Was Calistoga really founded by a dog?

By: Roger Coryell
An old photo of a large dog walking down a street.
San Francisco’s Emperor Norton had his dogs Bummer and Lazarus. Calistoga’s Sam Brannan had Leonitus. Archive photo.

The charming Sam Brannan and Leonitus story

In the early days of Calistoga, California, a man named Sam Brannan and his loyal Newfoundland dog, Leonitus, embarked on a journey to shape a thriving resort town. Brannan, with Leonitus’ watchful gaze and quiet camaraderie, transformed the wild land into a flourishing community. Their bond was not just a partnership but a friendship, one that resonates with every dog lover who understands the silent understanding and unwavering support that only a faithful four-legged friend can offer.

A house with a porch and chairs in front of it.
One of Sam Brannan’s original cottages is now the Brannan Cottage Inn. Photo by Brannan Cottage Inn.

Lodging with your loyal friend

Choose from pet-friendly cottages, B&B’s, and luxury resorts like Brannan Cottage InnSolage, an Auberge Resort, or even camping at Bothe-Napa Valley State Park. Your fur baby deserves a vacation, too!!

A french bulldog laying on the ground.
Happy critter at dog-friendly Cottage Grove Inn, Calstoga.

Itinerary: Three days of dog-friendly delights

Day 1 and 2: Comfort and culinary wonders

Stay at the Bear Flag Inn, taste wines at Picayune Cellars and Mercantile, and dine at  Lovina. Your dog is not just allowed but welcomed!

Two dogs sitting at a table with wine glasses.

Day 3: Outdoor Adventure and Leisure

Explore Hans Fahden Vineyards, bike down the Vine Trail, and finish with a memorable supper at Evangeline. Your dog will enjoy every bark and bite of this trip.

A statue of a dog with a cloudy sky behind it.
Calistoga bottled water delivery truck. Photo by Visit Calistoga.

Calistoga is not just a place with a rich history but a living testament to the bond between man and dog. From the enduring tale of Brannan and Leonitus to the contemporary pet-friendly accommodations and attractions, this town offers a unique and heartfelt experience for every dog lover. Like Brannan and Leonitus, may you too carve out a little piece of paradise with your best friend in Calistoga. Plan your trip!


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