Remembering the old days at Grover
Laurie Hickey, a sixth-seventh generation native of Western Nevada, recently shared with me some stories from her childhood. She and the other youngsters in the family used to enjoy spending summers with her grandmother, aunts and uncles in Markleville. The Barrett fountain in that town is named in honor of her grandfather Charles “Charlie” Barrett.
“One of the favorite things the kids loved to do was go over to the Old Hot Springs. It was surrounded by a timeworn wooden fence made of boards that were probably about eight inches wide and six to eight feet long which totally enclosed the pool. Two dressing room were located on the west side; one for women and one for men (things were much simpler then).”
“Their shed roofs slanted away from the pool and you needed to enter through the dressing rooms to get to the water. There you found old wooden benches attached to the walls and yet another door, this one finally allowing access to the pool. It had a cement bottom that had turned a sort of ugly tan-brown color — most than likely from the minerals in the water,” she continued. “That water was so hot it took you a few minutes to get in,” Hickey said. “Ugh! Then came the worst part as the bottom of the pool was covered with crud that was very lightweight and sometimes 2-3 inches deep. Your movement would stir it up and it gave you the creeps as it swirled around you in the water.”
“Often during the summer when we went to the hot springs my parents would first stop at the little house located in the area of the parking lot past the pool. They visited with Charlie Scossa, the owner of the property at that time. He lived there during the summer and kept cattle in the meadow. I remember him as always sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee. He never controlled nor charged anyone to use the pool and even provided a pull-chain light to allow for evening dips,” said Hickey.
Things have quite naturally changed a lot since then, the spot is now called “Grover Hot Springs” and is a California State Park since 1959. Recently, Laurie and I visited there to get an update. The property, now maintained and staffed by the state, is no longer free to use. However, daily rates are pretty reasonable. It is just $10 for adults and $5 for those 16 and under. The short drive from Minden-Gardnerville to Markleville is woodsy and scenic, and makes for a great and affordable day trip to take with your children, grandchildren, and visitors. The complex includes a choice of several hiking trails, picnic areas for day camping and campgrounds for extended stays during the overnight camping season which usually begins around Memorial Day and ends after Labor Day. Call the park for upcoming dates as maintenance work sometimes affects the regular schedule.
A large, sparkling swimming pool has been added which is kept at about 80 degrees. The old hot spring pool is still full of minerals and is yellowish-green in color, but the sludge reminiscent of days gone by has been alleviated as it is drained nightly. The pool’s temperature is maintained between 102-104 degrees.
Should you go to Grover’s just to check it out and find yourself unable to resist the urge to try the water, they will even rent you bathing suits and towels. The pools are open year-round except Wednesdays in the off-season, and on Thanksgiving and Christmas day. There is no smoking or food allowed around the pool area.
Park Ranger Josh Heitzmann (yes, he’s kept the old German second “n” in the spelling of his name) tells us they are currently interviewing potential lifeguards for the season. So, anyone at least 16 years of age with a Red Cross First Aid and Lifeguard certification might consider spending the summer among the pines at this lovely site. Grover Hot Springs State Park is located four miles west of Markleeville, at the end of Hot Springs Road. The park is in an alpine meadow and pine forest at 5,900 feet surrounded by peaks that just top 10,000 feet. For pool Information call 530-694-2249; for general information call 530-694-2249. See their website for complete information. parks.ca.gov/?page_id=508.
Contact Anita Kornoff at firstname.lastname@example.org