“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Piedmont in Alameda County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

Sulphur Springs Grotto

The Healing Powers of Mineral Springs

Sulphur Springs Grotto Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, March 7, 2014
1. Sulphur Springs Grotto Marker
Caption: Mark Twain is the slim gentleman to the left of center (center photograph).
Inscription. The first recorded visitor to the sulphur springs grotto is Isaac Holmes, a retired U.S. Senator from South Carolina, who reportedly installed a bathtub in Bushy Dell canyon in the early 1860s in order to take alfresco baths for his rheumatism.

Walter Blair hoped to capitalize on the curative powers of the water when he bought the park property. According to the newspaper, ”The waters of these springs contain sulphur, magnesia, iodine and iron and are claimed by those who have used the waters to have great curative qualities for rheumatism, neuralgia, dyspepsia and kidney ailments.” Blair bottled his mineral water and built a decorative gazebo over the spring where passersby could use a tin drinking cup. The gazebo features prominently in a photograph of Mark Twain circa 1869 when he was on a lecture tour in San Francisco and also appears on the cover of the prospectus for Piedmont Park tract in 1877.

When Frank C. Havens bought the park property in the 1890s he installed a new man-made faux stone grotto at the springs. The grotto restoration project was completed in 2007 to celebrate the cityís centennial. It incorporates remnants of Havenís grotto.

”What appears as a tremendous boulder has been built deep in hills, and there, in the twilight of concealed electricity, ferns
Sulphur Springs Grotto Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, March 7, 2014
2. Sulphur Springs Grotto Marker
cluster around springs of sulphur and magnesia water, while within a tiny aquarium inserted in the rocky wall, fish dart about, flashing light from their golden fins. It all seems so natural that it is hard to realize that the artistic ingenuity of man had planned and executed such a lovely picture.”
- Carlotta Sessions, Reporter, Overland Monthly Magazine, 1901
Erected by Piedmont Beautification Foundation.
Location. 37° 49.335′ N, 122° 13.974′ W. Marker is in Piedmont, California, in Alameda County. Marker can be reached from Wildwood Avenue, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. This marker is located in Piedmont Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 317 Wildwood Avenue, Oakland CA 94611, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Cascade (within shouting distance of this marker); Eucalyptus Amphitheater (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Maze (about 800 feet away); Piedmont Art Gallery (about 800 feet away); Piedmont Springs Hotel (about 800 feet away); Faux Bois Benches (approx. 0.2 miles away); Piedmont Springs Clubhouse & Cafe (approx. 0.2 miles away); Honor Roll (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Piedmont.
Categories. Man-Made FeaturesNatural FeaturesScience & Medicine
Sulphur Springs Grotto image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, March 7, 2014
3. Sulphur Springs Grotto
Piedmont Springs image. Click for full size.
By Muybridge, circa 1870s
4. Piedmont Springs
Mark Twain stands left of center.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on March 17, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 527 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on March 17, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.
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