El Verano, Sonoma County

Our little neighborhood called El Verano in Sonoma County was established in 1888 when a new train depot was built two miles west of the town of Sonoma. El Verano is said to mean “the summer” and the history of our area is one of small, modest houses and summer resorts offering home-cooked meals, swimming, dancing and entertainment. The proximity of natural hot springs in  Agua Caliente and Boyes Springs, and their healing waters, offered other ways to relax-and were promoted by the railroad companies as highly desirable destinations.

After we bought our cottage my sister-in-law, Pinky, came to visit and immediately recognized the area. “Wasn’t Verdier’s Resort right down the street?” she asked. “I’m sure it was – we used to go there for the day to swim and sometimes even spent the night.”

The streets still looked similar enough to stir her memory – even though the resort is long gone.

A little bit of research confirmed that Verdier’s was indeed one of the local resorts and we only had to walk two short blocks down Oak Street to where it met Linden Street to explore a bit.

Oak and Linden Street Sign in El Verano
Oak and Linden Street Sign in El Verano

We peered through an old fence into the yard and saw a large, empty swimming pool. “That’s it!” Pinky said. “I remember the elevated pool.”

Elevated pool at Verdier's Resort in El Verano, Sonoma County
Elevated pool at Verdier’s Resort in El Verano, Sonoma County

Verdier’s has been replaced by individual homes, the pool is long gone, and only one foot bridge out of five remains over the small water culvert.

One remaining foot bridge at the site of the old Verdier's resort in El Verano, Sonoma County
Remaining foot bridge at the site of the old Verdier’s Resort, El Verano, Sonoma County

 

Quintuplet Bridges at Verdier's Resort in El Verano, Sonoma County
Quintuplet Bridges at Verdier’s Resort. Courtesy of El Verano Historical Society

Our cottage is just down the road from the summer resort that used to be Verdier’s and we are on Oak Street nestled between Railroad Avenue and the old swimming hole at Riverside Drive. Our street is wider than the others around us and one of our neighbors says that when the train stopped at the El Verano depot, the freight cars were loaded and unloaded by wagons that made their way up and down our street, which is why it was built a bit roomier. Neighborhood kids who didn’t have a day pass for a pool at one of the local resorts frolicked in the creek at the end of our block and resort guests likely enjoyed goods that were transported up and down our street. Old photos show rows of bikes at the resorts, vintage wood and canvas sling chairs, and the “wagonettes” that the resorts sent to pick up travelers from the train station. It’s easy to imagine the bustling and delightful summer activities of both locals and the resort guests.

I love that we live in El Verano much in the way it was originally intended. Simple homes with ample gardens and fruit trees in an area that was a perfect location to build summer retreats for people from neighboring cities to be close to nature and to relax and rejuvenate. Days that were simpler, slower and remain forever etched in people’s memories. Some things don’t change (or not that much!) – and that can be a very good thing.

 

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10 thoughts on “El Verano, Sonoma County

    1. Thank you, Roy! I have come across your name for years in connection to El Verano and Sonoma and I hope we can meet. More posts on El Verano and it’s history history to come. We just visited the Depot Museum and it inspired me.

  1. I loved this little slice of Sonoma history, especially because it involves a railroad depot, and trains are a big interest of mine. You might enjoy reading “The Rangity Tango Kids” by Lorraine Rominger, a book about growing up in Winters (Yolo County, but still close by). It’s a simple but heartwarming book about the simple living you describe. Thank you for this sweet tale!

    1. Hi Paula, There is quite a bit of railroad history here in Sonoma County and my recent visit to the Depot Park museum was both fun and enlightening. I know that I have heard of Lorraine Rominger but was unaware of the book – which I will be sure to check out. Stay tuned for more to come about trains and the role the railroad played in our little town and in the entire North Bay. There are a couple of spots at the Russian River where you can still see the tracks from the narrow gauge trains that brought vacationers to the area. Certainly a by-gone era!

    1. Thank you, Karen! I hope you keep reading and commenting. It helps to know what people like to read about so send me any suggestions!

  2. I have fond memories of countless weekends spent at Verdier’s with my aunt when I was a teenager in the 1950s I remember the owners’ son, JP, had to serve us dinner (his mom did the cooking). No matter how many guests there were JP always gave me my dessert LAST. My aunt, of course, thought it was very funny! I spent lots of wonderful hours at that pool and I also recall a large room adjacent to the bar (his uncle was the bartender) where we could dance. If you are in contact with JP please tell him Patty said hello.

    Thank you very much for sharing your experiences.

    Patty

    1. Hi Michael, I have seen your wonderful site and have told others to check it out as well. I feel like I know you already through James Marshall Berry who is also interested in local history. I haven’t had as much time to dig around lately but once we can socialize again I have a few people on my interview list! Julia

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