|HISTORY OF WATANDA WATANDA VACATION RENTAL (707) 322-0945
|Camp Watanda is located on a small 15-acre reservoir, built in 1898 and used to develop a power plant for electricity in mining. Romulas Riggs
Colgate (grandson of the founder of the Colgate Soap and Perfume Co.) became an investment partner with Eugene J. Sabla, Alfonso Adolphus
Tregidgo, and John Martin. Together they developed hydro-electric power projects throughout northern California. Within 10 years, they
controlled the vast majority of all electric and gas systems in northern California, with the exception of San Francisco. They then purchased the
San Francisco Gas and Electric Co., which merged with their California Gas and Electric Company to create Pacific Gas and Electric Co. in
October of 1905.
In 1926 the Physical Education Department of Mills College, Oakland, offered courses in camp leadership which became an approved program
of the Camp Directors Association. In 1927 William H Griffith, of Nevada City and Clarence J. Wetmore heard that Mills College in Oakland was
looking for a summer camping site with waterfront property. Shortly after that, Mills College became the owner of the property surrounding Lake
Vera, and the “Pioneer Camping for Girls” was born and established at Camp Gold Hollow. According to the deed recorded December 7, 1927,
W. H. Griffith and F. M. Ray became the owners of the property known as Mills College Grove with the stipulation that it be used as camps for
girls and states that it cannot be used for “saloons, gambling, dance halls, boys or mens camp or auto camp purposes; and that no malt,
vinous, alcoholic or intoxicating liquors shall be manufactured".
The major history of the area began in 1850 with Alfred T Jackson and his friend Pard Anderson who panned, flumed and rocked about $14,000
in gold per year from Rock Creek, other miners on Brush Creek took in $100 per day in gold. The land on which Camp Gold Hollow and Camp
Watanda stands was mined by the 49er’s and Chinese, and then later remined. Damming Rock Creek and Brush Creek originally formed Lake
Vera creating hydroelectric power used for mining. Several gullies dot the area were built by miners to increase the water pressure from the
In 1934 the Piedmont Girls Community Services Inc. of Alameda became the new owners of Camp Watanda in a division of the lake properties
to various organizations serving girls. In 1939 the City of Alameda received its charter as a Camp Fire Council. In 1955, 44 acres was purchased
by Camp Fire from the now defunct Piedmont Girls Community Services (Harris A. Ray) for $5,363.68. The estate of Judge Otis and Ester Scott
Crooks, plus substantial gifts and proceeds from candy sales provided the funds to purchase the property and improvements and facilities to
open the camp for the first time in 1956 to accommodate 30 campers and staff, for a total investment of $14,876.50. In that first year, the
councilmen cleared trees for roads, built 3 living platforms or “kiosks”, a kitchen and dining platform, sanitary unit consisting of three flush toilets
and three showers, beach for waterfront activities, and provided water and power to the site. Since that first year, the Health Hut has been added,
a tool shed under the dining hall, a kiosk (1967) plus the counselor’s retreat and director’s cabin.
About 1992 the kiosks were all rebuilt and named after donors and volunteers who worked on the platforms, Marley, Caseywood, Gallup, and
Volunteers. During the 1970's Sunshine Charter school used this site and in the late 80’s and 90’s, a successful Day Camp was operated by
Camp Fire for the local community.
In 1998 the Alameda-Contra Costa Council of Camp Fire merged with the Columbia Park Boys and Girls Club, thereby taking ownership of
Camp Watanda. The camp was too small for the needs of the Boys and Girls Club and sat dormant until privately purchased by John and
Kathryn McNitt in December of 2002.
Watanda at Lake
for a romantic
weekend or your