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The Story of Loch Lomond: The Summer of Love

For decades, Loch Lomond Resort ran on a predictable routine, filling each year from Memorial Day to Labor Day, then emptying each winter, leaving boarded-up cabins and a few hearty year-round residents. 

The summer of 1967, known in San Francisco as The Summer of Love, was an eventful year for Loch Lomond. Not only did the resort have its own hippy crisis, but it also changed forever.

July 27, 1967:  The Hippies Come to Loch Lomond 

One day, out of nowhere, what used to be a large rock at an intersection of two Loch Lomond Roads became Daisy Love Rock.  Described as “a red rock with an adornment of painted daisies and the magic word, ‘Love’,” it benevolently presided over the resort. 

Daisy Love Rock. Photo Courtesy Judy Cortesi.

Judy Cortesi’s mother provided the paint for the escapade.

“We snuck over there and painted it one night,” Deanna Faenzi-Glass, one of the three perpetrators, said.  “We thought it was funny.” But some people took it as a threat. When cabin-owner Mario Spagna, up from the city, saw the flower-covered rock, he immediately feared that hippies had invaded his peaceful mountain resort and began a one-man campaign to remove the menace. First, he painted the rock red, which the girls splashed with whitewash, leaving it pink. Not satisfied, he had the rock removed, effectively solving Loch Lomond’s hippy crisis.

August 14, 1967: The Loch Lomond Resort Burns

Five years earlier, a child had set a fire in a room next to the resort’s kitchen, causing extensive damage before the fire department could arrive. Concerned at how long it took to get help, the community pulled together, bought a fire truck, and began to build a firehouse. Jim Prather designed the plans, and Bob Prather cut all the trusses with a chainsaw mill (If you visit the firehouse today, you can still feel where the chainsaw squared up the huge logs brought from nearby Salmina Meadow.) By 1967, the building had been completed, and all that remained was to install the eight-inch water line. 

Building the Firehouse. Courtesy Bob Prather.

But in the wee hours of the morning, a fire began in the kitchen. A compressor for a refrigerator ignited some cardboard boxes, turning the resort into an inferno. Harry Martin, son of the resort manager Larry, slept in the back of the store. Suddenly, he was awoken by the barking of his dog Cleo, who gave Harry just enough warning to escape.  As he rushed out of the building, the roof collapsed behind him. “If it had not been for her insistent barking, Martin would not be alive today,” the Record-Bee reported. 

Examining the remains of Loch Lomond Resort. Lake County Record-Bee, August 17, 1967.

By then the lodge was fully engulfed, and having a brand-new fire station next door wasn’t much help. “The firemen had been practicing fire drills by pulling the truck out of the firehouse and drinking beer,” Bob Prather said.  “So, when it came time for a real fire, they didn’t know what to do. They were just sitting watching the fire when I got there. They couldn’t figure out how to hook up the pumps. It was like the Keystone Cops there.”

It was not until the Kelseyville Fire department showed up that they hooked up a pump and drafted water from the swimming pool.  None of the trucks could hook up to the brand-new fire hydrant at the station; the cement work wasn’t finished, and the water lines had yet to be connected.

August 24, 1967: The End

From the Record-Bee column, “Hill Hopping Cobb Mountain.”  Written by Harry Martin, recently escaped from a burning building.

Twenty-five kids poured into six sleeping bags to watch the outdoor movie at Loch Lomond.  The chairs in front of Loch Lomond, which were etched and engraved by previous summer kids met their last day with these kids. . . Nothing remains but splinters. 

With the playing of “Crystal Ship” for the last time on Labor Day, the summer will sail away and the kids will depart, zany as ever, to return again next summer. 

September 7, 1967: The Firehouse is Dedicated

The Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Loch Lomond Fire Department. Photo courtesy Madelyn Martinelli.

From The Lake County Record-Bee:

Dedication ceremonies were held at 2 pm on Saturday at Loch Lomond for the new $12,000 firehouse, a unit of the Kelseyville-Big Valley Fire District. Dubbed, “The Ark” by residents of the mountain community, the structure was dedicated in the name of the volunteer fireman.  Fire officials from Kelseyville and Lakeport attended the ceremonies, along with a crowd of some 75 or 100 citizens of the area. . . . The event was the culmination of five years of work and struggle on the part of the residents of the ‘hill,’ plus the cooperation and financial assistance of the fire district. The ceremonies went off as scheduled, despite the loss of the major portion of the business center, destroyed in the August 14 pre-dawn fire less than a block from the firehouse.

~~~

Thus began the end for Loch Lomond Resort. They rebuilt the lodge across the street from the old one and kept things going. But the times were a’changin, which changed things for the resorts of Lake County. I-80 had opened up, creating easy access from the Bay Area to Lake Tahoe, where the resorts were newer and gambling was legal.  The single-earner home changed, and Mom went to work; she no longer had summers to spend away in the mountains. And the vacation home became something for the wealthy.  Resort after resort on the mountain closed. A few still remain running, but most have either slowly dissolved into the mountainsides, burned, or had their pools filled with dirt and were turned into long-term rentals.

But, unlike most of the other resorts, Loch Lomond never died. Even though the lodge shut down and is now a convenience store topped by a vacant restaurant, the community still thrives.  Today, you can visit the church and fire station that the Prathers and the community built. It’s still possible to eat lunch at a picnic table in Prather Plaza, where the dinner bell from Adams Springs resort still hangs.  And on a late summer evening, if you listen, you can hear the sound of accordions and laughter rising from the backyards of cabins, where three or four generations get to share the feeling of a cool summer night in the mountains. 

The “new” lodge, still standing today. Photo courtesy Madelyn Martinelli.

Even though interrupted by COVID, most summers it’s still possible to enjoy a bingo game, eat Grandma’s Italian food with two hundred other guests under a canopy of pine trees, or enter a bocce tournament.  (“I can’t believe we lost,” one team captain complained after last year’s tournament.  “Well,” his wife replied. “If you hadn’t started drinking so early, you might have done better.”)

The children who played here in the fifties and sixties have grown up, and now their grandchildren and great-grandchildren splash in the clear, blue pool and ride their minibikes up and down the narrow resort roads. Then, just as it has since 1936, Labor Day weekend comes, and Loch Lomond empties.  The parties end. People pack up and head home, leaving behind boarded-up cabins, a few year-round residents, and the Prathers, far up the slopes of the mountain.

Summers at the pool. Photo courtesy Madelyn Martinelli.

Do you want your family’s story told? The Bloom offers personalized writing services. For more information, send an email to contact@lakecountybloom.com.

Trudy Wakefield

Trudy is the owner and editor for The Bloom. The Bloom's dedicated to showcasing all the good parts of life. If it's good news, you'll probably find it here.

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