CHICO HOT SPRINGS / YELLOWSTONE 1
Seeking a fortune in the gold mines of Emigrant Gulch in the early
days of 1900 was hot and dirty work and at the end of the day the
unlucky fortune seekers faced greasy camp food and possibly sleeping
on the ground near the mud and the muck. The lucky miners slept in a
tent and ate canned rations but located just over the next mountain is
where they could find a clean bed, gourmet food, a soak in warm
mineral water and fresh strawberries served with each meal, all for
the affordable price of only six dollars a week.
The grand opening ceremony of Chico Hot Springs included music by a
brass band, high tea and an elegant ball hosted by the founding
owners, Percie Matheson Knowles, a school teacher by trade who was
also a prim and proper Victorian lady, a prohibitionist and a
suffragette, and her rough talking cowboy husband, William E. Knowles.
The dining room was formal with scrumptious food served on white
table cloths and the table arrangements included fine china.
Chico Hot Springs, established in 1900, located near Pray, Montana and
Paradise Valley offers not only soaking in the naturally heated
mineral waters of the natural spring, it once was home to a hospital
staffed by Doctor George A. Townsend, a physician who performed
countless varieties of medical care to include brain surgery. Chico
Hot Springs is conveniently located about thirty miles from
Yellowstone National Park. Although Mrs. Knowles wished to cater to
the elite clientele; her patrons generally consisted of the more
rugged type of people who sought moments of comfort.
My magnificent summer vacation of 2020 was an excursion to the western
states of Wyoming and Montana and the first historic place we visited
was Chico Hot Springs. Their statement probably explains it best: "A
Montana Icon that began with the natural hot springs over a century
ago. The legacy grows with exquisite cuisine, cozy rooms, outdoor
adventure, a western saloon and memories that last a lifetime. "
The original building at Chico had ten rooms for rent but soon doubled
in size to twenty rooms and over the years the guest accommodations
continued to be added. The resort now offers reservations in the
original historic building or in countless other available lodging
choices set in the tranquil mountains.
The original building, the boarding house, is listed on the National
Register of Historic Places and although some of the accommodations
are modern in style, they do not offer televisions. There are however
television sets in the Saloon for special occasions and sporting events.
Before the Covid-19 crisis, admission to the pools was available to
tourists but until further notice, only overnight guest are able to
enjoy the healing properties of the hot springs. Because of the
uniqueness of the resort, it has been called "a slice of paradise in
Montana.” Modern amenities include a day spa, horseback riding, tours
of the flower and herb gardens, souvenir shops and a wine tasting room.
Brenda S. Brown