miles (6.7 km2), 99.30% of it land and 0.70% of it water.
According to National Weather Service records, Calistoga has cool, wet winters with temperatures dropping to freezing on an average of 34.1 days. Summers are usually very dry, with daytime temperatures regularly reaching 90 °F (32 °C) or higher on an average of 72.8 days, but nights are cool, dropping into the lower fifties. Average January temperatures range from 59.8 °F (15.4 °C) to 36.8 °F (2.7 °C). Average July temperatures range from 92.3 °F (33.5 °C) to 53.1 °F (11.7 °C). The record high temperature of 111 °F (44 °C) occurred on July 23, 2006. The record low temperature of 12 °F (−11 °C) was recorded on December 22, 1990. Calistoga has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Csa) according to the Köppen climate classification system.
Average annual rainfall is 37.56 inches (954 mm) with measurable precipitation falling on an average of 63 days each year. The wettest year was 1983 with 75.38 inches (1,915 mm) and the driest year was 1976 with 12.43 inches (316 mm). The most rainfall in one month was 32.06 inches (814 mm) in February 1986. The most rainfall in 24 hours was 8.10 inches (206 mm) on February 17, 1986. Snow often falls in the nearby mountains during the winter months, but is rare in Calistoga. On January 3, 1974, 3.0 inches of snow fell in the city.
Calistoga is at the north end of the Napa Valley Calistoga AVA, part of California’s Wine Country. There are numerous wineries within a short drive. The city allows visitors to see wine country as it was before freeways and fast food—only two-lane roads lead there, inducing those segments of Highway 29 and Highway 128 that pass through Calistoga, and fast food franchises are banned by law.
Calistoga itself is noted for its hot springs spas such as Calistoga Spa Hot Springs. A local specialty is immersion in hot volcanic ash, known as a mud bath. Nearby attractions include an artificial geothermal geyser known as the “Old Faithful of California” or “Little Old Faithful”. The geyser erupts from the casing of a well drilled in the late 19th century. According to Dr. John Rinehart in his book A Guide to Geyser Gazing (1976 p. 49), a man had drilled into the geyser in search for water. He had actually “simply opened up a dead geyser”.
Major employers in Calistoga include Solage resort, Calistoga Joint Unified School District, Indian Springs Calistoga resort, and the Calistoga Spa Hot Springs. Neighboring vineyards include Sterling Vineyards.
California Historical Landmark
The Napa Valley Railroad Depot also called the Calistoga Depot in Calistoga is a California Historical Landmark number 687.
California Historical Landmark number 687 reads:
- NO. 687 NAPA VALLEY RAILROAD DEPOT, CALISTOGA – The Napa Valley Railroad depot, now the Southern Pacific depot, was built in 1868. Its roundhouse across Lincoln Avenue is gone. On its first trip, this railroad brought people to Calistoga for the elaborate opening of Brannan’s summer resort in October 1868.
California Historical Landmark number 682, York Cabin Site, in Calistoga reads:
- NO. 682 SITE OF YORK’S CABIN, CALISTOGA – Among the first houses in this area was John York’s log cabin, constructed in October 1845. Rebuilt as part of the home of the Kortum family, it was used as a residence until razed in 1930. Nearby was the cabin of David Hudson, also built in October 1845. Calistoga was named by Samuel Brannan.
California Historical Landmark number 684, Brannan Store in Calistoga reads:
- NO. 684 SAM BRANNAN STORE, CALISTOGA – Sam Brannan arrived in Napa Valley in the late 1850s and purchased a square mile of land at the foot of Mount St. Helena. This is the store he built, in which he made $50,000 in one year.
California Historical Landmark number 686, Kelsey House Site in Calistoga reads:
- “NO. 686 SITE OF KELSEY HOUSE, CALISTOGA – Nancy Kelsey arrived in California in 1841 with the Bidwell-Bartleson party and settled with her family south of present-day Calistoga. Now the hearthstoneis all that can be seen of the house. The property is owned by the Rockstrohs.’
California Historical Landmark number 683, Hudson Cabin Site in Calistoga reads:
- NO. 683 SITE OF HUDSON CABIN, CALISTOGA – David Hudson was one of the early pioneers who helped develop the upper portion of Napa Valley by purchasing land, clearing it, and planting crops and building homes. Hudson built his cabin in October 1845.
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