Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Photo: Boulder Hot Springs

One dark evening a few years ago a group assembled on the stairway of the unused wing at the historic Boulder Hot Springs Hotel. There were a dozen adult students, led by Patrick Marsolek of Helena, who wanted to practice their intuitive skills. None of the participants knew the history of the hot springs, which stretched back to the mid-nineteenth century.

A postcard view of Boulder Hot Springs in the 1940s.
From the collection of Kennon Baird via Helena As She Was
The property manager allowed the group access to the long-abandoned wing. After exploring the dark corridors and many rooms with flashlights, the students gathered on the stairway which led to this unused area. The idea was to share their individual impressions. While women made up most of the group, there were several men. Each of the male students claimed that they felt a seductive female presence. Although historically unsubstantiated, locals claim prostitutes once worked in a portion of this wing. Even more eerie were the impressions of at least half the other students who said they heard children’s laughter, children running in the corridors, and balls bouncing down the hallways. None of the students knew that after the destructive Helena earthquakes in 1935, Boulder Hot Springs opened this wing to St. Joseph’s Children’s Home. The children lived at the hotel for a year while the orphanage was repaired. Finally one last student remained to share her experience. She had curled up comfortably in a corner of the landing. As she stood, she commented, “I feel just like a cat and I need to stretch.” A hotel staff member heard this comment and looked incredulously at the woman. “Oh my goodness,” she exclaimed. “You were curled up in our elderly cat’s favorite napping place. She died right there last week.”

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