Duck hunting was a popular sport on the marshes and salt flats around Alvarado for almost 150 years. Many duck clubs leased the marshes and built club houses for overnight stays. Most of the time nothing noteworthy really happened at these clubs other than a little too much sun and too much drink. A newspaper report from September, 1902, details one event that was a little more exciting than most:
A fire is reported on the lonely marshes of Alvarado. Last year the “Spoonbill Club” lost its grounds near Alvarado to another club, and now its new clubhouse in the same locality has gone up in smoke to the accompaniment of popping shells.
Anticipating a glorious duck hunt on the first day of the season, the members shipped a “wide awake” hunter down to the clubhouse with instructions to paint the decoys and give the house a general burnishing for the reception of its owners. The wide-awake hunter worked hard at the decoys and painted them in a way that the worldliest duck would regard with favor. Then, on Sunday afternoon, he started at the house with a tar bucket to give the outside a weatherly coat. In his haste he allowed the fire to connect with the tar, and shortly there was nothing left of the house and the decoys but a heap of hot ashes. The ammunition that was stored within kept up such a lively fusillade that the amateur painter did not dare stay close enough to throw water on the flames, and members of the club now insist that the exploding shells frightened away all the birds in the neighborhood. This leaves them with blinds and ponds, but minus house, ammunition, decoys and ducks.