The Hot Springs in Idaho Springs is largely a story of mountain buildings and of geologic processes that created the hot springs and one of the greatest mineral zones in the world. A United States Geological Survey Report published in 1908 explains that the ores of this area were deposited from waters and gasses emanating from igneous magma deep within the mountain core.
Healing Waters of the Great Spirit
Long before the white man took his first steps along Soda Creek, the Ute and Arapahoe Indians considered the Hot Springs sacred. They had probably explained them in magical terms as a place that was primarily for gods and spirits. The healing waters of the great spirit were a special place that they had come to for many generations to worship and to heal the sick and wounded. Soda Creek, that runs in front of the resort, was the dividing line between the Ute and Arapahoe Indian nations. The hot springs were considered neutral grounds. In 1859 when the white man came to the Rockies the life of the Indians changed in many ways including use of the Hot Springs.
Hot Springs Discovery Recorded
In 1859, George A. Jackson made the first discovery of placer gold in the Rocky Mountains in what is now called Chicago Creek, located a short distance from Indian Hot Springs. In his diary he made the first written account of the hot springs in January, a few days before finding gold.
Four years later in 1863, Dr. E. M. Cummings invested in some mining property that frustrated two miners a year earlier because they had struck hot water and nothing else. Dr. Cummings built a log and wood frame house near the “hot water mine’ and began charging the public for health baths. In 1866, Cumings sold the property to Harrison Montague, who tore down the wood structure and built a stone bath house calling it the “Ocean Bath House”. He also built the gazebo that is still standing in the present swimming pool area. In 1869 he built the center section of the Indian Hot Springs and advertised it as the “Saratoga of the Rocky Mountains”
Over many years, hundreds of thousands of people have used the hot mineral baths. Records indicate that Frank and Jesse James, William Bonney (Billy the Kid), Sara Bernhardt, Walt Whitman, H. A. W. & Baby Doe Tabor, The Vanderbilts and Roosevelts are among the many visitors. In recent years famous entertainers and personalities have been to the resort, including Clint Eastwood, John Denver, John McEuen, Leon Russell, Bo Diddly and more