RUSSIAN RIVER DAM A seasonal dam just downstream of Memorial Beach, which is still erected most years, created a recreational body of water known as Lake Sotoyome 100 years ago. (Photos courtesy Healdsburg Museum)

100 years ago – May 17, 1923

Lake Sotoyome to Reach Around Fitch Mountain For Summer Residents

It appears virtually assured that Lake Sotoyome, Healdsburg’s summer bathing and boating “lake,” will this season be located high enough up the Russian River to back the water up around Fitch Mountain. Here the summer resort visitors and the summer residents of the picturesque mound will have advantage of the deep water for their aquatic recreation. 

The Chamber of Commerce discussed the proposition in its regular quarterly meeting Monday night. Speakers were favorable to the plan, realizing that Lake Sotoyome should be made more available to summer visitors to this section than it has been when the dam which holds the water was built below the bridge. The dam committee is looking into the plans and will report back to the board of directors. Early construction of the dam is favored. 

75 years ago – May 7, 1948

Palomar Being Readied for Summer Dances by 20-30 Club

The Palomar Dance Hall on the Fitch Mountain Road is having its face lifted, but good, by the driving 20-30 Club who have been busy for the past month sanding floors, cleaning the place up and down and redecorating for the big opening dance on May 22.

Chairman of the year-round dance program planned by the club is Bob Howard who has a trio of men as his aids to help sponsor the weekly dances. Bob Soracco, Merle Smith and Zip Barbieri along with Howard will each take a monthly turn at supervising the events. Plans include a dance every Saturday night and Holiday weekends as a start, but might, according to a club spokesman, be expanded to a twice-a-week event.

SO MUCH FUN Poster announcing a 1944 Coronation Ball at the Palomar, at what is now Del Rio, once a lively night spot for area residents.

50 years ago – May 3, 1973

A Monastery at the Bishop’s Ranch

A Franciscan monastery has been established at the Bishop’s Ranch, El Rancho del Obispo, on West Side Rd., which has long served as a conference center and retreat for the Episcopal Diocese of California.

The 73-acre retreat, which includes a magnificent old home overlooking the Russian River Valley, cottages, a dining room and chapel, has not been sold to the Roman Catholic Church. It is still very much a part of the Episcopal Church because the monks are Episcopalians.

BISHOP’S RANCH The Episcopal Church at El Rancho del Obispo on Westside Road, circa 1965.

Brother Philip, the 28-year-old head of the monastery, explains the new friary was established April 1 for them. It will continue to be used as a conference and retreat center for the church, as well as a summer retreat for kids. But its hospitality will also be extended to any group throughout the Bay Area and Northern California, as long as it is non-profit. 

It will also serve as the establishment for the friar’s regular daily life of prayer, where they will be able to meditate and pursue their call to the service of God. So far there are three monks at the ranch, with three more expected later. 

Thanks to the Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society.

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