Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wassweiler Hot Springs

Montana has a number of hot springs that gained popularity for recreational and therapeutic use during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Ferdinand and Caroline Wassweiler operated one of the first near Ten Mile Creek just west of Helena. Their first hotel and bathhouse opened in 1865. The soothing mineral water offered local miners a relaxing day off from the dusty diggings in Last Chance Gulch.

Montana Historical Society Photograph Archives, 951-609
In 1869, the Wassweilers gained title to the land and two hot water springs. But short of funds in 1874, they sold their hotel and water rights to Colonel Charles Broadwater. Broadwater then ran the Wassweilers’ hotel until 1889 when his grand Broadwater Hotel and Natatorium opened on the property a short distance away. All traces of his first hotel have since vanished, but Wassweiler kept eighty acres and built a second hotel on that same site in 1883. The little complex survives out on U.S. Highway 12 west of town. The hotel features seven exterior doors accessing the separate guest rooms. A stone building a few steps behind served as the bathhouse. Wooden tubs outfitted each of its four individual compartments. Local legend has it that when the famed Broadwater Hotel opened, the Wassweilers lost business. So Wassweiler converted his bathhouse to cribs and imported ladies to entertain miners. The Wassweilers’ hotel and bathhouse, in its second life, operated until 1904. These are the only hot springs hotel structures left in the Helena area.

From Montana Moments: History on the Go

1 comment:

  1. Wish I had lived during those days. That place was magnificent and I was so sad to see it stripped of its elegance over the years.