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The History of Indian Springs


Indian Springs’ history began millions of years ago with the eruption of Mt. Konocti, 20 miles away. This event deposited volcanic ash on the land and created a fissure in the earth, allowing groundwater to reach hot magma at a depth of 4,000 feet before resurfacing as thermal geysers at 230 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Wapoo Indians settled on this land 8,000 years ago and established three villages. They called it the “Oven Place” and built sweat lodges over the escaping steam and bathed in the warm mineral waters. The Spanish arrived in the 17th century and named it “Agua Caliente.”

Sam Brannan, one of California’s earliest entrepreneurs, purchased the entire upper Napa Valley in the 1860s, with a vision of creating a world-class resort. He built the original spa, mud baths, pool and racetrack in 1861. In 1880, Leland Stanford bought the resort with the intention of locating Stanford University here. Instead, he established Stanford in Palo Alto and the spa tradition continued as Sam Brannan had envisioned. In 1905, the Pacheteau family operated the property and renamed it Pacheteau Baths. It became a popular wellness destination for generations of Bay Area families.

In 1988, Pat and John Merchant purchased the property and, out of respect for those who were here first, renamed it Indian Springs. In 2004, the Merchants acquired the adjoining spa and hotel, known as Nance’s, and incorporated it into Indian Springs. Those 24 rooms have since been beautifully renovated and are now The Lodge.

The past continues to inspire the present. In 2014, we expanded into previously untouched areas of our 17-acre property, adding 75 new guest rooms, indoor and outdoor event spaces, our first restaurant, Sam’s Social Club, and paths and gardens for more access to the environment.