Step back 100 years in time to a historical western town nestled in the foothills of the Western Sierra Nevada.
Springville has accommodated Indian wars, rugged loggers, and early settlers. The first American explorers and pioneers to settle in the Springville area were in 1849. They found both the Tule River Watershed and the High Sierra to be both breathtaking and magical. Today they remain the same!
The first white men to explore the Tule River mountain country came when the Spanish began their missions on the Pacific Coast in 1770. Springville is bordered by three mountains - to the South, Snail Head; to the East, Lumereaux; and to the North, directly behind the Inn, lies Hatchet Peak.
Highway 190 runs through Springville today, but in Springville it is still called Main Street - the name it was given by Avon Coburn when he laid out the town in 1885.
In the pass between Black Mountain and Cow Mountain lies the old trail to the Tule River Indian Reservation. To the Indians, this was a very good spot for good living - the depth and size of the many potholes indicate the Indians ground a lot of acorns here. Game was plentiful, as were fish, fowl and vegetables.
It is not surprising that the explorers and pioneers recognized the value of living in this area with its bounty and excellent climate. John McKiearnan was possibly the earliest to settle in the Springville area around 1849.
It was John Crabtree who first settled in Springville proper. He registered a land patent for 160 acres in 1856 and his land extended from near the present-day rodeo grounds to Sequoia Dawn. With the Indians being placed on the reservation in the Alta Vista district in 1856, settlers began to come to the Tule River Watershed to file for land.
Because of the increasing traffic into the mountains, William C. Daunt settled in Springville around 1860 on a site he bought from Crabtree for a store, home and post office for the area. The first home in downtown Springville was that of John Crabtree which was located where the Chevron service station is today. Later the home became a health sanitarium and in 1885, was torn down and replaced by the Springville Hotel.
When Avon Coburn laid out the town in 1885, he built a planning mill near the river East of Soda Spring. This became a recreation spot for visitors to Springville who came to swim, dance and get away. This attracted other business-minded families and soon Springville had a general merchandise store, drug store and other service stores.
The Springville Hotel, built in 1885, was the hub of the social life of the town for many years. It was always a welcome site to visitors coming to Springville or who were on their way to other areas such as Mountain Home, Camp Nelson and Camp Wishon. By 1900 Springville was beginning to look like a town.
The Porterville Northeastern Railroad came to Springville in 1911. Great hope came with the railroad, and in 1911 the Wilkinson Building, now the Springville Inn, was constructed. The next year, Charles Elster built the Elster Building, the brick building across the street form the Inn. These were the first permanent-construction buildings in Springville and the only remaining original buildings left today.
The Springville Inn circa 1911
With the coming of the railroad, Springville became a resort town on the weekends. Dancing was done in either the dance hall on Main Street or at the swimming hole at Soda Spring. Baseball was one of the major sports and the entire town turned out to see the game and root for the home team. Tennis was also a popular sport and the town boasted two tennis courts - one near the Springville school and the other near the present day Sequoia Dawn.
As more people came to Springville via train, the roads were improved so automobiles could also make the journey with ease.
When Lake Success was formed in 1959, the road was changed to cross the Tule River in Porterville and followed the south side of the river until it reached present-day River Island Country Club and on into Springville.