It’s About Time column: Glenwood Hot Springs Pool still a draw |

It’s About Time column: Glenwood Hot Springs Pool still a draw

Bill Kight

Boarding the Hot Springs Hopper van to head to the pool the other day, I noticed a fellow passenger reading a one-page flier he had pulled from a pouch behind the driver’s seat. The headline caught my eye: “Hot Springs Lodge and Pool: A Historical Perspective.”

Glenwood’s Hot Springs Pool has a definitive history. The flier proclaims: “In 1888 the world’s largest hot springs pool was born. It became world-renowned as a healing wonder set in a mountain paradise.”

By 1890 the stone bath house designed and built by Austrian Theodore von Rosenberg was finished. In the archives of the Frontier Museum is a page from the Aug. 18, 1888, edition of the Ute Chief newspaper that celebrated the soon-to-be-completed structure:

“Before the snow comes we will see this handsome structure completed and ready for use and then the dull times we are now having will be a thing of the past and prosperity smiles on every side.”

In the same article it was mentioned that nothing in Europe could rival the hot springs. The same opinion was expressed in the 1906 Denver Republican, which stated the springs will be “as famous as the great resorts of Europe.”

Glenwood Springs was founded in 1885 as a resort town, and it remains a resort town. Why have visitors been drawn and continue to be drawn to our small town? The primary reason remains the iconic Hot Springs Pool.

According to the front page of the Glenwood Post, dated Sept. 8, 1900:

“About 1886 Isaac Cooper built and gave to the town a bath house to be used by the people free. The town appointed a person to take care of it and paid him a salary. This free bath house was a great boon to the poor, both resident and non-resident, and the cures performed were great, and the fame of the springs was spread far and wide.”

The reputation of Glenwood Springs as a first-class resort grew after the railroads arrived in 1887. In those days, hot springs bathing was considered a spa, hence the name “Spa of the Rockies” was given to the Hot Springs Pool.

The water from the hot springs was considered to have healing properties, and back then, people regularly drank the water. It was believed that by doing so, health could be restored to the ailing soul.

It is even rumored that Doc Holliday came to Glenwood Springs in the spring of 1887, six months before his death, to treat his consumption (i.e. tuberculosis) with hot springs therapy.

After many facelifts, the current Hot Springs Pool provides modern amenities to an international clientele. There is the therapy pool, swimming pool, kiddie pool and the reinvented Spa of the Rockies.

Realizing that history provides an economic engine to tourists seeking authenticity, the pool has joined a consortium of other Colorado hot springs to tout the Colorado Hot Springs Loop (

History has a way of illuminating the present by putting the past into its relevant place as something still living … not in some dusty and unread history book, but as a bellwether to guide us as we make new memories.

The last paragraph of “A Historic Perspective” tells us how the pool has returned to its roots, “to celebrate our legendary name and our history of making people feel better by focusing on natural remedies, mineral-based treatments and herbal rubs that promote natural wellness and vitality.”

This is a monthly column on the enduring subject of history by Bill Kight, Glenwood Historical Society’s executive director.

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