Zamboni Springs, is loacted about ten miles Southeast of Doyle, California. It sits at the northeastern foot of the Sierra Nevada, in Long Valley, elevation 4547 feet above sea level. It's high desert country, with sagebrush the most common plant in the valleys. The mountains to the east are sparsely treed in juniper, to the west are the pine, fir and cedar forests of the Sierra. The winters are cold, and the summers hot and dry. The wind blows a lot, and the sky is big.

Some time ago, the place was a homestead, a cattle ranch with 35 acres of meadow, watered by the springs. The meadow is still grazed in the summer and fall. There are some ruins nearby, the foundation of a barn and a place where a house burned down. Judging from the bits of metal and crockery I find occasionally, it look like the place was "settled" by people of European extraction in the mid/late 1800s. A small basalt arrowhead, and a granite metate (grinding bowl) were from the earlier inhabitants, perhaps the ancestors of the Paiute or Washoe people. My property, a bit more than an acre, includes a water right to the springs.

Zamboni Springs is an oasis, a unique place where water finds it's way to the surface, through a crack in the earth. Somehow, the rain and snow soak in somewhere, and percolate through the rocks, flowing out here. The Diamond Mountain Fault runs to the northwest, marking the last granitic toe of the Sierra as it slants under volcanic rocks to the North. It's a dynamic, living landscape, where the earth's crust is moving, turning and crunching, pushing up mountains.

The water, on it's obscure journey through the cracks, is heated by the earth. It flows from the springs at about 40 degrees C. I use the water for bathing, and to heat the pottery studio in winter. The concrete floor of the shop has pipe encased, and water siphons through a loop, warming the slab. It helps in drying clay during cold weather. In summer, the springs are used for irrigation, of a garden and apple trees. I drink it.

There are widespread areas in the North American West that have geothermal resources. I have a friend, Potter/Rancher Dick Mackey from Alturas, California, who uses warm springs to raise catfish and sturgeon. The potential is great. Here, it's used to compliment solar heat and of course, wood.

I feel lucky to have landed here twenty years ago. As a friend recently said, "It's the perfect place for a potter."

Paul Herman

Great Basin Pottery  

Phone: 530-827-2706

423-725 Scott Road
Doyle, CA 96109
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