Idaho Springs, Yesterday, and Today...

Idaho Springs in 1889

Idaho Springs means "Gem of the mountains… and healing waters" in some Indian dialect. In that respect, I must say the beauty of the place is hard to surpass. However, the air at this elevation is very thin. So, for people like me, who are used to living on the plains, or in the desert, or at sea level… it's hard to breathe up there. 

Idaho Springs, today
As I have mentioned before, the legends in these areas have been difficult to track down. And while I have had numerous details and facts to substantiate local stories, they have been hard to recognize with the smokescreens of modern day living. However, if it is true that nothing is realy ever lost, but merely changes into some other form, I should be able to at least find signs. Such was the case at Idaho Springs. 

George Andrew Jackson first discovered gold while there on a hunting trip, in 1859. He made camp on a sandbar, where Chicago Creek flows into Clear Creek. It was early January. He decided to pan some of the thawed gravel around his campfire, and using his drinking cup, washed out some gold nuggets. Needless to say, he returned to the place the following April, with a team of men and supplies, and the rush was on. Um… cancel that. 

I just found another variation of that story that says this incident happened where Chicago Creek runs into Vasquez Creek. But maybe that's just another name for Clear Creek. Hmm… looking for the exact spot could easily get us written up in "The Goose Chase Gazette," again.

Drinking the healing waters
Having been on too many of these escapades over the last few days, I decided to try for more of a sure shot. How about I track down the famous gazebo where so many people came to drink the "healing waters" from the Indian hot springs that flowed out from the mountain. People like the Roosevelts, Sarah Bernhardt, Walt Whitman, the Vanderbilts, and even Frank and Jesse James while they were on their way through toward other infamous pastimes. Here's the picture I had to go by.

After much searching, I actually found it. Yes, it's still there. However, it has turned into a cabana-like drink and hot dog stand. I would show you a picture of me standing by it, except that no pictures are allowed in there. It's enclosed with several indoor pools created from the healing waters. Which is at the end of a labyrinth of others that flow from deep inside the mountain. One side for men, and one for women. That's because "bathing suits are optional and not required." Temperatures were stifling in there, but I was going to locate that cabana-gazebo thing, or bust. 

Commercial shot of one of the pools
Needless to say, my hat was drooping by the time I came out, and I must leave it to your own imagination as to some of the sights I saw. I have to admit it was a bona fide connection to the past, though, as the place has been in continuous operation since its inception. There were a lot of people that day, too. And while I didn't stay long enough for drinks and hot dogs, they all seemed to be having a good time. However, I did take a sip of the healing waters.

After an experience like that, one can never be too careful.


  1. Oh, those hot springs are wonderful! Too bad you didn't take a dip! They totally relax you.

    We used to live in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

  2. I would have, if I didn't have others waiting for me, outside, while I looked around. I guess I'll have to arrange another time to go back there with a group of more like-minded people... at least I got to drink some, though!