and other stuff
I cannot pin down precisely the age of this soda, as I have not done any research on it. However, looking at the lettering font style of the base my guess is that this would have been a product of P.G.W. during the years that James Bennett, Robert Pattridge and John Taylor were the owners; which would put it 1870 to 1874.
Here is an email from Kentucky Gem....Alma, California Alma is a ghost town in Santa Clara County in California, United States. It lies beneath the waters of the Lexington Reservoir above Los Gatos. There are two different possible origins for the name of the town. The first is that the town was the location of a branch road that led to the New Almaden mine. The second, and more fanciful, origin is that the town was named after a local prostitute. The original town name registered with the Postal Service in 1861 was Lexington. It was re-registered as Alma in 1873. The town was mostly demolished when the James J. Lenihan Dam was constructed there in 1952. Alma, at the time, had a population of less than 100 people. The town was an important rail stop for the logging industry in the Santa Cruz Mountains as well as a stop for vacationers heading to the coast from the Santa Clara Valley. Alma had a stage stop, hotel, saloons, small agricultural operations, general merchandise store, and lumber mills, as well as other establishments. A narrow gauge railroad served Alma from 1880 to 1940. Just north of Alma was the town of Lexington, which had greatly declined by the time that dam and reservoir were constructed. The next stop south on the railroad was Wrights, also known as Wrights Station or Wright's Station. Some foundational structures are only visible when the water levels drop in the reservoir, and some old roads and a bridge dating from 1926. The bridge can only be viewed when the water level is unusually low, such as the summer of 2008 when construction on the dam lowered the water level to 7% capacity. Modern day State Route 17 passes by the reservoir—beneath which lie the former towns of Lexington and Alma. My grandfather worked on the S.P. railroad and lived in another small town called Wrights, towards Santa Cruz, in the early teens. I recall him talking about Alma. According to him, it was important because it was a shipping point for the most of the tan bark that was used by the tanneries in S.F. There was also a failed venture with a soda springs that tried to cash in on the popularity of Azule, Sages and Pacific Congress Springs located a few miles to the NW. Odds are, this is the bottle that was made for them. I've never seen one in all the years that I pawed around the area. Hope this helps.Thanks K.G.!!
I hear there are two examples of the Alma soda known so far. Both found well away from Alma, California. Alma was never big enough to support a soda works in my opinion. Perhaps it was a bottling/distribution point for another larger firm's soda water? For special mold bottles to have been ordered and blown is baffling for such a small concern.
Based on the information that I've got in ca. 1870's and 80's diaries and almanac's; "Tollgate" (later McCartysville and later yet, Saratoga) had approximately the same resident population as Alma did during the same time period. Considering the expense of having the Azule and "running deer' Pacific Congress Water picture molds cut, it's not beyond reason to allow that the simple mold for the Misenheimer and Hall / Alma Soda was commissioned for this small endeavor in an equally small town. Further more, there are no other documented settlements, either in Nevada or California, by the name of Alma. That being said, it is quite probable that the bottles blown for Alma Soda date to the ca. 1873 - 1874, window suggested by Warren and the P.G.W. for the Soda Works at Alma / Lexington, Ca.
My guess would be that the soda is indeed from the Alma in Santa Clara County, where the supplying spring was. The town name embossed is in reference to the Spring source/location, not the intended market location, ie: all the "Napa's" we dig throughout the West. I've learned from digging over the yrs, that when it comes to digging rare small town sodas, the best place NOT to dig them is in the town they are from. Most were returned for deposit. Places far away, where there was an agent stocking the brand in his locale, and having only made a one way trip,are where rare bottles like these seem to have survived for the digger to uncover !AP
Considering that Misenheimer "missed the mark" when purchasing land that he thought the spring was on, only to find that it was actually located some 250 yds outside his PL, it is my contention that he did not ever actually fill or sell any of the bottles with his and Hall's name embossed on them. Most of the bottles(6?) found to date have come from NV, or mystery locations far from the tiny crossroads from whence they came. It might be fair to suppose that after the failed venture the bottles were sold to other dealers and simply relabeled and used for their products. The reuse of bottles was commonplace at the time, so why not the Alma Soda.
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