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Geyserville's link to the past
Harry Bosworth has seen it all; recognizes change is afoot

Geyservilles history has been lived by Harry Bosworth, the owner of the general merchandise store that sells Western wear, hardware, grains and horse tack.

We still do those things, he said of the mens work clothes and boots he sells to locals, along with the animal feed and farmers supplies. But, we dont do it in the same quantities.

These days, hes as likely to be selling a cowboy hat to a French tourist or a book to a Bay Area visitor.

I can see this place getting more touristy as time goes on, he said.

One sign of the times is the recent departure of Lampson Tractor and Equipment from the center of town to a new location six miles to the north. While it isnt certain what will replace Lampsons, Bosworth said it will probably get filled more along the lines of tourism.

Bosworth serves as a kind of unofficial mayor of the unincorporated town, and a link to a time when prunes and pears were the main crops around Geyserville, not wine grapes. He also used to cater to the sheep ranchers who are now gone.

Bosworth owns the water company, which serves about 1,000 people, along with the town cemetery, which numbers in the hundreds of graves. He is on the Geyserville fire board, is treasurer of the Kiwanis Club and is secretary of the Oddfellows Lodge.

The building his store occupies was purchased by his grandfather in the early 1900s. It once housed a buggy shop, a tinsmith and an undertakers parlor.

The wooden floors are original and the place has a familiar smell of vintage leather that goes well with the Colt revolvers and Winchester rifles mounted on one wall.

Saddles and a collection of wooden fishing poles also stoke the conversation.

Geyserville has had several incarnations, including the late 1800s when it was a jumping-off point for visitors to The Geysers geothermal field and its fumaroles.

Until the early 1970s, Highway 101 ran through the center of town, assuring a steady stream of cars, lumber and gravel trucks.

At one point, said Bosworth, there were nine service stations and places that pumped gasoline.

But Geyserville fell into decline in the years after the highway bypass was built.

Bosworth said Geyserville was desperate for growth at one point and would have taken almost anything for some renewal.

River Rock Casino, just a few miles down the road, has brought more traffic through town since it opened in 2002.

But most of the casinos customers dont linger in Geyserville.

For a while, some gamblers did stop in for a drink, but that was before River Rock got its liquor license last year.

Bosworth said that occasionally, someone will come in to his store and ask for directions to the casino before whirling around to leave.

Most of the time they open the door and say wheres the casino? Its like theyre in a big sweat to hurry up and lose money, he said.

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