Hot Sulphur Springs, Colorado

Hot Sulphur Springs entry feature

William Byers (founder of the Rocky Mountain News) first came to Hot Sulphur Springs in August, 1863. He was so entranced by the springs and the area he decided to lay claim to the whole place. Only problem was, a couple other folks had already laid claim to the land he wanted. Probably the first was Charley Utter in 1859. Another was "Judge" Joseph Westcott. In 1865, Byers came back twice more: the first time to survey the area and the second time with his 10-year-old son to build a small log cabin (as basis for his future claim). In 1866, Westcott was induced to sell his 160-acre claim to Susan Boshman, a friend of Byers, for $500. Westcott then moved over to Grand Lake, using that $500 to claim another piece of land and build several log cabins. Westcott also set himself up in the fishing business there and each summer, he and his partner, John Barbee, caught and sold hundreds of pounds of trout in Georgetown and Denver.

Byers didn't return to the hot springs again until August of 1868, along with a group of "important people" that included William Bross, the former lieutenant-governer of Illinois. When they arrived at the springs, they found the area filled with an encampment of about 800 Utes. In the fall of 1868, the Government Land Office officially surveyed the whole area of Middle Park and Byers finally became owner of the 160 acres surrounding the hot springs for a price of $3,000 on October 23, 1869. What's interesting is that 2 of the 3 government surveyors involved in that survey also claimed 160-acre tracts adjacent to the springs and both eventually sold their claims to Byers. On the plat map of the area that they had filed on November 3, 1868, there was no mention of any hot springs. This story is pretty typical of how the Government Land Office and "important" local businessmen conducted business in those days.

One of the Hot Sulphur Springs churches

From this start, Byers built the original Hot Sulphur Springs Resort. And although he used his Rocky Mountain News to promote the whole venture, Middle Park was a wilderness area that was difficult to access for many years and his Resort never became the big money-maker he wanted it to be in his lifetime. Grand County was designated in 1873 and Hot Sulphur Springs served as the county seat from 1874 to 1882, when the county seat was moved to Grand Lake. That move lasted 6 years and the county seat was returned to Hot Sulphur Springs in 1888. Today, Hot Suphur Springs is still the county seat of Grand County but has never grown into anything more than a small town. The town of Hot Sulphur Springs was incorporated in 1903.

The hot mineral springs is still flowing the same healing, relaxing waters that the Utes had been coming to for hundreds of years before the European ("American") invaders had them forcibly confined to reservations in south-western Colorado and Utah in 1876. From the 1920s to the 1950s, Hot Sulphur Springs Resort was one of the busiest and most popular hot springs resorts in the Intermountain West. The spa was completely renovated in 1996 and now offers 22 pools and private baths. The spa includes 7 natural mineral springs that flow more than 200,000 gallons of hot water through those pools and private baths at controlled temperatures varying from 95° to 112°.

Thge US Post Office in Hot Sulphur Springs
Hot Sulphur Springs Post Office
Photo is courtesy of TheArmchairExplorer, CCA-by-SA 4.0 License