|White Sulphur Springs Ranch||
It was in 1852 that White Sulphur Springs Ranch, of about 400 acres, came into existence through the efforts of three men, whose names were Gould, Friend, and Jamison. They worked at developing the ranch for a few years then sold to another pioneer, Mr. Fred King, who according to one source noted that he began running the ranch as a hotel in 1858.
The exact date of construction of the combination ranch house and stagecoach stop is unknown but is thought to be between 1857 and 1867. George McLear, a Jamison City merchant, purchased the property from King in 1867.
From that time until its sale in 2003, the property remained in his family and with the family of close associates. Long recognized as an important piece of Plumas County history, the White Sulphur Springs Ranch has been listed as an historic property in the Plumas County General Plan since at least 1983. The forced auction and sale of the property, house, and contents in 2003 ended the long tenure of family and associates. According to local historian, Edward C. Brown, now deceased,
"The road in front of the ranch is now Highway 89 and paved, but it was dirt and not much of a road when White Sulphur Springs Ranch came into existence. That was in 1852. It was first a stagecoach stop, hotel for travelers and ranch, serving the stagecoach line that ran between Quincy and Truckee".
The ranch and property was purchased in 1867 by George Spear McLear, a native of Pennsylvania. McLear, born in 1828, was trained in the east in carpentry and furniture making. He set sail from New York in 1855, bound for San Francisco. Prior to arriving in the Mohawk Valley area, McLear lived in El Dorado County, Weaverville, and Yreka and had several trades, including carpentry and mining. He gave up a merchandising operation to purchase the Sulphur Springs Ranch, which subsequently took on his name. During the same month he bought the ranch, on October 17th 1867, George McLear married Mrs. Mary J. Purdom. The McLear-Purdom marriage produced four children, Edith, Maud, Isabel (Bel), and George, Jr. In 1879, George McLear was appointed to serve the remainder of a vacant supervisor term. In 1880, he was subsequently elected to the office, in which he occupied several successive terms. While engaged as a county supervisor, McLear continued the various operations at the ranch, maintaining its status as stagecoach stop and hotel. He died in 1890.
Fariss & Smith’s 1882 History of Plumas County described the ranch as follows: “At the head of the valley, close up to the encircling mountains, is Sulphur Springs Ranch and hotel, property of George S. McLear, a member of the board of supervisors for this district. This is one of the most beautiful and attractive mountain resorts of Plumas. It lies on the sunny side of the valley, 5,000 feet above the sea, overlooking fine meadows, beyond which rise the lofty, snow-capped peaks of the Sierra summits. The water of the spring is warm, and known as white sulphur. It has never been analyzed, but is believed to closely resemble the famous springs of Virginia. The hotel building contains three stories, is finely furnished, and pleasingly managed by Mrs. McLear and her estimable daughter Frankie (from a previous marriage). It is located on the stage road from Quincy and Plumas Eureka to Truckee, and the Sierra Iron and Quincy R.R. Co. will soon have a narrow gauge track connecting the valley with Reno.”
George McLear died in 1890, leaving the ranch and its operations to his four children, none of whom were ever to marry.
The four McLear children remained on the ranch for the duration of their lives, offering the hotel and grounds for private parties and community events. Isabel or “Bel” was the last of the McLear children to live on the ranch; she died in the early 1950s leaving WSSR to her good friend Mava Thomas DeArmond.
Mava offered the spring fed Olympic sized swimming pool to the community and for private parties. She began restorative work to the house and grounds. Mava died in 1974, leaving the property to her nephew, Harry McKenzie. Mr. McKenzie continued to maintain it in the style folks have enjoyed for over a century. He and his wife Lea installed a forced air heating system that utilized the 80-degree hot water from the sulphur springs and continued the work at renewing the charm of WSSR until his death in 1983.
In addition to the structures, the Ranch is now a 39 acre parcel with warm springs, artesian cold springs, ponds with riparian habitat, upland watershed, meadow, and Maidu cultural sites.
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Mohawk Valley Stewardship Council
P.O. Box 25, Clio, CA 96106
501 (c)(3) EIN # 26-3910738
Mohawk Valley Stewardship Council is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit corporation that owns and operates the historic White Sulphur Springs Ranch.