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Castilla Hot Springs

Castilla is three miles up from the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon. Today the warm water sulpher springs form a swampy area alongside US 6,50. In the 1890′s the springs were the site of a popular resort including a hotel, cabins, bathing, and other recreational facilities. The resort was built in 1891 but was destroyed by fire in 1942 and never rebuilt. The springs were named by early travelers along this part of the old Spanish Trail after the province of Castile in Spain.

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Castilla, Utah

CASTILLA HOT SPRINGS

Castilla Hot Springs are located about 8 mi (13 km) southeast of
Spanish Fork in Spanish Fork Canyon, along the north side of U.S.
Highway 6/89 in Utah County (Figure 3). During the early part of
the twentieth century there was a thriving hot spring resort that
attracted trainloads of visitors. Most of the following historical
account of the Castilla Hot Springs resort is taken from an article
in a Utah State Historical Society Publication, “Beehive
History,” written by Linda Thatcher (1981).

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(Present-day map of Castilla in Spanish Fork Canyon, site of the
Castilla Hot Springs resort in the early 1900s. Trainloads of
visitors used to arrive by train for a day of diving, dining,
drinking, and dancing.)

History

Spanish Fork Canyon was named for the Spanish priest-explorers
Escalante and Dominguez who discovered the springs in September
1776 as they followed the Spanish Fork River down the canyon. They
called it Rio de Aguas Calientes (“River of Hot
Waters”) because of the hot springs flowing into the river.
The name Castilla may have been suggested by the castle-like rock
formations nearby. In 1863, heavily armed Mormon troops traveling
through Spanish Fork Canyon noted the presence of “unfriendly
Indians” living around the hot springs (Jeffers, 1972). But
by 1889, the Native Americans were gone and William Fuller had
filed for a patent on the hot springs property with the U.S.
government. He built a small house that contained a wooden tub for
bathing in the mineral water. Later that year, a Mrs. Southworth
felt that her health had been improved by bathing in the spring
water, and she urged her two sons to buy the springs and
“make a resort for people who have hopeless afflictions, that
they may come and be cured.” They filled the swampy area with
gravel and built a three-story, red sandstone hotel from sandstone
quarried in a nearby canyon (Figure 4). Other structures included
indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a store, a dance pavilion,
private bathhouses, several private cottages, and a saloon. Picnic
areas, a baseball diamond, and stables were also provided.

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(Two historical photographs of the Castilla Hot Springs resort
in about 1917. Elderly ladies may have come to Castilla for their
rheumatism rather than recreation.)

During the summer months, the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad ran
excursion trains to Castilla, and it was a regular passenger stop
for many years. One of the more popular runs was the
“moonlight excursion” from the Tintic Mining District
in Juab County to Castilla. The train stopped at stations along the
way to pick up passengers for an evening of dining and dancing.
Besides providing recreation for many Utahans, the resort was the
site of several “direct-use” enterprises, including a
cigar factory and a quarry that furnished silica used as a flux by
the Columbia Steel Company in Ironton, Utah. However, the main
attraction was still the warm, sulfuric water. Bathers come from
far and wide for the relief of their rheumatism and arthritis. The
springs’ water also became popular as a cure for other
ailments such as alcoholism, chain-smoking, moral dissipation, and
the “tendency to use profane language.” In 1912, a
noted sculptor with local ties, Cyrus Dallin bought the resort, but
he had to rely on relatives to run it as he lived in Boston. The
resort enjoyed a brief renewal of popularity in the 1920s, but by
the 1930s, it had fallen into disuse. Work in a nearby rock quarry
slowed the flow to the springs and the hotel fell into disrepair.
In the 1940s, a fire destroyed most of the hotel. What remained was
eventually torn down. By the 1970s, all that was left of the old
resort was a concrete tank or cistern build over the hot sulfur
spring. Sometime in the 1980s, the spring was blown up by local
authorities because they had trouble controlling the visitors that
frequented the springs. Nowadays, there is only a small railroad
sign that says “Castilla,” and in a grassy area nearby,
the remains of the soaking tubs and bits of foundation from the
hotel.

Resource and Local Geology

The Castilla springs are located at an elevation of about 5,000
ft (1,525 m) within the Wasatch Mountains, not far from hot springs
in the Thistle and Diamond Fork (Fifth Water) areas (Blackett and
Wakefield, 2002). Klauk and Davis (1984) presented thermal and
chemical data on two springs at Castilla. Temperature in both
springs was 97EF (36EC). Cole (1983) measured temperatures of 108EF
(42EC) and fluid discharges of 21 gpm (80 liters/minute) for the
larger spring, and noted the location of the spring at an outcrop
of faulted Paleozoic quartzite. The water chemistry generally
appears to be of the Ca-Na-SO4 type. Cole (1983) reports that the
isotopic composition of the Castilla spring water lies on the local
meteoric water, indicating that not much mixing, evaporation, or
high-temperature water-rock interaction has occurred during the
evolution of the thermal fluid. Not much more is known about the
geology of this forgotten hot spring area.(*)

********Castilla Hot Springs Attracted Trainloads of Visitors********
Linda Thatcher
History Blazer, October 1995(*)

The Utah landscape is dotted with hot springs resorts that have come and gone. Although a few remain, most are merely memories to aging Utahns. One such popular resort during the 1890s and early 1900s was Castilla Hot Springs in Spanish Fork Canyon, Utah County. The name Castilla was suggested either by the castlelike rock formations nearby or because the Spanish priest-explorers Escalante and Dominguez discovered the springs in September 1776 as they followed the Spanish Fork River down the canyon. They called it Rio de Aguas Calientes (“River of Hot Waters”) because of the hot springs flowing into the river.

In 1889, more than 100 years later, William Fuller filed for a patent on the hot springs property with the U.S. government. On the land he built a small house which contained a wooden tub for bathing in the mineral water. Later, the Southworth family became interested in the property. Mrs. Southworth, the family matriarch, felt that her health had been improved by bathing in water from the springs. She urged her two sons, Sid and Walter, to buy the springs to “make a resort for people who have hopeless afflictions, that they may come and be cured.” The Southworths obtained the land from Fuller and began to improve it. They filled the swampy area with gravel and built a three-story, red sandstone hotel. Other structures included indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a store, a dance pavilion, private bathhouses, several private cottages, and a saloon. Picnic areas, a baseball diamond, and stables were also provided.

During the summer months the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad ran excursion trains to Castilla. One of the most popular runs was the “moonlight excursion” from the Tintic Mining District in Juab County to Castilla. The train stopped at stations along the way to pick up passengers for an evening of dining and dancing.

Besides providing recreation for many Utahns, the resort area was the site of several enterprises, including a cigar factory and a quarry that furnished silica used as flux by the Columbia Steel Company in Ironton, Utah. Nevertheless, the warm, sulfuric water remained the principal attraction at Castilla. Bathers came from far and near for the relief they believed they would find for such illnesses as rheumatism and arthritis. The springs’ water also became popular as a “cure” for other ailments such as alcoholism, chain-smoking, moral dissipation, and the “tendency to use profane language.”

In 1912 Sid Southworth died. Noted sculptor Cyrus Dallin, a native of Springville, helped his sister Daisy (Sid’s widow) financially with the resort. Eventually, he gained controlling interest in Castilla, but he had to rely on relatives to run it as he lived in Boston. The resort enjoyed a brief renewal of popularity in the 1920s, but by the 1930s it had fallen into disuse. Lack of funds and competition from other resorts contributed to its downfall.

In the 1940s a fire destroyed most of the hotel. What remained was eventually torn down. Today only a few ponds created by the springs mark the spot where the once-thriving resort stood.

Some awesome pictures of the Castilla Resort can be seen here (Visit Link)