Anthropological Studies Center logo

Sonoma State University logo

Before Warm Springs Dam

A History of the Lake Sonoma Area, Sonoma County, California


Summary| Download Chapters in PDF format

The Warm Springs Cultural Resources Study was one of the first large projects conducted under federal historic preservation laws and regulations enacted in the 1960s.Vicinity map From 1974 to 1984, before the filling of Lake Sonoma behind Warm Springs Dam, the area was intensively studied by a team of archaeologists, cultural anthropologists, architectural historians, ethnobotanists, historians, and Native American traditional scholars. Before Warm Springs Dam was the last of many reports produced by that team, synthesizing the material for a general audience.

Unfortunately, by the time the report was completed in 1985, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had insufficient funds to distribute it as widely as intended. Funds for the envisioned future publication of the volume never materialized. A few years ago, the Anthropological Studies Center requested permission from the Corps to publish the volume elsewhere. This was granted and thus began the task of recreating a volume whose text resided on obsolete “elephant disks.” Rose White scanned the text from the original provided by the Corps. The authors proofread the text for the myriad minute errors that sneak into scanned text. Maria Ribeiro formatted the report, inserted the graphics, and made the final edits. Scotty Thompson and Richard Stradford helped us find elusive photographs.

Much as we were tempted to update the volume and revise sections we now know to be inaccurate or outdated, we agreed that such an effort would put the volume’s publication back another 15 years. So except for very minor technical edits, this is the Before Warm Springs Dam: A History of the Lake Sonoma Area as it was submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1985.

The Authors


The purpose of this volume is to synthesize and analyze the area’s history, not just describe it. The authors chose to explore a number of continuing themes to present a dynamic picture of life in the Lake Sonoma Area. A benefit of this approach is that each chapter may stand alone, allowing the reader to choose those of interest without missing part of “the story.”

  • Table of Contents, preface, and acknowledgments (193 KB pdf)
  • Chapter 1. Studying the Lake Sonoma Area (1.5 MB pdf)
    gives a brief overview of the cultural studies that were conducted by the Warm Springs Cultural Resources Study and its predecessors, and summarizes the most significant contributions.
  • Chapter 2. The Environment: the Setting, Past and Present (1 MB pdf)
    describes the study area’s environment.
  • Chapter 3. Landscape and Environmental Perception (1 MB pdf)
    explores what people thought and felt about that environment.
  • Chapter 4. Use of the Land (1.7 MB pdf)
    recounts the history of human activities in the Lake Sonoma Area in relation to the area’s natural resources.
  • Chapter 5. A Hold on the Land (914 KB pdf)
    examines the ways in which successive occupants viewed their right to the land, as well as the legal and extralegal methods they used to maintain their tenure.
  • Chapter 6. Prehistoric Settlement Pattern: An Archaeological Study
    (1.4 MB pdf)
  • Chapter 7. Historic Settlement Pattern: An Interdisciplinary Study
    (2.2 MB pdf)
    • Chapters 6 and 7 discuss settlement patterns, the ways in which human beings and activities were arranged on the landscape.
  • Chapter 8. Family and Kin: the Domestic Sphere (1.4 MB pdf)
    examines the role of family and kin through time, and also includes the histories of four settler families.
  • Chapter 9. The Community (1.3 MB pdf)
  • Chapter 10. The Outside World: Travel, Trade, and Communication
    (918 KB pdf)
    • Chapters 9 and 10 put the the Lake Sonoma Area into perspective by examining its relationship with the region, the state, and the nation, through trade, recreation, travel, and a variety of other types of interactions.
  • Endnotes and Bibliography (189 KB pdf)
back to top