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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Scenic Hot Springs 100+ Years Ago


Source:  The Seattle Sunday Times, August 27th, 1905, pg 14, "Scenic Hot Springs Hotel"

Note:  The author of this piece in the Sunday Seattle Times seems to take a liberal amount of artistic license with his article. When reading this writer's descriptions, keep in mind that no highways or roads yet served the area (only the railroad) and that there weren't, as yet, any clearcuts or power transmission lines cutting a swathe across the flanks of these thickly-forested mountains.  Mr. Prosser, the innkeeper and owner of the Scenic Hot Springs Hotel at the time, ran these full-page articles several times and certainly paid for many an ad in the daily papers.  Advertisement or article, the piece gives a fascinating look into the Scenic Hot Springs of the past, and offers some tantalizing clues and several interesting inconsistencies to whet the appetites of Scenic lovers.  Rick


"In order to reach the springs it is necessary to follow a beautiful shady path that winds in and out of gigantic pines and firs, whose branches are thick enough to preclude the possibility of the sun ever penetrating them.  The path itself is adorned with a carpet of pine needles as thick and soft any Wilton ever made, and the aroma from those pines makes all lung trouble look sick and peevish.

This path winds along the side of a twisting, turning, boiling, scolding stream, as cold as Greenland’s mountains, and the song it sings as it tumbles over its rocky bed is the sweetest lullaby the world has heard since old Mother Eve first crooned her first boy babe to sleep.

In due time the path makes an abrupt turn and apparently ends at Surprise Falls.  They are rightly named.  Here a great body of water is found that falls 200 feet down over a sheer precipice.  It makes many a queer turn and twist in its descent and the spray that flies from the rocks below makes it a safe proposition to view the falls from a distance of about fifty feet.

A number of rustic benches, carved with countless names, make this spot an excellent resting place, and so far as that is concerned, there are cozy nooks and corners all the way along this natural boulevard, clear from the hotel to the falls, and in fact on up the mountain to the springs.

From the falls to the springs there is a climb of about 2,000 feet, and any one who makes that rough and rugged ascent will not complain of a lack of appetite.  Part of this climb is made possible through the assistance of a rope cable, the path being almost straight up and down.  It takes a bit of determination, coupled with no end of tenacity and a bucket full of nerve to make this climb, but it is worthwhile for several reasons.

In the first place, the view that is obtainable from the top of the mountain is unsurpassed anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.  In the second place, that climb puts one in prime condition for the big lunch down below, and the dandy hot bath and rub down that will follow later in the afternoon. And in the third place, one encounters away up there on the top of that bald, snow-covered old peak, a wheelbarrow – of all things imaginable.

Some enterprising workingman packed that barrow away up there when Prosser was piping the hot sulphur water down to his hotel, and it seems so out of place – a wheelbarrow on top of a mountain that nearly everybody who had made the climb has carved his name or initials upon it.  Really, you can’t imagine the funny thoughts that come to you as you stand away up there viewing that old dilapidated wheelbarrow.  It is such an unexpected evidence of civilization away deep in the high wild land that it fairly takes your breath away, and is just what you need to bring you safely back to earth, with a realization that, after all, it’s a pretty hard thing to get away from the humdrum existence of every-day life.

But there is one good thing about that mountain climb.  You have an appetite that will sell for $150 on an open market anywhere.  In the second place, it makes you tired and sore, although all that vanishes by the time big snappy Gus has gotten through with you in the baths.  It’s worth while, all right, and the second time you go there the first thing you will do is to climb that mountain.

The second morning we crossed the stream, which is a turbulent branch of the noisy Skykomish, and wandered around through what will some day by the most beautiful park west of Yellowstone.  It is wild now, and in that, it cannot help but appeal to all that is aesthetic in the heart of you. Great titanic trees twisted to splinters by some wild wind of past decades lie ever across your path.  Mammoth ferns and fungi meet your gaze on every hand, while the flora of that particular spot has the hues of a rainbow, for there are flowers of every shade and color growing around you everywhere.

It was on this walk that the iron spring was encountered.  The ground around the spring for a good many feet looks like a rusty old iron heap.  The water itself tastes like iron and it has the faculty of building up your system that cannot help but be noticed within twenty-four hours after you have partaken of the sparkling beverage.

And the third morning we went fishing.  Trout up in that country are born faster than you can catch them, but aside from the fact the walk down the river from the railroad bridge clear to where the stream joins the Skykomish is beyond question the wildest and most picturesque to be found anywhere in the entire state.  That is a river as crooked as the operations of Wall Street, and it isn’t the least ashamed of itself, either.  You can’t walk fifty feet down the stream without encountering a gigantic log that has accommodatingly fallen across the water, thus providing a natural-born foot bridge over which a fisherman can pass dry land."

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