In June of 1900, Alexander Sifford, an ailing school teacher from Susanville, CA made the difficult three day wagon journey with his wife Ida and son Roy (daughter Pearl remained home with the mumps) to Hot Springs Valley to camp and allow Alex to drink the soda waters of “Drake’s Spring”. Pioneer Edward Drake had settled in this valley in the latter part of the nineteenth century acquiring 400 acres of land which he opened up to campers and weary travelers that came seeking his “hot waters”.
Drake in his late 70’s that summer in 1900 saw the Siffords as good people that had the same visions for the lovely valley as he had. After three days of Alex drinking the water and talking to the “lanky pioneer”, the Siffords bought the property for $6,000. On June 20, 1900 the Siffords took possession of Drake’s Hot Spring Valley which was renamed Drakesbad (Drake’s baths) in 1908 by the Siffords in honor of Drake.
It began as a healthful retreat, remote and far away, requiring arduous physical exertion to reach.
Camping cost 25 cents a night, meals were 50 cents, a bath in the hot springs pool was 25 cents and pasturing live stock was 5 cents a head! Some “things” have changed over the past 113 years, but not the attention given to customer service or protection of the environment.
In 1916 Congress established Lassen Volcanic National Park as the fifteenth national park in the United States. Privately held Drakesbad bordered the park in the southeast corner. The Sifford family continued to run their beloved Guest Ranch as good neighbors of the Park Service each summer for forty-two years. To preserve the Ranch and guarantee continued quality service for generations to come, Drakesbad was sold to the US government in 1958 for inclusion in to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Since that sale there have been three park concessionaires: for the past 36 years Drakesbad has been run by California Guest Services where the emphasis is still on outstanding customer service!
Click here to begin a wonderful pictorial journey through the historic archives of Drakesbad Guest Ranch. We are grateful to NPS Volunteer Researcher, Dr. Tandy Bozeman of Lake Almanor, California.