By Bella Butler EBS EDITORIAL ASSISTANT
CORWIN SPRINGS – Positioned on the fringe of Paradise Valley and just north of the Roosevelt Arch at the entrance to Yellowstone National Park, a new hot springs brings to life a historic tale of the West.
On March 8, Yellowstone Hot Springs opened their doors to residents and visitors of the Greater Yellowstone area after nearly a year of construction. Patrons of the hot springs experience fresh new pools and modern infrastructure, but the facility is far from pioneer in its conquest.
In 1899, Julius LaDuke, a French-Canadian immigrant, took hold of a mining claim along the Yellowstone River. To his surprise, his newly-staked land was inhabited by a natural hot spring. LaDuke capitalized on the discovery by building tubs on the banks of the river where the springs flowed in. LaDuke Hot Springs, as the actual hot spring is still named today, provided a relaxing environment for the old Aldridge and Electric mining communities.
Ten years later, Dr. Frank Corwin of Livingston opened the Corwin Springs Hotel, an 86-room inn and spa. Corwin, a physician at the time, built a one-and-a-half-mile wooden pipeline that drew water from the LaDuke Hot Springs to his pool. A bridge that crossed the Yellowstone allowed for tourists traveling on the Northern Pacific Railway to visit the springs.
In 1916, the hotel and its brief but memorable legacy was swallowed by fire. The land was purchased in 1960 and reopened as a dude ranch, but the property was acquired in the ’80s by the current owner, Church Universal Triumphant.
The church bought the mineral rights with the property but didn’t intend to open a hot springs until more recently. “We wanted to continue offering the hot water experience to the area,” YHS General Manager John Carp said of the decision to open a facility for the public.
The staff at YHS believe they offer the same relaxing opportunity now as past operations aimed to do for the last 100-plus years. When soaking at the springs, red residue is visible around the pool walls, a footprint left behind by iron, one of the 12 rich minerals found in the water.
While the staff makes no claims of confirmed health benefits, they instill confidence that their visitors will depart feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. During the conception of YHS, the founders sent a sample to the team of Masaru Emoto, a Japanese author who performed photographic research on frozen water crystals.
Emoto made claims that water crystals that came from samples that were exposed to music or were surrounded by positive thinking were the most symmetrical and beautiful. The image of the YHS water nearly mirrored that of water that had been prayed over by monks.
For those of a less spiritual mind, Carp makes the assertion that generally, a good soak can have soothing effects on stress.
Every seven hours, YHS’s 70,000-gallon pool circulates a combination of fresh well water warmed by the piping hot spring water pulled from a modernized version of Corwin’s pipeline. The main pool ranges between a relaxing 102 and 103 degrees, an ideal setting to sit back and admire the two stunning mountain ranges that sandwich the valley. Perched above the main pool are hot and cold pools that are about 106 and 70 degrees respectively. The various pools allow guests to alternate between temperatures, a common hydrotherapy treatment that supports healthy circulation.
In addition to new features like a propane fire pit, vestiges of the late western enterprises decorate the YHS grounds. Time-honored brick fireplaces from the dude ranch stand proudly in vintage fashion along the fence line, and wildlife roam freely within eye sight of the hot springs, just as their ancestors did. “We’re continuing on from what those very early hot springs were,” Carp said.
Next door to YHS, another Church Universal Triumphant business, Yellowstone Destinations, offers camping and lodging options so that visitors may enjoy a revived version of the experience that began on the cusp of the 20th century.