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Ventura County











            Coming to California from Illinois, Webb W. Wilcox has devoted the best efforts of his life to the management and control of Wheelers Hot Springs, one of the leading health resorts of the state.  These famous springs were named for the late Wheeler C. Blumberg, who acquired direct from the government the land in Wheeler Springs Canyon where the springs are located.

            Wheelers Hot Springs are situated in the Ventura Mountains, north of Ojai, and a short distance south of Wheelers Cold Springs, which are on the headwaters of the Sespe River.  Conditions are admirable, with clear mountain air and rugged scenery, while the waters that rush between the canyon walls are alive with trout.  The Wheelers Springs Company has furnished all the comforts and facilities required for the thorough enjoyment of these natural resources.  The Hot Springs are about ninety miles from Los Angeles over the new state highway, and the automobile road leads directly to them.  The Cold Springs, nine miles distant, are accessible only by trail, and that is an advantage, since this locality somewhat isolated, is not over-crowded and affords opportunity for real open air recreation and fishing.  The Hot Springs are about fifteen hundred feet above sea level, while the trail rises toward the Cold Springs, which are nearly thirty-five hundred feet above the sea.  As a result of the enterprises of the late Mr. Blumberg and his associates, splendid hotel facilities have been provided at the Hot Springs, dancing pavilions, facilities for outdoor and indoor games and sports, while the waters from the hot mineral wells have been diverted into a large swimming tank.  More and more every season this is becoming one of the most favored resorts for those who desire to get back to nature in its most rugged and picturesque form.  The Wheelers Hot Springs are also a health resort of importance.  The waters have qualities which have proved very effectual in the treatment and cure of many diseases, especially those connected with the stomach and digestive tracts.

            The following is an excerpt form an attractive folder describing Wheelers Hot Springs:  “Nature’s playground-two magic words that speak volumes to the prospective vacationist-those in search of health, rest and recreation-and if volumes were written they would not convey more clearly the beckoning call of the great outdoors.  Nature was rather lavish when she was distributing her favors about the olden west, but she seemed especially so when she came to Ventura County, in which Wheeler Springs is located.  Enticingly nestled high in the green-covered Ventura Mountains, only nineteen miles from the Pacific Ocean, Wheelers is favored in the summer months with the ocean breezes, and the absence of the other extremes in the winter months is evidenced by the fact that the orange trees throughout the grounds never freeze.  Situated on the banks of the north fork of the Ventura river, a cold, clear mountain trout stream, the grounds covered with hundreds of beautiful shade trees of every description, Wheelers is a veritable natural mountain park, and with the many interesting foot and saddle paths leading deeper in to the surrounding mountains, it has a lure that calls the people back year after year.  One of the most gratifying things to the management is its large list of ‘repeaters,’ a most valuable asset of any business.  The wonderful natural setting of the resort and the exceptional climatic conditions are reason enough for the maintenance of a highly satisfactory vacation spot, but the fact that Wheelers also has in addition many large and wonderful springs of medicinally hot and cold mineral waters, gives it a combination of natural advantage that is unexcelled and offers unusual healthful  recreation.  The open-air plunge is filled with a constantly flowing stream of naturally warm water and the tub baths are hot.  What could be more satisfying and refreshing than these after a hike or a saddle trip or some exhilarating outdoor sport?  It makes you feel like new, for the waters are quieting and healing and give you back that vitality lost in the usual rush of our daily life and will send you back to your work full of pep.

            “For those that want to ‘just play,’ Wheelers has worlds to offer.  The playgrounds for the kiddies, the burros, the saddle horses, trout fishing, three streams, swimming, hunting, tennis, quoits, billiards, bowling, and the real feature, our nightly dances.  A snappy high-class orchestra furnishes music that you cannot resist, and our hardwood dance floor has a reputation ‘all its own.’  Our accommodations are on the detached cottage plan, with meals at the main dining room, or the fully equipped housekeeping cottages, where you can ‘cook it yo’self.’  Our well stocked store provides all foods in season, and we have our own dairy and gardens and our farm with the different fowls and animals is an added attraction.  Untied States post office, barber shop, phones, electric illumination, confectionery and soft drinks, refrigeration plant, laundry and garage are some of the conveniences to make it easy for you.  Good meals and good beds and a desire to satisfy you are outstanding features.  Special care is shown to ladies and children visiting alone.  Wheelers’ is one place where an especial appeal is made to the kiddies and our slogan is “For old and young, health and fun.’

            “Wheelers’ is only six miles by auto from the beautiful Ojai Valley, in which the unique village of Ojai is located.  This valley enjoys the distinction of having one of the most perfect climates in the world and is the mecca of tourists from all parts.  The famous Ojai Valley Country Club golf course, which is conceded to be the sportiest in the west, is located here.  A trip to Santa Barbara from Wheelers is an enjoyable one-distance forty-six miles.

            “The curative and medicinal properties of these waters cannot be overestimated.  The hot mineral water being so heavily charged with sodium chloride, when used for baths, increases the action of the skin and by absorption acts as a tonic.  Sodium carbonate combined with the other bicarbonate constituents are used to stimulate the secretion of the digestive tract, neutralize super-acidity of the stomach, increase the flow of the urine, improve the appetite, and dissolve uric acid deposits.  The waters cure all disease of the stomach, bowls, kidneys and liver, all blood diseases, rheumatism, etc.-catarrh, dyspepsia, indigestion, biliousness, asthmas, weak back, and are exceptionally good for those who have intoxicants to excess.  Even if you are not ill, the water will do you any amount of good, for it acts very much like a spring tonic, giving the system a thorough cleansing, thereby making it unnecessary to use medicine.  Massage treatments of all kinds and also electric treatments are given in connection with the use of the hot cold mineral waters, both for drinking and bathing and the combination has proved to give wonderfully beneficial results.  The beauty parlor attendants give the regular course of shampoo, marcelling, facials, etc.  Competent attendants for both ladies and gentlemen.

            Wheelers Cold Springs being situated on the headwaters of the Sespe River, offers the finest of fishing throughout out the entire season simply form the fact that it is reached only by trail, consequently not being fished out as is the case where streams are accessible by autos.  It is just below the junction of Tule Creek and the Sespe River and also the Sespe gorge, which is noted for its deep, shady pools.

            “Wheelers’ is located in the Santa Barbara National Forest, and the management cooperates loyally with the forest service.  The trails that lead out in every direction are patrolled daily by rangers.  Your cooperation in the strict observance of the forest rules will be appreciated.”

            For centuries this beautiful spot had lain unappreciated except by the chance traveler, and it was the enterprise of the late Wheeler C. Blumberg that made it available to the public at large.  That was an important service and his name and work deserve more than passing notice in this publication.  Mr. Blumberg was born in Clarence, Cedar county, Iowa, November 26, 1863, a son of A. W. Blumberg, who also became a well known in Californian.  Wheeler Blumberg was a lad of ten years when his parents removed form Iowa to California, locating at Nordhoff, where he attended school from 1873 to 1877.  In the latter year he journeyed with the family to Santa Paula, where he became associated with his father in the conduct of general store.  In 1882 they returned to Nordhoff and began developing the Matilija Hot Springs in the canyon five miles north of Nordhoff and a shot distance south of Wheelers Hot Springs.  In 1888 Wheeler C. Blumberg started out for himself, locating a claim comprising one hundred and sixty acres tow and a half miles from Matilija, and thus establishing what his now known as Wheelers Hot Springs in the canyon of the same name.  He provide such accommodations as the people who came to the region desired in the way of hotels, fishing and camping paraphernalia, and wisely laid the foundation for the business which centers in this locality and which since his death has been successfully carried forward by his son-in-law, Webb W. Wilcox.

            At Yreka, California, on October 2, 1886, Mr. Blumberg was married to Miss Rose Anna Goodrich and two sons and a daughter were born to them:  Clarence, now a prominent contractor of Los Angeles; Carl, who also makes his home in that city; and Mrs. W. W. Wilcox, of Wheelers Hot Springs.  Mr. Blumberg was identified with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.  A man of progressive spirit and exemplary habits, he stood deservedly high in public esteem and his passing on the 21st of May, 1906, was deeply regretted.  Mrs. Blumberg still resides at Wheelers Hot Springs and is beloved by reason of her many fine qualities. 

            Webb W. Wilcox was born in Elizabeth, Illinois, July 12, 1881, a son of Samuel and Rosetta Wilcox, and was there reared and educated.  At the age of seventeen he was graduated from high school and for three years thereafter worked in the lead mines near Elizabeth.  On coming to California he located at Nordhoff with the expectation of engaging in ranching.  Instead, he became connected with Matilija Hot Springs but resigned his position at the end of four months and assumed the duties of assistant manager of Wheelers Hot Springs.  In 1907, after the death of Wheeler C. Blumberg, Mr. Wilcox took over the entire management of the property and since its incorporation in January, 1915, has been president and manager.  He combines an intimate knowledge of the business with the foresight, sound judgment and capacity for detail of the successful executive and during his administration Wheelers Hot Springs has gained steadily in prestige and popularity.  Under his direction needed improvements have been made in the buildings and roads in the vicinity of the resort and a paved highway now leads right to the springs.

            At Wheelers Hot Springs on the 27th of April, 1905, Mr. Wilcox was married to Miss Etta Blumberg, by whom he has a family of three children:  Warren N., Dorothy R. and Lester G.  The daughter is now the wife of Bruce McDonnell of Ventura, a son of Charles McDonnell, who settled here in the pioneer times, and they have one child, a daughter, Maureen McDonnell.

            Mr. Wilcox is a consistent member of the Presbyterian Church, and his political allegiance is given to the Republican Party.  He loyally cooperates in every movement destined to prove of benefit to his district, county and state and is esteemed for his public spirit, his business ability and integrity and his genuine personal worth.




Transcribed By:  Michele Y. Larsen on May 31, 2012.

Source: California of the South Vol. II,  by John Steven McGroarty, Pages 417-423, Clarke Publ., Chicago, Los Angeles,  Indianapolis.  1933.

© 2012 Michele Y. Larsen.