Even though the state relinquished Upvalley State Parks in 2012, visitors can still hike Bothe’s scenic trails and see the 176-year-old Bale Grist Mill in action.
That’s largely thanks to the Napa County Regional Park and Open Spaces District and the Napa Valley State Parks Association, which took over the parks after they were threatened with closure a decade ago.
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Last Friday in the Shade of the Mill, NVSPA hosted a celebration to thank five former board members who served during this pivotal time and continued to operate Bothe-Napa Valley State Park and Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park despite wildfires and a pandemic — Michael Fradelizio, Bob Frescura, Pete McGee, Ken Stanton and Chip Bouril.
“This plant wouldn’t be (running) today without these five guys,” said NVSPA Board Chair Cathie Bennett Warner.
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Fradelizio remembers meeting the late ranger Sandy Jones in 2003 when she wanted to organize a fundraiser. Fradelizio, then head of the Silverado Brewing Company, agreed to host the first harvest dinner, which has become an annual tradition.
Fradelizio said he was drawn to Bale Grist Mill “for selfish reasons” because he believes in the nutritional value of freshly ground cereals.
“When you buy a bag of flour, you will see an expiration date, which may mean something and may not, but you don’t really know the milling date, which is more important,” he said. declared.
Frescura is a dedicated volunteer who enjoyed getting his hands dirty, maintaining the trails, orchards and Native American plant garden in Bothe.
“Bob is the guy you would see eating weed on a Tuesday morning,” board member Kathy Carrick said. “He was like another part of the staff. … He was still there.
McGee is a longtime ranch manager at Livermore Ranch, which borders Robert Louis Stevenson State Park. He facilitated donations for trail and sign improvements and worked on Old Mills Days and Harvest Dinner events. He and his team helped fell trees and maintained trails at RLS.
Colleagues say Stanton and Bouril know Bothe’s trails better than anyone.
Renowned outdoorsman and author of “Great Day Hikes in and Around Napa Valley,” Stanton joined the board in the mid-1990s. He has led hikes on Mount St. Helena, including up to the cabin where author Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife, Fanny, spent their honeymoon.
Stanton has participated in trail work, volunteered at many park events, and documented and maintained the historic Bothe Cemetery.
Bouril served on the board from 1984 until his recent retirement. A dedicated volunteer at park events, he was instrumental in managing the transfer of Bothe and the Bale Grist Mill from California to NVSPA and the Park and Open Space District.
A naturalist and soil conservationist, Bouril was also the “conscience” of the council, Warner said.
“Everything had to be done properly and to the letter of the law,” she said. “He reminds us all that we need these standards to make this organization work.”
Photos: Napa Valley Bale Grist Mill Activities
The overshot channel and waterwheel at the Bale Grist Mill in Napa Valley
A diagram of the mechanisms of the Bale Grist Mill
The 36 foot overshot wheel of the Bale Grist Mill
Millwright Rob Grassi leads a lesson for volunteer millers at Bale Grist Mill
Photo by David Fulton
Millers at the Bale Grist Mill in Napa Valley
The crown wheel and cogwheel of the Napa Valley Bale Grist Grist Mill
Display of millstones at Grist Mill Ball in Napa Valley
Chiles Mill bedstone was once worth a fortune
Bale Grist mill.jpg
Hands busy decorating gingerbread men at Bale Grist Mill
The Christmas season ends at the ball mill
Dressed for a Pioneer Christmas
Dress up a Gingerbread Man in Pioneer Christmas at the Ball Mill