Historical Highlights of Rubicon Soda Springs

Rubicon Springs has been a destination for adventure seekers and travelers from Georgetown and Lake Tahoe since the late 1860s when George and John Hunsucker, of Georgetown, built a log cabin on 40 acres of Central Pacific Railroad Company land. The cabin was located between the Rubicon River and the springs. The brothers soon added a stock corral and additional outbuildings, creating the Rubicon Soda Springs Resort. They bottled the natural soda-based spring water and sold it in Georgetown and Tahoe City.

The historic wagon road, now the current trail leading from Georgetown to Rubicon Springs, was improved in the late 19th century by El Dorado County. Then, in 1887, the county designated the wagon road a “public road.”

In 1888, the new owner of Rubicon Springs Resort, Sierra Nevada “Vade” Clarke, built a 16-room seasonal hotel near the current site of our Caretaker’s Cabin to accommodate the adventurous tourists. The hotel was complete with horsehair furniture, a foot-pedal organ, white table linens and polished silver utensils. In 1909 the hotel was bought by Ralph Colwell who added 160 acres to the property. The popular resort operated continuously through the 1926 season and closed permanently after the untimely death of the owner.

In the 1930’s, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) was acquiring large tracks of land in the watershed of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to support their water distribution and electricity production. In the process of land acquisition PG&E bought the 280 acres of the then abandoned Rubicon Springs.

In 1952, a small group of residents from Georgetown and the surrounding area met to plan and organize a Jeep tour over the original Rubicon Trail between Georgetown and McKinney’s on Lake Tahoe’s West Shore. The group became known as the “Committee” and Mark Smith was appointed “Jeep Master” for the trip. On August 29, 1953, the planning and organizing became a reality when 55 Jeeps with 154 adventurers left Georgetown on a two-day trip now known as Jeepers Jamboree 1. These pioneers created a new breed of tourists that includes you!

In 1974, PG&E sold several tracks of timber land to the Yuba River Lumber Company, including the original Rubicon Springs parcel. After a merger in 1980 the company became known as Bohemia Lumber Company. Within a few years, Bohemia, Inc. found it difficult to compete with both smaller and larger forest product companies and began selling their land holdings, which would also include the Rubicon Springs parcel.

Mark Smith, the Jeep Master, knew there was a risk of losing access to the trail and Rubicon Springs, so he organized a group of like-minded families to form a partnership to purchase the historical parcel. In 1985, that partnership known today as Rubicon Soda Springs, Inc. (RSSI), purchased 320 acres of the Rubicon Valley in order to preserve Rubicon Springs and access to the Rubicon Trail.

Ever since those early days, travelers have enjoyed the picturesque scenery of glaciated granite slabs, tall pines, the clear cold Rubicon River, plentiful wildlife, and soda based mineral water. RSSI hopes you will too.

For a complete historical perspective, please read “Rubicon Springs and The Rubicon Trail: a history” by Rick Morris.