CHAPTER XXIII. GLEN ALPINE SPRINGS
The earliest of all the resorts of the Tahoe region away from the shores of Tahoe itself, Glen Alpine Springs still retains its natural supremacy. Located seven miles away from Tallac, reached by excellent roads in automobile stages, sequestered and sheltered, yet absolutely in the very heart of the most interesting part of the Tahoe region, scenically and geologically, it continues to attract an increasing number of the better class of guests that annually visit these divinely-favored California Sierras. John Muir wrote truthfully when he said:
The Glen Alpine Springs tourist resort seems to me one of the most delightful places in all the famous Tahoe region. From no other valley, as far as I know, may excursions be made in a single day to so many peaks, wild gardens, glacier lakes, glacier meadows, and Alpine groves, cascades, etc.
The drive from Tallac around Fallen Leaf Lake under trees whose boles form arch or portal, framing pictures of the sunny lake, is a memorable experience; then on past Glen Alpine Falls, Lily Lake, and Modjeska Falls, up the deep mountain glen, where the road ends at the hospitable cottages, log-houses and spacious tents of Glen Alpine.
Here is the world-famous spring, discovered in the 'fifties by Nathan Gilmore (for whom Gilmore Lake is named). Mr. Gilmore was born in Ohio, but, when a mere youth, instead of attending college and graduating in law as his parents had arranged for and expected, he yielded to the lure of the California gold excitement, came West, and in 1850 found himself in Placerville. In due time he married, and to the sickness of his daughter Evelyn, now Mrs. John L. Ramsay, of Freewater, Ore., is owing his discovery of Glen Alpine. The doctor ordered him to bring the child up into the mountains. Accompanied by an old friend, Barton Richardson, of the James Barton Key family of Philadelphia, he came up to Tallac, with the ailing child and its mother. Being of active temperament he and Mr. Richardson scaled Mt. Tallac, and in returning were much entranced by Fallen Leaf Lake. Later Mr. Gilmore came to Fallen Leaf alone, wandering over its moraines and lingering by its shores to drink in its impressive and growingly-overpowering beauty. In those days there was no road at the southern end of Fallen Leaf and the interested explorer was perforce led to follow the trails of bear, deer and other wild animals. Rambling through the woods, some two miles above the lake he came to a willow-surrounded swampy place, where the logs and fallen trees were clearly worn by the footprints of many generations of wild animals. Prompted by curiosity he followed the hidden trail, saw where a small stream of mineral-stained water was flowing, observed where the deer, etc., had licked the stones, and finally came to the source in what he afterwards called Glen Alpine Springs. Scientific observation afterwards showed that the water had an almost uniform temperature, even in the hottest days of summer, of 39.6 degrees Fahr., and that there was free carbonic acid gas to the extent of 138.36 cubic inches. The analysis revealed that each U.S. gallon contained grains as follows:
Sodium Chloride ............ 21.17 Sodium Carbonate ........... 32.75 Potassium Carbonate ........ Trace Ferrous Carbonate........... 1.8 Alumnia .................... 1.43 Borates .................... Trace Magnesium Carbonate ......... 9.96 Calcium Carbonate ........... 45.09 Calcium Sulphate ............ 4.10 Silica ...................... 2.50 Organic Matter............... Trace - - - Total Solids................ 118.80
The water is pleasant to the taste, and, as has been shown, highly charged with carbonic acid gas; its action is diuretic, laxative and stimulative to the entire digestive tract. Eminent physicians claim that it is beneficial in dyspepsia, torpid liver, kidney and bladder irritation, and is also a tonic.
Whether this be true or not I cannot say, but I do know that every time I go to Glen Alpine I drink freely and abundantly of the water, to my great physical pleasure and satisfaction. It is one of the most delicious sparkling waters I have ever tasted, as gratifying to the palate and soothing to the fevered mucous membranes as Apollinaris or Shasta Water, and I am not alone in the wish I often express, viz., that I might have such a spring in my backyard at home.
One result of this discovery was that Mr. Gilmore decided to locate upon the land. As soon as the first claim was made secure a rude one-roomed cabin was built and Mr. Richardson was the first guest. Preparatory to bringing his family, Mr. Gilmore added two more rooms, and to render ingress easier he built a road to intersect with the Tallac road at the northern end of Fallen Leaf Lake. As this had to be blasted out with black powder, - it was before the days of dynamite, - Mr. Gilmore's devotion to the place can be well understood.
When his daughters grew up, they and their friends came here to spend their summers, and by and by, almost unconsciously, but pleasantly and agreeably, the place became a public resort. Though Mr. Gilmore has long since passed on, having died in Placerville, Calif., in the year 1898, Glen Alpine Springs is still in the ownership of his family, and its management and direction is entirely in their hands.