[Guest Post by Kaitlyn Murray, Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum staff member]
Amongst the captivating mountains that reside north of the Snoqualmie Pass there are shallow pools of hot water even on the coldest days. These natural hot springs have been around since time immemorial. The warm pools may have been enjoyed throughout time by people passing through the dense forest, but one man thought of a way to share this hidden gem so that more people could experience the awe of this natural wonder.
William Goldmeyer first settled in Washington in 1868 in the Sand Point neighborhood of Seattle. He had ventured there by foot while hiking from northern California. William made a living as a farmer and a logger around Lake Washington and Lake Sammamish.
In 1874, he married Rebecca J. Spray, and she moved from Sammamish to Seattle. They started their family in 1876 with the birth of their first daughter. They raised their family on their Sand Point Farm. The family decided to move to the Snoqualmie Valley in the 1890’s. Shortly after their arrival in Fall City, Rebecca passed away in 1901. William soon married Bertha King Stephenson.
As a man known not to shy away from a long hike, it was no surprise he enjoyed hiking in the Snoqualmie Valley. During a long hike, William discovered the hot springs tucked away in the vast wilderness of the Cascade Mountain Range. He was struck with the idea of using the soothing and restorative hot springs to make an irresistible resort for people needing to rest and recharge.
William built the Crystal Hot Springs Resort in the early 1900’s. The resort had a main lodge and cabins for visitors. Visitors could access the natural hot spring pools right outside their cabin doors. William and his family lived on-site while they managed and maintained the resort. He ran the resort alongside his wife Bertha, who made major contributions to the daily operation of the resort.
Snoqualmie Valley residents greatly enjoyed the relaxing escape. Loggers and other manual laborers in the area appreciated the treat of hot water to ease their aching muscles. Women hiked to the resort in long dresses for the heated water that was said to soothe skin. The resort was a big hit in the Valley for all residents.
Snoqualmie Valley residents did not have hot running water in the early 1900s. Warm baths were taken by heating water on wood-burning stoves and pouring water into the bathtub. With the inconvenience of bathing in warm water, baths were often only taken weekly. The hot springs were exciting to people living in this time period, who did not have easy access to the warm baths of today’s age.
The hot springs can provide hot water all year round, with water temperatures reaching up to 125 degrees Fahrenheit. This is due to the natural process the water undertakes. Cold water on the ground surface seeps through the ground and gains heat from exposure to the higher interior ground temperatures. The hot water is less dense than the cold water, so it rises to the surface, creating heated pools.
Many people appreciate not only the naturally heated temperature of the water, but the mineral composition of the water that has been said to have healing properties. Geothermal water carries a variety of minerals, including chloride, sodium, potassium, calcium, sulfur, and silica.
William’s health began to decline as he neared 80 years of age. He sold the resort in the early 1920s, shortly before his passing in 1924. The property was later bought by Bill Morrow in 1928. Morrow was eager to expand on Goldmeyer’s vision by maintaining the original lodge but adding bathhouses, plumbing, and the resort’s own hydroelectric power system. The work was not completed by the time World War II began, and all construction had to be ceased due to the war effort.
Construction was not continued after the war, and severe flooding in 1960 destroyed a great deal of the resort. The abandoned property gained popularity in the 1970s from people who mistreated the remains of the resort and the hot springs. In 1976, the Morrow family formed a non-profit organization called the Northwest Wilderness Programs to protect the property and prevent unapproved private land use. Today, the hot springs are an exclusive experience only by entering a monthly lottery with the Northwest Wilderness Programs. The non-profit organization restricts visitors to just a few people a day to preserve the unique natural space that has been enjoyed by visitors since early history.
[Featured Image: William Goldmeyer, his wife Bertha, and his son Bryan at Crystal Hot Springs Resort. Photograph taken in 1909. PO.337.0012]