The Colwell family came to the Mother Lode area of California during the gold rush and settled in the town of Lotus,
about eight miles southwest of Georgetown and two miles downstream from Coloma, on the South Fork of the American River. Augustus
Colwell was a miner, land developer, and saw mill operator. His oldest son, Ralph, built Moana Villa Resort just south of McKinney’s
on the west shore of Lake Tahoe in 1894.
Ralph Colwell showed his interest in Rubicon Springs when, in the spring of 1895, he bought
the 80 acres of Potter’s Springs from Sierra Nevada Clark along with other lots in Lake Valley (South Lake Tahoe) for $1,000 in gold
coins. Two months earlier, Clark had sold the Rubicon Springs hotel back to George Hunsucker. To enhance his position along the Rubicon
River, Ralph bought 160 acres of undeveloped land for $560 from the Central Pacific Railroad on, October 31, 1901. The land,
part of the original 1864 railroad land grant, was between Rubicon Soda Springs, and Potter’s Springs, giving him 240 acres along
the Rubicon River. The Rubicon Springs Hotel and its original 40 acres were at this time owned and operated by Daniel Abbott.
planning for the development of his property holdings along the Rubicon River, Colwell filed for water rights on the river and for
the outlet of Rock Bound Lake on July 19, 1902. In February 1909, Ralph Colwell bought Daniel Abbott’s 40 acres and the Rubicon Springs
Hotel for $10 in gold coins and an Indenture of Mortgage held by Daniel Abbott for $2000. Abbott was to be paid in gold coins, at
the rate of 6% percent per annum, payable semiannually and to be completed by September 2, 1912. Colwell now owned 280 acres in the
Ralph Colwell had numerous active business interests including the larger Moana Villa resort on the shore of Lake
Tahoe, making it unlikely that he personally managed Rubicon Springs. Most likely, Colwell hired a manager for the daily operations
during the main tourist season. In 1918, Rubicon Springs Hotel advertised in the San Francisco Chronicle that Mrs. Della Woodruff
was the new manager and that they would finish the “auto road” to Tahoe by mid July.
By the 1920s, Rubicon Springs was advertised
in the San Francisco Examiner newspaper as a part of Moana Villa Resort at Lake Tahoe and that Ralph Colwell owned both. They listed
rates for the 1923 season as $3.50 per day or $21.00 per week. At the start of the 1925 season, Rubicon Springs advertised itself
in the San Francisco Examiner as a family resort that Albert N. Colwell now managed. In March of 1926, Ralph Colwell leased the
entire property of 280 acres, both Potter and Rubicon Springs, to his son Albert N. Colwell for a term of fifteen years. The terms
of the agreement stated that for the first five years $1000 in improvements to the property were to be made each year. After five
years, the $1000 was to be paid to Ralph Colwell each year on October 1.
The untimely death of Ralph Colwell, on August 4, 1926
in a hospital in Sacramento, California seems to have ended Albert’s plans. The estate of Ralph Colwell made an agreement to convey
all real property known as Rubicon Springs (280 acres) to Charles J.Rupley. Albert Colwell also sold his rights, related to the lease
from his father, for Rubicon and Potter Springs to Charles J. Rupley for a “valuable consideration.” The Report of the Inheritance
Tax Appraisal for the estate of Ralph Colwell was filed by Ted Atwood on October 27, 1927. The land at Rubicon Springs was valued
at $17,500. The improvements were listed as a hotel building (old), a log barn (old) and five cabins or cottages altogether valued
at $2,500. The cooking range, furniture, dishes, knives, forks, spoons, cooking utensils, and bedding were valued at $250. The hotel