Mineral Springs Healthy Waters


Health spas and therapeutic mineral spring water baths for heathful purposes have been popular since the Roman Empire era. It remains popular in Europe, Asia and at American spas such as Glenwood Springs, Colorado, Hot Springs, Arkansas and Saratoga Springs, New York.



Copyright 2018 by Richard O. Aichele & Information Works Inc.


Click Here for Part 1 Mineral Springs Saratoga Spa

Click Here for Part 2 Mineral Springs Saratoga Ferndell


Mineral Springs

Healthy Waters


The health benefits of Mineral Spring Waters have long been an accepted facts worldwide. Asian archeological studies date the use of mineral spring water back to the Bronze Age. European history dates it back over 1,000 years as a potential source of healthful experiences. The benefits of the Dead Sea waters were known to Cleopatra and King Herod the Great as far back as 4 BC. Hot springs, or mineral baths, were used by the Romans throughout their empire and one example is the still famous resort of Baden-Baden in Germany which grew from the hot spring water springs originally used for baths by the Roman. In 1541, Spanish conquistidor Hernando De Soto and group of Spanish explorers found the Valley of the Vapors that had been long used by regional Native American Indian tribes for the springs' health benefits. That location is now called Hot Springs, Arkansas. In other North American locations, mineral waters and their therapeutic health benefits had also been also well known and used by Native Americans who introduced the new European settlers to the beneficial waters.

wrap text around imageJust regularly drinking some of the mineral waters for health reasons was very popular for many years. Commonly, the beneficial waters were available for drinking at mineral water fountains near the springs or less often as bottled mineral water. One example, the spa at Saratoga Springs State Park in New York once offered three distinct types of bottled mineral waters and one still water from the park's wells. The park had two bottling plants to ensure mineral water purity from the wellhead to the bottle. The famous Hall of the Springs in the park dispensed mineral water piped directly from the Geyser Spring, the Coesa Spring and the Hathorn Spring located some distance from the building. See the Saratoga Springs, New York -- The Spa and the Springs section below.

Drink halls built in the park and in Saratoga Springs NY gave visitors easy access to enjoy drinking the healthful mineral spring waters in pleasant environments.

At any of the mineral springs, the initial major attraction was the opportunity to drink the waters. The medical benefits of the different waters was promoted by the spring operators and sought after by the public. Dispensing the waters was initially done by the small glasses at the springs. In more popular areas, the springs' owners built permanent structures called Drink Halls that were often ornate inside to improve the public's perception of the spring.


Drinking the Saratoga Springs, NY Mineral Waters

Saratoga Springs Drink Hall Congress Park

Top: - 1920s Era Drink Hall and Congress Park Fountain

Below: - 1950s Era - Hall of Springs Fountain Counters in Saratoga Springs Spa State Park.

Saratoga Springs Drink Hall Congress Park


Geology Created The Mineral Waters

Balneology includes studies of the complex geological history of mineral spring waters, their compositions and various wellness treatments to improve people's health over the centuries. As an overview, Grace Maquire Swanner, M.D., a former medical Balneology consultant in Saratoga Springs, New York, wrote: "According to geologists, waters coming from beneath the surface of the earth are classified in three groups: meteoric - waters which are derived from rainfall, magmatic- waters contained in igneous rocks which were formed by crystallization of the molten mass evicted from deep within the earth, and connate - waters derived from sedimentary rocks formed by the laying down of sediments in ancient seas."

The earth's composition offers a wide variety of mineral water sources. Michigan's Mount Clemens flow from an underground pool created in the Paleozoic Era 1,400 feet deep with 34 identifiable minerals that have a high concentration of sodium, calcium and magnesium. The waters at Hot Springs, Arkansas date back approximately 4,000 years and are found between 6,000 and 8,000 feet deep. The waters reach the surface through large cracks in the earth's crust before emerging as 47 hot springs with a temperature of 143° and flow rates average 850,000 gallons per day.

The geology of the Saratoga Springs, New York region is composed of sandstone or dolomite layers called Amsterdam limestone. The underground limestone decomposed over time resulting underground cavities that filled with water and the resulting channels allowed the waters to circulate in the area. The water absorbed minerals from the underground rocks at the same time the water combined with the carbon dioxide gas.

Some parts of this New York State region have a layer of Canajoharie shale above the dolomite layers that formed a waterproof shield locking in the carbonated water. Springs or geysers occurred if the upper surface structure was broken allowing a carbonated water flow at the surface. Other areas such as in Saratoga Springs State Park have a clay layer about 50 feet thick below the surface providing a further seal between ground water and the underground mineral water rock layers.

In New York's Saratoga State Park, drilled springs averaging 1,200 feet deep produce springs each with distinctive mineral compositions that still flow at fountains. There are other mineral water springs, notably High Rock Spring, directly in the city.


Healthier Living With Mineral Waters

The mid-19th Century witnessed a growth of many European and American health spas built around underground sources of mineral spring waters. Guests enjoyed the mineral waters either by drinking it or bathing in the mineral waters heated to a comfortable temperature. Depending on a water's mineral content, physicians prescribed appropriate medical treatments using the mineral waters for a variety of ailments including arthritis, fibromyalgia, rheumatism, gout, paralysis, neuralgia, and skin diseases. As the mineral springs were discovered, baths were built some of which became architectural landmarks with elegant interior designs to encourage healthful relaxation.

By early 1950s public interest and use of the mineral springs and hydro spa therapeutic bath facilities in the U.S. gradually decreased. Among the reasons cited in the U.S. for the declining interest in mineral waters therapies was the influence of the growing pharmaceutical industry, promotion of the concept to "just take a pill for whatever hurts," reduced education of Balneology in the healthcare field, elimination of public funding for mineral water health facilities and reduced knowledge of holistic health approaches.

However, in Europe, the practice of mineral water hydrotherapy treatments has remained strong benefiting both the health of spa users some are under the direction of spa doctors and the healthcare system. The benefits are also to the economies of the towns and cities near the springs. As a result, many spas are vibrant world class destinations such as Baden-Baden in Germany, Lourdes in France or the Thermal Springs of Saturnia in Italy. Other spas are in towns and smaller cities throughout Europe.


In the early 1900s, the quality of the mineral waters available at Saratoga Springs, New York was considered equal to those of the European spas but the variety of mineral contents from different wells exceeded those of some European spas. Most of the many drilled mineral springs in what is now Saratoga Springs State Park were shut down and sealed in the 1920s. Nine of the best were made available for drinking purposes at fountains throughout the park, formerly used at the Hall of Springs or also used as bottled waters.

The fifteen chemical compositions of those Saratoga Springs' mineral well waters in a small geographical area have an interesting variety. Calcium content varies from 465 ppm (parts per million) at Polaris Spring to 1.160 ppm at Hawthorn #3 Spring. Sodium levels at Hayes Spring is 2,610 ppm and 920 ppm at the Lincoln Spring. Stromtium ranges between 4.24 ppm at Polaris Spring and 23.8 ppm at Hawthorn #3 Spring. Lithium is less than 0.05 ppm at the Orenda Spring and 12 ppm at Hayes Spring. Potassium levels among six popular drinking mineral sprimgs varies from 106 ppm to 429 ppm. Those wells are among those with significant Carbon Dioxide content. Two wells known as the State Seal Water and the Ferndell Spring Water do not have noticeable Carbon Dioxide and very low mineral levels making them very popular still waters for drinking.


As with the growing positive trends in holistic health practices, there is also a growing reawareness positive trend in the benefits of natural mineral waters. The Balneology Association of North America [BANA] actively promotes greater awareness of the benefits of therapeutic baths and bathing in natural mineral waters through research and education. One element is to increase public knowledge of the importance of various minerals to the human body and how bathing in mineral waters can help met those needs. Every source of natural mineral waters will have different compositions of various minerals.

For example, the Baneologo Association of North America identifies the health benefits in five of the minerals commonly found in varying degrees in natural mineral waters.

Calcium Hydrating with Calcium rich mineral waters allows for a consistent level of calcium in the body's fluids and tissues, which is needed for muscle contraction, blood vessel contraction and expansion, the secretion of hormones and enzymes, and communication through the nervous system. An adequate intake of calcium builds and maintains proper bone mass and helps prevent osteoporosis. .

Lithium Hydrating with Lithium rich mineral waters can help protect your brain from exposure to the toxins produced by your own body. Toxic molecules are formed naturally during the course of normal brain metabolism. Lithium supports nervous system, mood and sleep. .

Magnesium Hydrating with Magnesium rich mineral waters su pports energy production, oxidative phosphorylation, and glycolysis. Magnesium is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium also plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction and normal heart rhythm. .

Potassium Hydrating with Potassium rich mineral waters alkalizes the system by working with sodium to balance body fluids. Potassium helps regulate the heartbeat and is necessary to move nutrients and wastes through the cell walls. More of this mineral is needed when the body is under physical or mental stress. It is a natural pain reducer. .

Sulfur Hydrating with Sulfur rich mineral waters has been used medicinally since ancient times. Also known as "nature's beauty mineral", because your body needs it to manufacture collagen, which helps with skin elasticity and keeps us young looking. Sulfur is contained in every cell in the body. Approximately 0.25 percent of your total body weight is sulfur. It is most concentrated in keratin which gives you strong hair, nails and skin. Sulfur eases irritated skin conditions and helps protect the body against toxins in the environment. Inflammation can be relieved by taking a soothing bath in hot sulfur springs.



Visiting Present and Past American Mineral Water Spas


In Purling, New York -- The Bavarian Manor Country Inn

wrap text around imageThe Bavarian Manor Country Inn in Purling, New York continues the hotel's 159 year tradition of accommodations using the natural Sulphur mineral waters from the Purling Mineral Water Spring.

The discovery of that natural Sulphur water spring in the New York's Catskill Mountains town of Purling in 1859 led to the construction of a drinking fountain and a bath facility followed by the construction of the hotel known as the White Sulphur Springs Hotel. The owners of that hotel said it offered visitors to New York's Catskill Mountains the opportunity to enjoy the "medicinal advantages of the property's natural Sulphur spring." In 1900, the White Sulphur Springs Hotel and its bath spa was renamed The Columbian. That management described the health benefits of using their Purling mineral spring waters baths:

"The White Sulphur water appeared to act on the kidneys, bowels, liver and skin according to old documents. "Its use as a diuretic may be very soon apparent. But it usually requires some days before it produces a decided action on the bowels. Its operation on the liver, too, may not be manifest for some time, and where there is much torpidity of this organ, some auxiliary means are required. Its affect upon the skin is very apparent through not immediate. But the most decidedly controlling effects of the water over diseased action, and that which more than every other gives its highest and most valuable character as a remedy, is its ALTERNATIVE POWER, or that peculiar action by which is effects salutary changes or alterations in the blood, in the various secretions and upon the various tissues of the body."

Over the years, changes to improve guest's enjoyment of the mineral water included replacing the bath house with an outdoor swimming pool fed by the Purling mineral waters that operated forany years. Today the Purling Spring water is still available year round at the Bavarian Manor Country Inn both as healthful drinking water and for use as mineral bathing water in some of the hotel's overnight guest rooms.


Saratoga Springs, New York -- The Spa and the Springs

Saratoga Springs, New York had the geological good fortune to have a variety of mineral waters within a small geographical area. Most of the mineral waters had an ample combination with carbonic gas. The mineral waters were discovered in the mid 1800s and their medicinal uses led to openings of numerous bath houses, spa treatments and drinking fountains. In the late 1800s, the geological good fortune attracted commercial developers, known as the gas companies, to use the mineral water sources to extract the carbonic gas for resale. The process included wasting the mineral waters by dumping them onto the surfaces. By 1907, the gas companies overexploitation of the underground supply by drilling hundreds of wells was obvious and local citizens and the State of New York took action. The Wall Street Journal called for state takeover of the gas companies' properties because, "It looks in fact, as if individual selfishness would finally leave the medicinal springs as extinct as the buffalo."

After the takeover, the New York State sealed all of the 163 wells except for twenty to be used for health purposes. The state rebuilt a former gas company wood construction building into the first Lincoln Bath House. It quickly became known as the finest bath house and health spa in the region. It also had two large outdoor swimming pools that opened in 1916. The pools were supplied with pure spring water that was constantly circulated through purification filters and montored weekly for purity by bacteriological testing.

Lincoln Pools 1916


New construction included the state's newest treatment spa facility, the Washington Bath House, opened in 1920. The old Lincoln Bath building burned in 1929 but within three years a new modern Lincoln Bath House. was opened. At the time state documents noted, "the state owns and operates two great, modernly equipped bath houses with a capacity of five thousand treatments a day." Those bath houses were followed by construction of the Roosevelt One and the Roosevelt Two bath houses built during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Both buildings had almost identical bath and other health services. During and after World War 2, the U.S. Veterans Admijnistration used the facilities for therapeutic mineral water treatments of wounded servicemen.

One of the original Spa Park's four bath houses, the Roosevelt Two Bath House is open seven days a week for mineral water baths and massages. It is operated by the Roosevelt Baths And Spa associated with the management of the nearby Gideon Putnam Hotel. At the Roosevelt Two, hydrotherapy individual baths use natural cold mineral water with the necessary amount of hot, fresh water to obtain bath water between 97 to 100, degrees F. The baths are 40 minutes in length.

The varied health values of the different Saratoga mineral spring waters were investigated by the Simon Baruch Research Institute. According to Dr. Swanner, the spring waters were used in the baths and available of the spring fountains. The Hayes Spring water was used to treat gall bladder and liver diseases while just the vapors "will relieve sinus congestion." Hathorn #3 Spring "was noted for its cathartic properties. The Coesa Spring water is a saline alkaline water and the balance "gives Coesa a laxative as well as an effective antacid quality." The Orenda Spring is one of the most noteworthy due to the impressive 30 foot high bank of tufa or travertine created by the water flow. With the Orenda Spring's high potassium iodine content, "scientists at the Simon Baruch Research Institute believe…it is possible to inhale the iodine required for the human body" from the Orenda Spring's fumes. And the institute's studies related to heart diseases studies "established the fact that the carbon dioxide gas in the mineral water, absorbed through the skin, has a cardiotonic effect on the circulatory system very comparable to that of digitalis."

Saratoga Springs Washinton Bath House Saratoga Springs Lincoln Bath House

Left: The Washington Bath House. Right: The Lincoln Bath House.

The ceremony in which the cornerstone of the Hall of Springs was laid July 12, 1933, marked the beginning of the New Spa's development. Mineral waters from the Geyser, Hathorn, and Coesa springs were piped into the Hall of Springs for patrons to drink while they enjoyed live orchestral music. The Hall of Springs included a concert hall, a promenade, writing rooms, lounges, and a restaurant, was the centerpiece of the Spa Park complex. Exterior decorative statues show a female representing Earth and a male statue representing Water. Today the Hall of Springs serves as a banquet hall and no longer serves Spa Park mineral waters.

Saratoga Springs Simon Baruch Research Laboratory

Built as the Simon Baruch Research Laboratory for mineral water therapy studies

it is used today as the Saratoga Spa State Park's administration building.

wrap text around imageA centerpiece of the original Spas' goal to develop mineral water therapies and benfits to people of all economic levels was the Simon Baruch Research Institute building. Today it is the state park's administration building. The cornerstone of the Simon Baruch Research Laboratory was laid September 14, 1934. Simon Baruch was an American pioneer in the fields of Balneology, mineral water therapeutic medical treatments and public health issues. He was active in the early days (1910 era) of Saratoga Spa to establish it as "the ideal place to study the nature and course of chronic diseases, a subject which the medical profession had neglected in favor of studying and concontrating on the more demanding acute diseases of the time," according to Grace Maguire Swanner, M.D. With the completion of the laboratory building, the opening ceremony was called "Realization of the Dream of 1910."

The Spa Park complete with mineral springs, four bath houses, laboratory, hotel, theatre and other features that had always been the responsibility of the state. It was first threatened in the 1950s when a New York State commission known as the "Little Hoover Commission…recommended that the Spa be abolished." Swanner's book Saratoga Queen of Spas also notes, "Legislature cut a large slice of the budget appropriations for the Spa." It was the first of a long series of reductions in operating funds that contributed to reduced services to Spa clients and the resulting steady decline of Spa clients.

The spa park as a state park is active and popular. Due to the high quality of the original architects and buildiers work and the continual efforts of park managers and staffs, the approximately 90 year old buildings have survived surprisingly well. However, greater restoration will depend on productive uses. It is the hope of many that the Dream of 1910 may be revitalized.


Excelsior Springs, Missouri -- Spas and the Elms Hotel

The city's growth was enhanced by the flow of bubbling water from the Opal Spring. That water was used by a local farmer in 1880 to treat his daughter who had been diagnosed with a form of incurable tuberculosis. She was given "the Opal Spring water to drink and bathe in, and after several weeks, she steadily improved and was eventually completely cured," according to the history of the Elms Hotel & Spa in Excelsior Springs, Missouri.

wrap text around imageThe city became a health resort because of the mineral spring waters. In the late 1930s, a major part of the area's therapeutic baths was the 100,000 gallon Sulpho-Saline mineral water pool in The Hall of Waters. The entire building constructed as a WPA project included all phases of healthful uses of mineral spring waters. One major and popular unique feature was the 40 foot long mineral water drink bar.

The original Elms Hotel, built in 1888, went through various economic cycles and incarnations. It is still a major hotel destination. The latest hotel renovations in 2011 included a new 25,000 square foot spa facility with steam room, sauna, gym, lap pool and "The Grotto - a modern twist on a Roman bath."


Mount Clemens, Michigan -- Michigan's Bath City History

The geology of the Mount Clemens, Michigan region provided the underground resources for a viable mineral bath and spa industry starting in 1873. Growth was good as the popularity and knowledge of the health benefits of Mount Clemens mineral water for bathing and drinking became known. Those mineral waters are the product of over 600 million years of geologic evolution. During the Paleozoic Era, a shallow sea formed in the area that is now the Great Lakes region. The sea occupied a large area, known as the Michigan Basin, which collected sediment from the sea and surrounding land. The resulting brine containing 34 minerals now 1,400 feet below the surface was used for the city's baths. The mineral water has "a high concentration of sodium, calcium and magnesium… The same minerals our skin and body needs daily, to maintain a healthy balance," according to www.streetdirectory.com.

"The first bathhouse was built in 1873… remained until 1883 when the building burned, was rebuilt in 1884 and accommodated larger crowds. Over the years, noted visitors such as film actors Clark Gable and Mae West, athletes Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey, news magnate William Randolph Hearst, and the Vanderbilt family vacationed in the city for the bath industry," according to www.downtownmountclemens. At the city's high point, thousands of people used the 11 bathhouses and several hotels. The last bath facility closed in 1974 ending Mount Clemens role as Michigan's Bath City.


Hot Springs, Arkansas -- The Hot Springs

The city and the national park offer various mineral water experiences. Beginning in 1830, bathhouses provided easy access to the waters. Today along the main street, bathhouse row consisting of eight buildings of distinctive styles and varied features.

Geological formations in Arkansas and the waters flowing from them created the baths and spas of Hot Springs, Arkansas. According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture,, "The complex geological forces, the hot springs flow from the Zigzag Mountains, a small range within the Ouachita Mountain system. Falling rain first percolates through the ground cover, forming carbonic acid as it reacts with carbon dioxide in the soil. Continuing downward through broken chert and novaculite, the acidic water dissolves calcium carbonate, iron oxides, and other minerals. As the water sinks even deeper, its temperature rises, probably because of elemental radioactive decay and gravitational compression deep within the earth. Geologists believe that, at the end of a journey lasting approximately 4,000 years, the water converges between 6,000 and 8,000 feet below the ground just northwest of downtown Hot Springs (Garland County). Here, several large cracks in the earth's crust provide the water with a quick escape route, and it finally emerges as hot springs on the west side of Hot Springs Mountain."

Hot Springs, Arkansas has remained an actively popular destination for many people especially due to the preservation and development at the Hot Springs National Park. According to park information, in 1832 the Federal Government set aside four sections of land for the preservation of the natural thermal mineral waters and their recharge area. "The water coming from the 47 protected hot springs located along the lower slopes of Hot Springs Mountain emerges from the ground at an average temperature of 143° and flow rates average 850,000 gallons per day." In 1921, a portion of this area was established as the Hot Springs National Park and the development at the Park and preservation of the architecturally significant Bathhouse Row has made the area a popular destination. The water coming from the 47 protected hot springs located along the lower slopes of Hot Springs Mountain emerges from the ground at an average temperature of 143° and flow rates average 850,000 gallons per day. Within the Park, the U.S. Geological Services chemical analysis of a spring water location concluded samples contained, in Milligrams per Liter: Silica (SiO2) 53.0 Bicarbonate (HCO3) 130.0, Calcium (Ca) 47.0 Sulfate (SO4) 7.8, Magnesium (Mg) 4.9 Chloride (CI) 2.2, Sodium (Na), 4.0 Fluoride (F) .26, Potassium (K) 1.4, Oxygen (O2) 4.5, and Free carbon dioxide (CO2) 9.7. Radioactivity through radon gas emanation is 43.3 pico curies per liter.


Desert Hot Springs, California -- The Hot Springs

The mineral springs of Desert Hot Springs as a spa destination are fairly recent in the 1950s... It originated when homesteader Cabot Yerxa on the advice of local Cahuilla Indians dug two wells. The first produced clear hot mineral water. The other was clear cold water. Two geological water sources supply the baths and spas. , an ancient deep cold water table and a thermal lake. The minerals include Sulphur, sodium chloride, bicarbonate and silica which are used for arthritis and joint pains. The city noted the hot water is "low in Sulphur and rich in lithium."

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