In the words of Judge Wilbur
Johnson..........."Picture 6 Vic Wikander and his
"Victor Hugo Wikander
Victor was born in Finland
of a Finnish father and an Irish mother in June 9, 1881. He
immigrated to the United States in 1902. He was naturalized
a citizen in 1909. His early occupation was as a civil
engineer. At some point he became a snow cruiser in the
Georgetown Divide area and became acquainted with Rubicon
Springs, Rockbound Lake, Buck Island Lake, Loon Lake and
At a time before 1920 he
became acquainted with a young school teacher at Oakland
High School, Oakland, CA. They married and honeymooned at
Rubicon Springs in one of the small cabins adjacent to the
Inn and available for rent in those days. Victor's wife was
known as Alice, however the 1920 census records give her
name as Cecila. Her middle initial is given as "B" at one
point and as "A" at another. I suspect the "A" is correct,
indicating the origin of her being known as Alice.
While honeymooning they
visited Buck Island, over the hill from Rubicon to the west.
Victor worked out a 99 year lease of the smaller island at
Buck Island, I presume with the U S Dept. of the Interior.
In the 1920's Rubicon
Springs continued to be accessible by motor car and Victor
began to take in the materials needed to improve the leased
island. He carried everything over the hill to Buck Island
by back pack, a little over a mile but up quite a grade.
(NB: The last motor vehicle into Rubicon (until the Jeep)
was a Cadillac touring car operated by an enterprising
fellow from The Lake (Tahoe). On the way out the Caddy slid
off the road at one of the switchbacks and was abandoned.
This occurred around 1928-1930 and the vehicle remained,
somewhat intact, for quite a few years. From this, the
current name, "Cadillac Hill", was coined.)
As time passed, Victor
built a rowboat, first of all, and then 3 cabins. A main
cabin and 2 smaller cabins as guest houses. He flew 3
flags; The Stars and Stripes at the main cabin and the flags
of Finland and Ireland at the guest cabins.
He laid out paths cabin to
cabin and other points of interest on the island. He
gathered stones, 4 - 6 inches in diameter. and lined the
paths. Using the rowboat, he gathered sand from the far west
side of the lake and sanded the paths.
He also built a catch-all
storage shed near the main cabin and a boat house with skids
to house the rowboat over the winters. Sometime, during
later years, he stopped using the boat house. He just
pulled the boat out of the water and left it in the open.
One time, I asked, "Why?" He said that, in the boat house,
the boat dried and seeped leakage by the next season.
He spent all summer every
year at the island. His wife joined him when school was out.
He also went in regularly in winter. His wife never joined
him on the winter trek. He put a door high in the gable of
the main cabin to avoid digging snow down to the front
door. Each summer season he would provision the cabin for
the winter trek, food and fuel. One year he fell and broke
a bone in the ankle area, possibly the lower end of the
fibula. He crawled into the cabin and set the break as best
as possible and bound it with strips of cloth. He spent the
next few weeks holed up in the cabin waiting for the break
to knit. What a guy!
His island was close to
the north shore of Buck Island Lake, about 50 yards or so.
The water there was shallow and in winter it froze enough
for him to ski/snow shoe across. In the spring he could
wade . At most, the water depth was about 5 feet at one
point. Thus, he never really had to "swim" to the island.
He spent many idyllic
years at the lake until the 1950's when age began to take
its toll. He passed away in Oakland, Alameda Co. CA, on
August 7, 1958. His wife, Alice, survived another few years
until the early 1960's. End of an era! (no children)."
In the words of
Judge Wilbur Johnson......Jeeps and Buck Island
"Sometime in 1948,
I spent the summer taking at least 4 trips into the
Divide. I was shortly home from service in the Far East
with Uncle Sam and decided to spend the Spring, Summer
and part of the Fall in my favorite stomping grounds.
From all of this come great memories!
THE FIRST JEEP!!!
In 1948, I was with
Vic Wikander at Buck Island; just the 2 of us! Unusual
but true. We were enjoying a peaceful week, or so, and
an incident happened that is forever imprinted. A JEEP
came by. We heard the noise and stepped out to see what
was going on. A lone Jeep with no more than a driver
had managed to come eastward and got to the lake (Buck
Island). We watched in wonder as this "crazy guy" passed
on toward Rubicon. I assume that the he made it out OK.
(No person today, does the trip alone, I'm led to
My reaction was "there
goes the neighborhood!". Interestingly enough, Vic was
not disturbed. I thought it was an invasion into our
peaceful back county. I was prescient; 250 or more
Jeeps go through these days. The solitude is no more!
To add to the trauma,
mine, I encountered another Jeeper coming the the other
way (Westward) on the following day. I had walked
down toward the Rubicon and came upon a Jeeper
stalled in the sluice box out of the Rubicon. I
actually helped this "nut" get some traction, moving
rocks, boulders, etc. He continued on and was never seen
Victor, later that
summer, told me he had laid out out a path on the
granite to by-pass the sluice box from the West down to
Buck Island. I was crushed! I guess that by then Vic
had spent so many years in there that company, of
whatever ilk, was welcome.
4-5 years later the
Jamboree came into being. Downtown Manhattan had come
to Valhalla. A "slain warrior" to this day! (Look it up
in your Funk and Wagnalls. (Valhalla, that is!)"
More from the Judge
Johnson on Vic Wilkander and events at Buck Island
lake......in his words......
In the late 40's I
spent a week with Vic Wikander at Buck Island, just
the 2 of us.
Vic mentioned that
he was seeing non native fish and certainly nothing
planted by Fish and Game. He identified them as
sucker fish. At first glance, while in the water,
they look rather pretty. Once out, they are ugly
with a turned-down mouth that looks like a sucker.
We decided that
someone, sometime had fished Buck Island with live
bait and dumped the bucket. God only knows when!
Vic and I rowed
around the shore and came upon a spring rivulet
coming down into the west end of the lake. We
observed suckers running up the stream like salmon.
There were hundreds! Going to spawn!
We mounted the
rise and found that the stream could be diverted.
We returned to the
island and fastened about 6-7 feet of chicken wire,
that Vic, for some reason had, to two 6 foot stakes
with sharpened ends. We went back to the stream and
noted that the last 80-100 yards were rather level
and that the fish seemed to be gathering in the
slower water to lay their eggs.
We lay back for a
day or so watching, every few hours, the fish
activity and when it looked as though the migration
was less, we placed the wire screen across the
stream, a few yards from the lake proper, and drove
the stakes in so that the wire mesh created a
complete obstacle to any fish, in or out.
We then went up
the slope and with sand, gravel, dirt, etc., blocked
the flow of water over to an adjacent path, thus
stranding the hundreds of suckers in a fast reducing
We were armed with
a rake and a shovel. When the flow was virtually
stopped we started raking and shoveling the ugly
things out of the little creek bed. We piled them
far enough from the stream that they could not flop
back in. We left until the next day. Not a dead
fish in sight! They were eaten overnight by the
I cannot believe
that we eradicated the suckers, but what the
heck, the lake is now just a reservoir, as are Fox,
Rockbound and Loon. The virgin days are gone
I recently came
across this local
Georgetown-Placerville Liddicoat Family history
showing their early involvement with using Jeeps on
the road from Georgetown to Lake Tahoe via Wentworth
Springs and Rubicon Springs with wonderful pictures
of Wentworth Springs in 1946 along with detailed
pictures of their Jeep travel on the road including
historic pictures of Rubicon Springs and the bridge
before the steel bridge and after..........This
website is a must review for a look back 60 years
plus at Rubicon Springs and road to Lake Tahoe. So
the Judge and Vic Wikander missed a few of the early
local folks who put Jeeps across the road...........
6...Wentworth Springs.....30's family and friends in
group photos...in the words of Judge Wilbur
Johnson....."Vic is to the left and
Alice Wikander is the lady in the middle"..........More
names on this photo to come....
7...Wentworth Springs....in the words of Judge
persons shown in the photo of whom you
inquire are, from the left"
Wikander (vital stats in the mail)
Court Judge Wilbur Johnson,
the tall man in topee, first name Don. (the
man I mean) I do not remember their last
name. I do remember that they were not
perennial visitors to the Springs.
Wikander. You have her real name in the mail
paternal grandfather, Wilbur Marshall
Johnson (another jack of all trades0
mother, Ada Larue Johnson, nee Green.
photo dates from around 1935."
Springs US Forest Service Ranger Station....East of
Wentworth Springs on the Georgetown-Lake Tahoe Road
at the Wentworth Springs Forest Service
In the words of
Judge Wilbur Johnson on the Ranger Station at
cannot wait! It is late but I am not sleepy so
I'll spin a yarn about the Ranger Station at the
Government camp ground above Wentworth Springs.
was a rather small cabin; room for a wood stove
and a bed. It was only manned when the Ranger
from G Town went up to check on the camp ground,
etc. It was the eastern end of the Forest
Service telephone line. The phone was the old
hand crank type, magneto, with a one wire
transmission. (phantom circuit?)
About 1939, or
so, I was with Rob Jerrett when he used it to
call G Town Ranger Station for some reason.
Now that I
think of it, there was no phone at the main
building at the Springs. I do not know where the
wire was at that location. I'm sure it must
have had Bunker Hill lookout on the line; maybe
the line was further to the north at the
Springs, up on the hill to the north.
all I can say about the Ranger Station at
Wentworth Camp Ground. I do know that it was
there. I saw it!!!"
Springs Bridge Replacement.......in the words of
Judge Wilbur Johnson.............a great story
incident I cannot leave to later. I said in
Chap. 1 that the Cadillac of hill fame was
the last until the jeep. I mis-spoke!
Sometime in the early 1940's the U S Forest
Service decided that the bridge over the
Rubicon, just up-stream from the springs
should be replaced. The old bridge was
wooden and had weathered many tough winters.
was wandering around in the valley,
downstream from the springs, and came upon a
Model T flat-bed truck, loaded with a great
pile of duffel aboard. The Model T was
manned by 4 of the largest characters I had
even seen. A father and 3 sons; I believe
that their name was Farmer. They were out of
either Placerville or Auburn, I cannot
stopped at a ditch about 4-5 feet deep and
about 8 feet rim to rim. I asked, "How are
you going to get across that?" The father
unloaded the duffel and carried the bags,
boxes, etc., to the far side.
The 4 then
proceeded to PICK UP the Model T and carry
it across the obstacle.
re-loaded and continued on. I do not
remember seeing them again. I think that
they went back out and carried in the
makings of the steel girder bridge that may
exist to this day.
here is that a Model T preceded the Jeep!!
I asked if they had a
Transmission. The dad said you are too
young to know such things but yes they had
such a transmission in the truck. The
transmission, if spelled correctly, gave the
Model T a low gear similar to the Jeep of
It was not
as agile as a jeep for it was, yet, a 2
wheel drive. But, by golly, it came in and
went out of the Rubicon!"
Herding and a wandering young
boy.....Wentworth Springs Campground and to
the East....another wonderful story of the
words of Judge Wilbur Johnson............
know very well why Rob Jerrett used the
old crank phone. It was because of me
and my mother.
Earlier, in the day of the phone call, a
flock of sheep were herded through the
Springs campground, about a mile, or
less, from the Ranger Station.
off with the flock having a wonderful
time herding sheep. I did so about 2
miles east. The sheepherders were amused
at my interest and zeal. They tolerated
my joining in.
about 2 miles I broke off and started
back to The Springs. I encountered Rob
Jerrett at the Ranger Station. He took
one look at me and said (expletive
deleted) get in the truck. He then went
to the Forest Service phone and called
in a "cancel search" message. My mother,
Ada, had hit the panic button. She was
convinced that I had been kidnapped by
the sheep herders. (they were noted in
legend to carry off little boys)
Jerrett thought the incident was funny.
Ada, to the contrary chewed me out for
taking off with no advance warning. I
was quite contrite, but still think it
was a great adventure.
often wondered where they were taking
the sheep. I suspect they were headed
for the meadows upstream from Rubicon
Springs where there was plenty of new
grass for the sheep.
Another fond memory!"
Judge Wilbur Johnson Retired......1945
the words of Judge Wilbur
Johnson......"One year later, 1945, just
before I enlisted in the U.S. Army. Funk
met me just east of Miller Lake and I
took the two pack horses in by myself.
My God, what a kid won't do. If my horse
had spooked or stumbled on the steep
trail I would be bleached bones along
the trail. My dad is not in the
picture for he is loading the al forjas
bags. We had fashioned our gear to
"pack". We made thin plywood boxes
just the size to slip into the al forjas
bags. We packed the boxes full and
when ready just lifted them into the
bags. We also made a stove
out of sheet metal. About 3-4 feet
long, 16 in. wide and about 10 in. high.
A hinged door on the front. A 4 in.
stove pipe hole in the top rear. 2
sections of stove pipe fit inside the
stove for transporting. Also there
was room for a trenching shovel and an
axe. I almost forgot, there was
room for 4 angle iron legs for the
stove. The stove had 1/4-20 bolts
with wing nuts to fasten the legs.
My mother cooked some darned good meals
on that stove. Pancakes were
cooked of the surface, no pan needed."