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GEOTHERMAL PIPELINE

Progress and Development Update Geothermal Progress Monitor

CALIFORNIA Historical Perspective - Coso Hot Springs Resort

The earliest written record describing Coso Hot Springs dates to 1860, when a miner at nearby Silver Peak named M. H. Farley mentioned “boiling hot springs to the south.” An 1881-survey of the area by the U.S. government noted “thousands of hot mud springs of all consistencies and colors,” and early maps show “Hot Sulphur Springs” at the location referred to today as Coso Hot Springs.

In 1895, William T. Grant was deeded a quarter interest in the Coso Hot Springs area and by 1909, had established a health resort there. The first documented owner and proprietor of the Coso Hot Springs Resort was Frank Adams, who lived on the site from 1912 until approximately 1920. Some believe that Adams was hired by Grant and his partner Dr. I. J. Woodin to manage the property that they actually owned.

steam

Claims of medicinal value of Coso waters, mud and ranged from cures for venereal disease to constipation.

In

1917,

an

advertising

brochure

issued

by

the

Owl

Drug

Co.

announced

availability

of

mud

from

Coso

Hot

Springs

at

the

bargain price of “$3.00 per jar”—a Water was also bottled and sold “Volcanic Health and Beauty

hefty sum for that period. bearing the promise of, from Natures’s Great

Laboratory.” The bottle vitalizing blood builder

bore the claim that it, “...is a which aids digestion, destroys

invading bacteria and is especially recommended in cases of gastritis, stomach and intestinal catarrh. The water acts di- rectly upon the liver and kidneys, thus eliminating toxic water,

the

neglect

of

which

so

often

causes

nervousness,

high

blood

pressure

and

rheumatism.

Recommended

four

doses

daily.”

Clientele at the Coso Hot Springs Resort during the early years were primarily residents of nearby Rose Valley, Owens Valley, and a doctor from Santa Maria. Later visitors, able to take advantage of the newfangled “horseless carriage,” came from the Los Angeles Basin, San Bernardino, and as far away as San Francisco.

The resort remained in operation until 1943, when the U.S. Navy began purchasing land for their China Lake Naval Ordinance Test Station (forerunner of today’s Naval Air Weapons Station). By 1947, all land purchases had been completed and the Coso Resort Hot Springs–now located within the boundary of the Navy base–was permanently closed.

Lassen Volcanic National Park - “A Nose for Viruses”

are

“Extreme” viruses that live in reeking volcanic pools being studied by microbiologist, Ken Stedman, from

Portland

State

University.

The

microorganisms,

called

thermophiles for their ability to live in geothermal hot springs,

bear

a

primeval

resemblance

to

human

cells.

They

look

like

bacteria, but belong to a organisms called archaea. to the way human viruses and penetrate a cell and

completely different category of These viruses could provide clues attack us; since, they are parasites take over the cell’s reproductive

ability. Biotechnology companies are they might trigger thermophile genes

studying the viruses as responsible for certain

biochemical

catlysts.

Many

industrial

processes,

such

as

paper pulping and chemicals that work

animal feed milling, rely in harsh, high-temperature

on expensive environments.

Dr. Stedman’s work have taken him to Kamchatka, in eastern Siberia and more recently to Yellowstone and Lassen Volcanic national parks. At Lassen, he worked at the Sulphur Works, Bumpass Hell and Devil’s Kitchen - looking especially for a particular archaean thermophile called sulfolobus. The sulfolobus habitat is in water around 176oF and an acidic environment that is identified by the hydrogen sulfide “rotten egg” smell.

The samples taken in the Park are returned to the lab and allowed to grow and be experimented with to determined their DNA sequences. As a result, Dr. Steadman and a handful of other scientists have described about 40 new archaean viruses. For him, the beauty of the viral biology itself is more appealing than potential applications for swine feed and paper pulping. He is trying to understand the biology instead of just crunching DNA up and spitting it out. Industry, on the other hand, is hoping the virus cells contain the genetic codes for thousand of enzymes, proteins that act as catalysts for chemical reactions. Dutch scientists may have triggered sulfolobus to produce the enzyme that breaks down cellulose, the woody material in paper. Paper companies, who pulping processes operate at high temperatures, are interested. Diversa, a San Diego-based biotech company, is looking at the possibility for the animal feed market--which could enhance nutrient digestion in pigs and chickens, and reduce the harsh wastes the animals produce. (Eric K. Hand, 2002. “A Nose for Viruses,” Oregonian (August 21), Portland, OR, pp. A17-A18).

(Edited from A Land Use History of Coso Hot Springs, Inyo County, California. Naval Weapons Center Administrative Publication 200, 1979, 233 p. - published in the Geothermal Resources Council Bulletin, Vol. 31, No. 5 (2002) - Ted Clutter, editor)

20

GHC BULLETIN, MARCH 2004

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