BY CINDY A. JONES
Have you ever driven north on Highway 89 toward Willard or Brigham City on a cold day? Have you noticed steam rising from the ground and wondered what it was? You might be surprised to learn it is the former site of a popular hot springs resort known as Utah Hot Springs.
The natural hot springs just southwest of Pleasant View were noted by explorers like John C. Fremont as early as 1843. Artifacts from various indigenous groups found in the area suggest the waters served as a gathering and healing place for humans dating as far back as the Paleo-Indians, who resided in the Pleasant View area from about 10,000 to 7600 B.C.
In 1887, veterinarian Rason H. Slater was traveling by train and noticed steam coming from the ground just west of Pleasant View, around the area now known as Rocky Point. He got off the train to examine the landscape and found many pools of very hot water. Curious, he took some samples.
Slater ran tests on the water, even treating some of his injured horses with his samples. Upon finding positive results on his animals, he wasted no time purchasing the springs and the land around them from the Utah Territory. He went to work immediately building a series of circular tanks with rock walls to collect the water. The water was piped underground from the rock cisterns into an indoor men’s pool, another, shallower women’s pool, and a large outdoor pool for groups, with a slide running into it.
Deeming his new attraction “The Great Cure of the West,” Slater erected a two-story, forty-room hotel to accommodate visitors who wanted to spend multiple days at the springs, room. His business venture was a raging success; people from Northern Utah and beyond came to enjoy the healing waters.
Slater sold the springs in 1889, and the property was renamed “Utah Hot Springs.” In 1890, owner Will Swan and his associates constructed a railroad to Ogden city limits and created a horse racing track on the mineral flats just west of the springs. A combination of both railroad and private owners ran the resort into the 20th century, improving and modernizing the resort with new renovations.
In 1889, a “dummy line” of the Ogden and Northwestern Railroad was built, running north from Washington Boulevard, west through Pleasant View, and directly to the hot springs. Soon, a railway ticket office opened up near the resort, extending the line into Cache Valley and Idaho and bringing a wealth of new guests from surrounding areas and other states to the resort.
So many stories abound about the resort through the years. Utah Hot Springs was the site an armed robbery in 1913, a makeshift airport and an aerial circus in 1919, and several boxing matches in the 1920s.
The downfall of the resort began when a fire destroyed the buildings in 1927. The resort was rebuilt and continued to be a popular swimming destination for families across the Wasatch Front and beyond. As the years passed, attractions like Crystal Hot Springs in Honeyville and Lagoon Resort claimed potential guests, and the popularity of the resort began to fade.
In 1970, an explosives company purchased the land from the struggling resort and removed the structures that remained from the springs’resort days. Today, the Allen Plant Company utilizes the warm, mineral-rich waters to both supply water to their plants and heat their greenhouses.
Among the greenhouses, only the rock cisterns hiding in the landscape whisper of the rich history of the site, which so many of us have sped by without knowing the bounty of history that exists there.