1927 Nahl View of Napa Valley and Clearlake Region, Northern California

Napa Valley 'Shortway' to Clearlake Park. - Main View

1927 Nahl View of Napa Valley and Clearlake Region, Northern California


'Little Switzerland of America'.


Napa Valley 'Shortway' to Clearlake Park.
  1927 (undated)     14 x 18 in (35.56 x 45.72 cm)


An unrecorded c. 1927 V. Nahl Studios promotional bird's-eye view of Napa Valley and Lake County, California. Distributed by a real estate broker, it advertises the Clearlake Park development, connected to the Bay Area by a recently completed highway called the Napa Valley 'Shortway'.
A Closer Look
Oriented towards the northeast, the view includes the northern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area through Napa Valley to Lake County, focusing on the 'shortway' highway between the Bay Area and Clear Lake. The region's highways and major automobile roads are also illustrated, with towns, cities, ferry routes, mountains, rivers, and other features labeled throughout. Despite growing highway infrastructure in this era, the 'proposed new state highway' between Rumsey and Lower Lake was never built. Tracts, subdivisions, a hotel site, a golf course, and other elements of the Clearlake Park development (discussed below) are highlighted.

It is worth noting that the landscape of the area south of Clear Lake would change significantly in the following decades, most notably with the building of the Monticello Dam in the 1950s, which created Lake Berryessa (roughly halfway between Calistoga and Madison).
Clearlake Park
Clearlake Park, now called Clearlake, is a town on the southeastern shore of the eponymous lake. Much of the surrounding area was owned in the late 19th and early 20th century by the Clear Lake Company, which also built dams and operated mills. The company's control of water resources caused friction with local farmers, who in 1868 dismantled its primary mill in a 'mob action'. Still, Clear Lake Company remained an economic and political force in Lake County well into the 20th century. With automobile road infrastructure expanding and improving, the company decided to turn some of its lakefront property into a development called Clearlake Park. Dubbed the 'Little Switzerland of America' and 'Lake County's all-year playground,' the development was promoted as the perfect rustic resort escape from the city, with plentiful opportunities for fishing, hunting, hiking, golfing, and more.
The Napa Valley 'Shortway'
The Napa 'Shortway' replaced the St. Helena Toll Road, which replaced an earlier and even steeper Old Bull Trail Road between Napa and Middletown. The state of California purchased the toll road in 1925 and improved it to accommodate automobile traffic. The route was not easy, climbing hundreds of feet and weaving through the surrounding mountains, but was regarded then, as now, as an especially scenic drive. The route seen here mostly follows today's California State Route 29 (which runs along the west side of Clear Lake), with a connection between Lower Lake to Clearlake (Park) provided by State Route 53 (along a different route from that seen here).
Publication History and Census
This view was drawn and printed by V. Nahl Studios for Owens and Ball, real estate brokers based in San Francisco and Oakland. It is undated, but most likely dates from 1926 or 1927, as the auto ferry across the Carquinez Straits is labeled as 'soon to be replaced by bridge' (the Carquinez Bridge, completed and opened 1927). We are unaware of any other examples of this view in institutional collections or on the market.


Nicholas V. Nahl (fl. c. 1922 - 1940) was an illustrator and printer based briefly in Oakland and then San Francisco, operating as V. Nahl Studios in the mid-late 1920s. The firm's output was limited and appears to have exclusively consisted of pencil-drawn bird's eye views. The published works of V. Nahl Studios ended around 1930, but Nicholas V. Nahl continued to appear in San Francisco city directories as a printer and 'press feeder.' Otherwise, the details of his life and work are elusive. More by this mapmaker...


Good. Unevenly trimmed, foxing towards top, some wear along edge and fold lines.