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Mystery of the

Missing Book

a sideways look at


Springs History

by Stuart R. Ward

volunteer assistant manager, 2000-2002; work/trade bathhouse cold plunge builder/keeper, 1999-2014; withdrew support late 2017

"If you would understand anything, observe its

beginning and its development." -- Aristotle

"...the past is never truly is always tugging up both

its treasures and its tragedies and carrying them insistently into the future."

--Margaret Renkl

Ever wonder why there's never been a book written about so rare a place as Stewart Mineral Springs? On hearing snippets of its colorful history, you'd think surely there must be one out there. But no.


Why not?

After a fair amount of sleuthing and deduction, many likely reasons surfaced. In the course of telling, many scraps of history unearthed are shared here for a crazy-quilt journey through Stewart Springs's elusive past -- a most singular, circuitous, sometimes tragic one -- that for better or worse has brought it to be the way it is now.

Writer doesn't claim total objectivity; it's often said such a thing is impossible anyhow. Though trying to avoid over-coloring facts with personal, strong-felt takes, borne of former deep-insider involvement, sometimes it appeared a losing battle. Attempted to corral most opinionated writings within editorial sidebars, so readers wanting only to glean factual history of the place can scroll past them and gain a relatively rant-free understanding of the venerated healing realm, now in dire straits.

Few Written Records

For starters, in the early 1850s the far west was still remote. That was when Henry Stewart, in grave circumstances, was brought up to the Springs to heal by local natives who took pity on him. There obviously weren't people around in pioneer days to document the place's evolution, as in more populous regions, or areas that later became populous. Result: to this day there appears a pronounced lack of published source material from which to cobble together an even half-way thorough history of the Springs. 

For starters, many invaluable historic records, writings and photos that almost certainly did exist no doubt perished in the fire of July 4, 1948, that destroyed the on-grounds home of founder Stewart's daughter, Katy Stewart Lloyd, and her late husband, former Weed barber and British immigrant Edward Lloyd. They'd been managing the operation since her father's passing in 1914.

The fire may well have devastated her so much that she lost heart to continue service operations much longer. 

She'd already lost her only offspring, Stewart Lloyd, a year after her husband, in 1941, likely a World War Two casualty. Maybe she'd been thinking of retiring anyhow. In any event, she would divest of the place a few years later.

Born in 1880 a few years after her father Henry bought 40 acres surrounding the springs, bespectacled Mrs. Lloyd was 68 at the time of the fire -- age that her Jersey-born mom, Julia Newman Stewart, had passed over in 1911. She herself would live to be 92, possibly learning through channels how the Goodpasture family in the early 1970s rescued the place from what genuine spa fans considered egregiously inappropriate use once assuming their hands-on 11-year stewardship. (full Goodpasture story later)

After the grounds fire, dedicated momentum was upset and dashed any possible plans to pen some account of her California pioneer father's colorful life and the mystical healing springs to which he devoted his last 39 years.

   see old newspaper article reporting fire (check index and scroll down)

Factual Side Story

One Vexed Vanderbilt

George Vanderbilt, son of robber baron Cornelius Vanderbilt, was interested in spas and living in the area. After the fire he offered Katy pots of gold for place. He felt every respectable gazillionaire should have his own rustic mineral spring, as they were then a fashionable bauble among the uber-wealthy. He no doubt thought it a fire-sale offer she couldn't refuse.

She refused.

She knew he'd close the place to the public and probably turn it into private playground retreat for the rich and famous -- as his opulent estate on second-choice site a half-mile down the road, built in 1949 for $250,000, indeed became.(An average house went for $7,200 at the time.)

In the 1950s and 1960s, he reportedly hosted such notables as Harry S Truman, Clark Gable, Alan Ladd, Audrey Hepburn, Spencer Tracey, Van Heflin, Ginger Rogers and John Wayne, One imagines at least some of them must've taken the waters, maybe at special off hours time, as the grounds was only a short ways uphill. (If known for sure, management could've posted signs like "Audrey Hepburn Soaked Here" outside various tubrooms.) 

Van Heflin's daughter, Katy, visited with her dad as a girl and reported finding Vanderbilt a most disagreeable man.

In 1990, Vanderbilt's widow, Louise,then living in Hilo, Hawaii, sold the place for $1.9 million. The mansion burned down on the night of January 3rd, 2012, on the wings of the new owner's restoration work. Old faulty electrical wiring was deemed the likely culprit.

Wagonloads of shame

There are even fewer records than one might expect, due to settlers' and descendants' likely calloused feelings and shame over the hell-bent campaign during 1870's national peak of racial/cultural intolerance (Little Big Horn), to wipe out the region's First Nations people. The latter heard white man's war drums, being accused of widespread violence when likely it was only a stray renegade or two involved in an isolated tragic incident that sparked primitive blood lust in white settlers. They were hellbent on trying to get rid of them all.

Tribal members sought refuge by fleeing to their hallowed medicine grounds, a place of peaceful healing for time untold, a place where even warring tribal members left their weapons on the hillside to soak under temporary truce in the healing springs water. Those unable to get away from outnumbered, out-armed forces that soon found them there, or who chased them down as far away as Castle Lake, were duly massacred. Such a despicable legacy didn't make the place a suitable subject to wax nostalgic about in any conventional regional history annual like the Siskiyou Pioneer.

It's likely Henry got wind of the extermination plan, and, while refusing to have anything to do with it, was powerless to stop it. One story has it that a secret advance warning of the imminent attack leaked out, at least enabling warriors to steel themselves (or, possibly hoping there would be no need to once reaching their sanctuary land; King's Xes), and reportedly spirit women and children to safety across the valley to near present-day Carrick Addition off Highway 97, a few miles north of the town of Weed.

If true, perhaps it was Henry Stewart who got word to the peoples who a generation earlier had possibly saved his life. In any event, the ensuing horrific slaughter around the current resort grounds cast long and deep shadows over the once peaceful sacred grounds.

Metaphysical thinking holds that, on the subtle, the psychic residue of the massacre linger on the spot to this very day. It could lend the place its at times somewhat eerie, haunted, almost mournful vibe, one that might crimp any fuller healing experience for spa visitors. It has no doubt directly contributed to the unfortunate tendency of various legal stewards to get so off track with inappropriate operational schemes and dreams, hindering the accessibility and ability of mindful visitors to tap into the realm's pronounced purification, healing and rejuvenation properties and benefit from them.

Spring purists believe that pursuing any monetized and/or private-minded use of the land results not only in straitjacketing its potential to help greater humanity, but also slows the healing of the grievous wounds still festering on the land. (See more on this in former co-manager Ted's exorcism story [top article] and towards the end of More rants & Raves page.)

It's just water,

and the long and winding road

Natural healing methods like taking the waters fell out of fashion during the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. With the advent of materialistic reductionist thinking, to a medical science divorced from holistic awareness of nature's curative powers, water was just water. Any claims of health benefits by soaking and steaming and drinking mineral water were pure poppycock, shameless attempts to fleece a gullible public and divert them from their magic pills and eager blades.

Who'd want to read about such an obscure place anyhow? There was only the two-lane State Highway 99, until the advent of the 1950s' interstate highway system. Unpaved before the 1960s, Stewart Springs Road's dirt surface no doubt discouraged all but your more determined, rural-friendly souls. It was paved when it was only due to a county supervisor's efforts after his ailing son appeared helped by visits to the waters. He felt the place worthy of easier access.

Historic phone number trivia: while it's well known Native Americans called gold the yellow stone, less known is that in the 1950s the Springs's phone number prefix was YEllowstone (YEllowstone 8-7955). YE converts to the 93 in the current Weed, California area's 938- prefix

Dizzying stewardship

turnover during a 28-year period

Once the place left the dedicated Stewart family hands of 78 years, from 1876 to 1954, there was frequent turnover of Springs stewards up until 1982:

  • Sacramento Scottish Rite Masonic Lodge (15 years) - c. 1954-1969

  • Group of three Weed, CA businessmen - (brief) c. 1969 - 1971

  • Goodpasture family (11 years) - c.1971 - 1981

  • Whitney couple (brief) c. 1981 - 1982

Before the long holding by the fifth post-Stewart 'owner', San Franciscan John Foggy -- from early 1982 through January 2016, some 34 years, or over twice as long as any other post-Stewart holder -- either none of the various legal stewards were around long enough or had any inclination to absorb the place's saga and pen some chronicle. Fragments of history were all we had and appears all we still have. That is, beyond oral histories passed down among tribal members. And possibly some elusive treasure-trove of diary journals buried and forgotten in the bottom of an attic trunk in Eerie, Pennsylvania, or gathering dust in Smithsonian's vast basement storage acreage. (It's said there's only room to publicly display one percent of the enormous holdings of "America's Attic" at a time.)

Masons - the first

post-Stewart stewards

A few years after refusing Vanderbilt's offer, Stewart's daughter, Katy, in an astonishing move, essentially gave the place away.* In 1954, the Sacramento (CA) Scottish Rite Masonic Lodge, recipient of her largess, took over, thus momentously ending the extraordinarily dedicated 78-year Stewart family service run.

* The Siskiyou County Historical Society in a May 2012 newsletter reported in the Sacramento Bee reprint that "The Scottish Rite paid approximately $40,000 for the property." However, since the Rite's very own newsletter says the land was a gift grant to them, writer tends to believe their version. A gift is only a gift if one doesn't pay for it. Maybe the figure was the new assessment value, made whenever property changes hands, and reporter assumed they'd paid that for it, the masons maybe having kept secretive the terms of transfer, figuring it was nobody's business, and the reporter never considered that someone might've actually given away the property.

She, like her father, no doubt had believed it essential that operation of one of earth's powerful healing spots be kept simple, affordable and service-oriented.

No room for any get-rich-quick schemes, unseemly preoccupation trying to ramp up revenue with lure of fancy lodgings and dining...or subsidizing costs by re-purposing use of the grounds and suffering sharing it with a select public to generate enough cash flow to compensate for their intrusion onto what could soon be thought as their own private estate to do with what they pleased. 

There was no such worldly nonsense afoot then. Only enough was charged its visitors to cover everyday costs, maintenance, live-on grounds manager's living expenses and a small salary, maybe a modest improvement now and then. Operations under the Stewarts, and later the masons, seemed to often run close to break-even, or even at a loss...apparently more or less acceptable to all concerned.

For the place was never about making money; it was a public-spirited endeavor dedicated to providing affordable natural purification, healing and rejuvenation as a service to ailing humanity.

It was essentially a public trust, a love-of-service, nonprofit-in-spirit enterprise. One devoted to enabling both city-choked travelers and locals alike to rejuvenate in its easily accessible wild nature, roughing it with only basic amenities provided while focusing on detoxing, unwinding and healing nature's simple, time-proven way.

"It's a 24-hour day. It's like a child - you're always caring for it, nurturing it, trying to make it better." -- Crystal Foggy, co-manager with sister Astra, 2004-5, daughters of former longtime absentee land steward, John Foggy

With Sacramento masons running the retreat from 1954 to 1969, lodge member couples drawn to the place themselves benefited from water treatments while living on grounds and managing the then seven-month open season, spanning between April Fools Day and Halloween.

Beyond hosting visitors at a then still uber-rustic retreat and providing mineral bath and sauna treatments, they busied themselves with constructing new lodgings, like the row of present day apartments #1 - 6 running below the Cottage. (Writer's uncertain who built the Cottage -- or dorm units #7 - 10 for that matter -- but it had to be either masons, the following Weed investors, or the Goodpastures.) Such lodging expansions enabled more to enjoy the extended benefits of taking the waters. A focused series of 21 daily baths was recommended to turn around the more troubling maladies. see Masonic bulletin excerpts in Vintage News Articles 

Synchronicity: Henry Stewart and  his daughter each successively devoted 39 years of service to their simple, yet extraordinary, spa retreat. The stairway up to dorm rooms 7-10 above bathhouse, built by others long after their reigns, has, excluding later-added concrete landing pad...39 steps.

Weed Consortium

Follows Masons

In 1969, after some 15 years' operation, the masons sold the place for reasons unknown. Maybe they got tired of it not paying for itself any better due to fitful visitors, and/or managers got cabin fever and wanted to

< A-frame group lodging,

built with NFL earnings

move on and no replacements could be found.

In any event, it was soon sold to a consortium of three local Weed, California businessmen: Joe Aquila and Fred 

Pilon (both of whom died about 2011), and head, former NFL football star Aaron Thomas, Jr. (Still kicking in Grants Pass,Oregon as of February 2021). He'd played tight end for the S.F. 49ers and New York Giants from 1961 through 1970.

While it might just be coincidence, Thomas was himself a mason. Possibly it was a token gesture by the Sacramento lodge to keep the place in the family, so to speak, with the clutching-at-straws rationale that by finding a fellow mason to take over, the Sacramento lodge would've somehow, kinda sorta, kept the solemn promise, believed to have been made to the founder's daughter Katy, to forever keep the place a simple affordable retreat dedicated to healing under Masonic protection.

And if the new 'ownership' didn't, well, it was on them.

If so, fat lot of good it did. Besides immediately legally carving up the acreage for their own private vacation home fiefdoms, there was talk by the new 'owners' -- no doubt among other fantasies -- of maybe turning the place into a football training camp. (As not too far away, resurrected Harbin Hot Springs was once long ago a boxers' training retreat, stranger things have happened. Farmers downstream who diverted water from the creek might've earned extra money fishing out and returning errant throws that bobbed their way into their onion fields.)

After 78 years of earnest, straightforward dedication to healing under the Stewarts plus another 15 of what might be called dedication-lite by the Masons, things suddenly got sketchy.

While the triumvirate did make improvements, which would aid in the enjoyment of future public visitors during their tenure of 19 months, including building current cabins #13 - 17 (unplumbed until a later steward), they also, again, immediately subdivided the land...legally lopping off the top and bottom quarters of the former 40-acre parcel between themselves.

This action, perhaps, until recently, more than anything since the land became privately 'owned', served to greatly hamstring the healing potential of the realm to serve a visiting public.

The A-frame house later to be rented to large groups (front shown two pictures up) was built as Thomas's own private vacation home on the topmost 10 acres. To this day, it remains a legally separate parcel from the main 20+ acre chunk, though it has always been tacked on to larger piece in Springs property transfers.

And what's known as the Green Springs House, just outside the entrance gates, appearing as the Springs gatehouse or maybe some manager's residence, was built as another private vacation home for one of the three. It too became its own narrow ten acre slice of former Springs property.

In contrast to the A-frame parcel, it wasn't tacked back onto the rest of the Springs property in future transfers, but stayed under different legal title. The massive gated wood fence built between it and the rest of the property -- and, much later, a surreal wire spanning high across the creek with a 'No Trespassing' sign weirdly dangling over the flowing waters -- underscored the fact in no uncertain terms. In time, the house would become the longtime home of 1970's co-steward Carol Goodpasture's sister, renowned polarity massage therapist Elizabeth Wagner (crossed over in 2012).

In the early 1980s it briefly became the leased residence of world-renowned Findhorn co-founder Peter Caddy. Having moved on from his Scotland venture, he was now interested in setting up a new kind of Findhorn, very possibly at Stewart Springs (then tenuously on the market, if likely at a prohibitively speculative price). It would become a teaching and retreat center of sorts. His group actually held workshop conferences on the grounds. For reasons uncertain, things never panned out. see Book Excerpts

What became known as the Cottage, perched above apartment row #1-6, was possibly built by the third member and kept within the main parcel. Maybe its resident was willing to serve as caretaker for the public area's occasional guests and running the bathhouse between enjoying one of the best sites on the land for its white noise water music, setting right above the seasonally thundering creek.

In any event, again, on the subtle plane such divisive parceling out of the land might be viewed as having handicapped the spirit of the land, and the oneness of operation provided under the Stewarts for any more holistic enjoyment of the realm by more psychically attuned, awakened and sensitive sojourners.

The Stewart family's pure intent to keep the place simple, nonprofit, dedicated to affordable natural healing and rejuvenation -- the focus apparently more or less honored by the masons as long as they ran it -- had faded like a rose cut from life-giving roots the instant they (apparently) abdicated their stewardship trust by selling it to businessmen with little seeming understanding or regard for the place's public-minded, natural healing pedigree.

It's an everlasting pity they didn't take the time to find more suitable buyers, ones who'd naturally want to keep alive the dedicated focus of honoring the land by running a good-karma, benevolent, break-even

service to humanity...rather than going off the deep end with inappropriate diversionary trips, copping the mundane attitude of, "It's our property now, we can do with it whatever we want..the possibilities!"

Did the triumvirate -- or the various other legal stewards following them -- perhaps consider the Stewarts fools for never having exploited such prime property and natural riches for financial gain? Possibly. That, or assumed -- as has a swath of the uninformed public over time -- that they were bumbling operators with no head for business and so never made the place a viable concern, when in fact (as noted elsewhere), Henry Stewart was already a successful businessman from several related ventures before purchasing the land.

He no doubt started the Springs retreat as a relaxing retirement gig, enabling living closer to nature again, moving up from his home in nearby Edgewood...and a way of giving back after all his good fortune. And, in the process, perhaps acknowledging and honoring the earth wisdom and land reverence of the native culture whose members decades earlier had possibly saved his life. His daughter and her husband appeared to hold the same attitude of gratitude, wanting to share the healing gift of the land with others. And so they likewise dedicated themselves to help serve ailing humanity by offering a simple, nourishing retreat in a quiet, unassuming manner amid the restorative quietude of wild nature.

Again, maybe over time the masons came to resent being saddled with such a remote operation. Possibly it had become something of a white elephant, sapping the lodge's energy, focus and funds...and, again, they simply wanted to be shut of it after the latest caretakers/operators had burned out living at the remote location seasonally and no new recruits could be found.

Possibly the actual masonic members who reportedly made the solemn promise to Katy Stewart had by then died or retired...and the current heads didn't feel anywhere near the same solemn responsibility to continue honoring the sacred trust given the lodge.

That, or, for all anybody knows, maybe she'd simply told them to just do the best they could for as long as they could, crossing her fingers and hoping for the best, that it might thus somehow remain locked into the family's same dedication of offering a high-minded healing service in perpetuity.

One wonders if she or her British-American husband had ever considered making the place a legal nonprofit service operation -- or at least encourage the incoming masons to pursue such a change -- in order to better lock it into protection, guaranteeing the healing realm would remain dedicated to serving the way it was and never to be used for anything else. Maybe, if so, she'd concluded that any such legal move was unnecessary in an age when one's word was their bond; there was no need to pay some high-priced lawyer for a convoluted paper that would've likely required spelling out in exacting, restrictive terms how to run what had always been a super relaxed down-home operation.

It's likewise unknown exactly why the three Weed businessmen didn't make a longer go of it than their 19 month tenure. Maybe they'd snapped up the place cheap, a bargain they couldn't refuse, then were never quite sure what to do with it. Not beyond making speculative improvements while enjoying the place for themselves awhile in their newly-built vacation homes before reselling, at a presumably tidy profit, once things got old and they itched to go their own ways to tackle new financial ventures.

Or they could never all agree what direction to take the place, and it became easiest to give up the one-time pure healing realm now at cross purposes.

It's fairly safe to assume they had, as a whole, never been keen on running any quaint, health-minded bathhouse. It's more likely they'd hoped to get the place to pay for itself by becoming more of a rustic resort than mineral spa retreat per se, lodging becoming the new central attraction, through building five hillside rental cabins. (Once back on market, their own larger vacation structures, thrown into the new lodging mix,had taken operational focus further away from spa healing as the place's primary reason for being.)

Maybe one or more had come to feel guilty for breaking up the tea set, as it were, being reminded that the place had long been a historic operation and thinking it maybe deserved to be kept going by parties that could actually get into running a rural healing spa retreat, like the founders.

Or, again, being practical businessmen, maybe they'd all simply agreed beforehand to flip it after a certain time and were all too willing to part with it to the first comer down the pike plunking down cash on the barrel head. One will always wonder.

In any event, as fate would have it they transferred the place to a party that, to date, came the closest to honoring the land and resurrecting its original love-of-service spirit and purifying-healing-rejuvenation focus.

Grand Goodpasture Era

Far and away, the most colorful and thriving post-Stewart stewardship reign unfolded when Carol and Winston Goodpasture's family arrived to take the helm in the early 1970s.

They'd moved up from South Pasadena in Southern California on the tidal wave of late '60's-early '70's rebirth in natural healing ways and popular resistance to oppressive forces, wherever they lurked. It was a season of miracles. Visionary thinking held that those rarefied times were no less than Infinite Spirit giving all receptive lucid, super-technicolor previews of the coming attractions of a planet transformed. Carol said she felt guided to the place. They'd call the A-frame their new home. (Unknown if they ever felt unaccountables urge to watch NFL games.)

The Goodpastures' divorce -- there was trouble in paradise after all -- prompted a hasty selling of the place in 1980. They were obviously in no mood to write any book (or "How my Husband Merrily Blew My Fortune" might've been the title). The Springs had the misfortune of being 'sold' to a couple, the Whitneys, who either didn't appreciate the treasure, know how to care for it, and/or seriously lacked any real means to. They weren't good for the $300,000. balance soon due, the initial $30,000. down apparently having exhausted their resources.

Speculative Aside:

Was Whitney related to S.F.'s Sutro Baths owner George Whitney?

Pure speculation here, but... one wonders if the ephemeral Springs holder Robert Whitney was any relation to San Francisco brothers Robert and Leo Whitney, who at various times owned and ran The City's Ocean Beach Playland-at-the-Beach, the Cliff House...and Sutro Baths.

Whitney, San Francisco's "Barnum of the West," purchased the place and attempted a rescue of the renowned but perennially money-losing Sutro Baths operation after Sutro's death, keeping it going a few decades more (thus enabling writer to enjoy roaming the fanciful sprawling realm growing up), before throwing in one of ten thousand towels stocked for the masses who never showed.

Later-day Robert Whitney connected with John Foggy in San Francisco, where Foggy was based.

Combine these facts and curiosity's aroused. Granted, Whitney's not that uncommon a name, but one can't help wondering. Perhaps Springs's defaulting Whitney owner was a grandson or such to the regionally prominent Whitney family. If so, and in the genes as it were, he'd perhaps become irresistibly drawn to rescue yet another historically famous, financially-indifferent bathhouse operation, this time one at top of state and tucked up in the woods, but lacked the wherewithal to succeed. 

If true, it would further solidify place's historic San Francisco connection, as back in the day visitors flocked to Stewart's from the Bay Area by taking a train up for a grand outing in the wilds of state's sparsely populated northern region. (Also popular was nearby Dunsmuir's Shasta Springs.)

If not, it's still a good story.


History, cont'd

San Francisco's Foggy

(well, of course it is)

It was rumored that the floundering Whitney couple, desperate, actually tried to get mafia financing at some point for the looming hefty balance fast coming due. In any event, they finally snagged a last-minute investment loan from San Francisco entrepreneur John Foggy.

Foggy no doubt sensed a great business opportunity if the couple defaulted, and it must've seemed probable that they would.

In less than two years, during which time the over-their-heads  -- and reportedly a bit whacked-out -- the couple let place go to wrack and ruin and they indeed gave up their misguided efforts, throwing in towel, and the place went into foreclosure.

Foggy then promptly snapped up the property at a county auction for the $20,000 back-taxes and penalties due. He was basically buying the place from himself, obviously not about to lose his investment. He thus became the place's 'absentee steward' for the next 34 years, until early 2016. Hereby put to rest are the persistant rural legends of how he picked the place up for a song on the county courthouse steps, or won it in a high-stakes poker game -- unless perhaps one considers the original speculative investment a poker hand of sorts and, as it turned out, an incredibly long one. (More on Foggy and his reign later.)

Now, what about the man who started it all? 

Pioneer Henry Stewart 

According to 1890 census reports, founder Henry S. Stewart stood six feet even and was a blue-eyed gent. He came out west in 1851 on the wings of the California gold rush. In his early twenties, he was no doubt seeking fame, fortune and adventure.

He'd trekked from northeastern Pennsylvania's coal-barging canal hometown of Honesdale, newly built to help sate New York City's voracious fuel appetite. For historic perspective, the year he was born, 1827, was a mere year after the July 4, 1826 deaths of both U.S. founding fathers and second and third presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (famously on nation's 50th anniversary).

Having arrived in California by oxen wagon via Salt Lake City, after likely first giving gold panning a try he found himself exploring the top of the state. The story goes that natives secretly watched him exhausting himself futilely trying to get his heavy-laden wagon unstuck from (possibly frozen) mud. They took pity on him after he keeled over in total prostration and faced possible death (assuming it was winter) if not rescued. They carried him up to their sacred mineral waters sanctuary to soak in the healing waters, heated by throwing in rocks super-heated in fire, similar to sweat lodge heating method used to this day.

He credited the healing waters, along with their kind ministrations, for saving his life.

Stewart returned East during American Civil War years in the first half of the 1860s. (Undetermined whether or not he enlisted, as so many Henry Stewarts of Pennsylvania did.) But he came back in late 1860s, sailing around Horn this time, with his new bride, Julia Newman, plus milling equipment. He then reportedly started the region's first grain mill in Edgewood and over time prospered through milling, farming, cattle ranching and dairy.

Long after having been cured by the mineral waters on his first visit and becoming a true believer in its healing powers, after lengthy legal delay he purchased 40 acres of Springs area land from the federal government in 1875. Apparently there'd been some dispute whether it was government land or land given away by the government to Central Pacific Railroad as part of incentive to build the rail line through the region.

Such further contentious energies present around the founding of the charitable enterprise might also linger on the subtle to metaphysical thinking, further hobbling the place's fuller potential as a healing retreat...that is, unless and until such karma's fully erased by a full-tilt, long-term dedication to once again provide a greater humanity with public-minded natural purification, healing and rejuvenation service.

 Poster from unknown year. maybe 1910s.

Note the exorbitant bath price!  

His was a labor of love, pure and simple. Again, perhaps a fulfilling retirement gig at age 46. (While this doesn't sound old today, the average lifespan then was, of course, considerably shorter.)

With no financial interest in making the retreat any sort of cash cow, happy to break even or even subsidize operation costs when need be, he and his family between themselves would dedicate 78 years to fostering an affordable, grounded rural retreat for purifying, healing, and peaceful recreation (apart, that is, from possibly killing some non-human residents for sport or food). All amid wild alpine surroundings, often-lively Parks Creek coursing its way through. (Reportedly named after an early surveyor.)

Trivia: Henry Stewart's middle name was Stella. Back then it wasn't uncommon to honor female family member by bestowing her name into a descendant male's moniker.

Back to

Foggy days

A resourceful, self-made millionaire, John Foggy became, as mentioned, the fifth post-Stewart family (and first absentee) steward for some 34 years. He had likely never before dealt with such an whose bottom line -- original reason for being -- was not to generate a profit, but rather to offer affordable purifying, healing and retreating as a public benefit service to humanity. While the two post-Stewart stewardships before him had tried making a go of things, the operation was yet worlds away from ever gaining a profitable viability.

What to do with such a philanthropic oddity.  Re-sell it? Or -- as he did after briefly putting it on market and intuiting from ready responses that the place was undervalued and so maybe worthy of building up as a long-term investment.

To his everlasting credit, while indeed aiming to transform the place into a profit-generating resort, one which would on certain levels inevitably take it further from the original spirit of Stewart's good-karma enterprise, he accepted the proposal of an extended local family who approached him. They believed in the place so much, they were willing to work for peanuts to try to reactivate its original dedicated healing focus. They apparently convinced him that with more and more people seeking such natural spa purification and rejuvenation, in time business was bound to take off. This indeed became the case, but only after 20 years of hit or miss effort. (see more of their story in 'Me and Mary and Stewart Springs'.)

Plus, he was open-minded enough to allow clothing-optional during the last 17 years of his reign, from 2000 to 2016. And had the good sense to keep the place's historic and quaint rustic charm intact -- even if (dubiously) adding to it in a faux manner by building a peculiar, neo-old-fort entrance. (see side story below). And, despite occasional grumbling, he let the by-then weekly Karuk sacred sweat lodge ceremonies continue doing their thing on its dedicated spot above the bathhouse.

A future Frommers Guide would call the place " of the most unusual health spas in California." Few if any would disagree with such an assessment. The realm had over time become a super mongrel, the mix of sacred indigenous peoples' sanctuary land, site of unspeakable massacre, partial redemption by a pioneer's family and commercialization by future stewards.

Foggy wasn't always an absentee 'owner.' Early on, he came up and stayed in the A-frame with his family on working vacations. Future co-managing daughters Crystal and Astra reported having fond childhood memories of the place. He no doubt tuned into the grounds, sussing the possibilities and brainstorming ways to maybe upgrade it into a more upscale rustic springs resort. He hoped to attract a broader variety of visitors beyond the then-limited base of natural healing devotees and often thin-spending countercultural trekkers.

Over time he produced radio and TV ads, using management personnel. Manager Mary Hildebrand's front-office managing mom, Pat, reportedly offered folksy pitches, ala Motel 6 chain's Tom Bodet. And, like Motel 6, management had its staff turn the porch light on before leaving for home if a guest planned on arriving after nightfall when the office was closed.


Side Story

Iconic, Ironic Fort Entrance

One dramatic change: building the wooden faux fort entrance that to this day still greets visitors. Replete with massive plank gates with iron bracing and crenelated watch towers, any impressionable visitor no doubt half-expected to see the towers manned.

It possibly struck some as a misplaced movie set from a '50s western or a bygone bizarre attempt to create a rural Frontierland amusement park out in the boonies. One unlikely story has it that it was created in hopes of attracting interest from Hollywood as a site for filming westerns. 

Then again, it's possible the absentee steward appreciated how John Wayne and other westerns film stars formerly visited a mile down the hill at the Vanderbilt mansion, and perhaps thought it a fitting symbolic tribute to the frontier times of retreat founder Henry Stewart. Be that as it may, the massive gates did serve to help protect the grounds from vandals, thieves, and would-be squatters, as the place had always closed for winter until late 1999 and had been left vulnerable.

The entrance stands as supreme irony on one level: Old West forts were built to protect white men from the marauding red men who refused to abandon their deep-rooted homelands, while natives ran to the sacred springs seeking king's x's refuge from the marauding white men who were determined to exterminate them. Some, especially Native Americans, might therefore view the entrance as historically insensitive -- if not plumb nuts -- appearing as it does to be symbolically protecting Native Americans' ancestral healing grounds from themselves.

Say what?

In any event, the entrance is a mind-boggler for every first-timer:

"Now entering Fort Stewart, safe at last! Let our cavalry help you find respite from the slings and arrows of modern times by enjoying our refreshing spa. (Kindly check any attitudes at the front office.)"


Managements under Foggy reign:

Early 1980s thru 2016

Having other, larger businesses to run -- Foggy reportedly once held custodial contracts for every U.S. Air Force base west of the Rockies -- he switched operations to macro-management, hoping to build it into a going concern by relying on the modestly-paid, living-on-grounds managers' business acumen and creative innovations -- all within his hard-nosed directives, of course. He told them that since he lived so far away and would seldom visit, they should act as if they owned the place in order to gain the best sense of what maybe needed to be done to increase business. Of course, any illusion of 'owning' it often clashed with reality, as the place often straggled by with a fitful, small staff that was working on a starvation budget.

He'd apparently often flirted with the idea of selling it -- reportedly soliciting offers, then withdrawing from the market once essentially getting real-life appraisals and possibly having a few almost-sells. Hollywood action actor Steven Seagal, for instance, once made a ridiculously low counter-offer on the place -- reportedly about $60,000 -- that was rejected out of hand. (Possibly the figure allowed for the high cost of bringing the place up to health and building codes; the wiring, for example, was a giant antiquated mess.)

Again, this led to an epidemic of false rumors of some mysterious new 'owner' having snapped up the place every time a new manager appeared at the front office desk displayed pronounced proprietary airs. (Absentee stewards, it seems, can all too easily cause such faulty assumptions. Over the decades reviewers frequently referred to the place's hired managers as the actual 'owners', when, of course, they were only employees doing the absent, so-called steward's bidding.)

He finally DID let go of operation on January 19, 2016, after 34 years of alternately sitting on the place and letting it fester and building it up. (His daughter, the two-year co-manager Crystal, had earlier passed on an offer to let her take over the place permanently, eventually inheriting it, as not at all her cup of tea.)

For how much? A trip to the county court house, where it's public information, revealed the place went for $US 2.6 million.

Foggy managers over the years:

~ (Earliest managers unknown)

~ Couple: Susie Frank and Joe Helweg, lived on grounds; 11 years, 1989-1999

~ Mary Hildebrand, Susie's cousin, five years, 1999-2004 (died 2004), lived 12 miles away; both tenures with Susie's and Mary's mothers, Cece and Pat, respectively, taking turns managing front office

~ Foggy's daughters Crystal and Astra (latter lived on grounds in the Cottage; former lived in Mt. Shasta); two years, 2004-2006

~ Couple: Ted Duncan, 2006-2015, ten years; (died 2015); and wife Rowena Pantaleon, 12 years, 2006-2017; lived on grounds in Cottage much of time until Ted's passing, then mostly remote managed last two years for new legal owners from her distant Chico home

(see story of 1989-2005 family management and writer's eventual, informal role in it in the second tale of Something about Mary)

(History cont'd after long aside)

Warning: Long, rambling, opinionated sidebar ahead.

Scroll past if of no or little interest.

New, wildly inappropriate 'ownership' focus

Will place ever get it right again?

As most everyone surely knows by now, the Springs got its first new 'owners' in ages. Title transferred on January 19, 2016. Individual names are unknown to writer (which fact speaks volumes over concern for transparency and public relations).

As mentioned, vague rumors of new stewards were rife over decades, resulting every time some officious new front desk manager appeared. Many visitors apparently couldn't distinguish between absentee 'ownership' and the various managers hired by them who must, in the chronic absence of a real steward, ACT as though they  

indeed 'owned' the place. Perhaps the notion of the proprietor not being there, or at least popping in now and then to mingle with guests, was too weird and discomforting a reality to try to wrap one's mind around.

The new, Pneuma-Institute-involved title holders reportedly live as far away as L.A., Mexico and South America -- making for a way-y absentee stewardship. (And one thought San Francisco was far.) New grounds management only coalesced two years after the sale, old manager Rowena P. having stayed in charge two years past the legal property transfer and acting mostly by remote from hundreds of miles away, relaying abrupt policy changes and directives for the grounds' rubber-stamping staff to rigorously follow, no questions asked:

We want you to cut down all those hillside trees... (?) well, okay. Tell people they can't skinnydip anymore... ya gotta be kidding! -- okay, okay, don't get your undies in a bunch. Sign this nondisclosure agreement if you want to keep your job... jeesh...well, okay (something's fishy here, but hell, it's a paycheck...)

"I'm listening"

L​ong before the sale to the new 'owners', a hidden microphone was secretly planted in the office by old management. It was apparently done, among other reasons, like security, to try to nip in the bud any staff members who dared to grumble about Foggy's sometimes heavy-handed marching orders -- or management's own. Mic seemed to continue serving the same function with the new absentee stewards. It worked to keep any office staff from talking out of school, inclined to commiserate with dumbfounded longtime visitors, without suffering dire consequence, once the sea-level operational changes began totally gutting the former quasi down-home spirit of the place. 

At least one office worker was fired as a result. (She had planned to quit anyhow, unwilling to any longer be party to such a grievous scene.)

Is that spooky or what? Writer had suspected such a device existed long before the legal title change, ever since experiencing an incident. One day, no sooner had I started voicing a bit of constructive criticism in the office, as was my wont, to the front desk Linda Boyle's sympathetic ear*, than suddenly head manager Rowena rushed in out of nowhere for no apparent reason, trying to act all nonchalant by just standing there, looking about, the very picture of (feigned) innocence.

* Sad to report, office manager Linda and husband Joe, vital SMS handyman for many years, lost everything but their lives to fire a few years after retiring to Paradise, California, site of state's devastating 2018 Camp Fire.

More sensitive visitors, especially those treasuring memories of mellower times, might've felt as though some springs gestapo had somehow, suddenly, surreally taken over the place. The same basic thing had happened after Foggy bought place in early 1980s before later mellowing, as related further on. see new owner article

The steward change had, at first, seemed pregnant with possibility. Writer optimistically hoped it would prove a golden opportunity to more fully redeem the legacy of the pioneer founding family and further re-activate the profound healing potential of the sacred land. The new ostensible stewardship was, after all, involved in a quasi-spiritual field, and before the sale had reportedly told the manager that they basically liked the place just the way it was. (see home page). Of course, it's possible this was only a fabricated story to keep the natives from rebelling until she was safely out of the picture, or maybe she herself was naive enough (or possibly distracted by the handsome 10% broker commission she was about to get) to want to take them at their word. 

In any event, it seemed a golden chance to re-dedicate the place and fine-tune the operation to one more affordable, purifying, healing and rejuvenating -- in the process drawing renewed involvement from the wider community with all its varied talents, skills and resources. The place appeared poised to become an even more thriving cultural healing center -- locally, nationally, globally.

Sadly, time proved the latest absentee stewards were far from being interested in keeping the place 'just the way it was.' They'd apparently only been biding their time, all the while patiently spinning their grandiose, unseemly, private-minded diversionary plans. Soon enough they proved their intent to SERIOUSLY change the operation, essentially re-purposing the entire place just to suit their own conservative organization's exclusive shtick and collective mindset.

The early apparent aim: revamp the visitor base to Spring-unsavvy traffic (for a while), to help support outfit's psychoanalytical shtick, the public effectively defraying their 'rental' costs to have the place also serve as their Pneuma world headquarters (they have branches in several countries). Plus, of course, enable its various affiliated groups and family members to enjoy the place for themselves from time to time as their own private little Shangri-la.

Forget any altruistic effort to further provide general public with a dedicated, genuine, affordable mineral spa and simple lodging for longer enjoyment and benefit of the healing natural elements. And, after the action that one fan called a crime against humanity, just forget the spa, period.

Gone with the wind...or so it might appear.

Spring-purist visitors, on earlier finding a cornerstone to the progressive spa atmosphere, clothing-optional, suddenly verboten, plus the sacred sweat lodge kicked off the land, had viewed changes as little more than the place having morphed into some ersatz, convention-bound, fundamentalist-friendly, watered-down tourist trap saddled with weird, monetized new-age overtones.  All before ever junking spa service and unequivocally revealing their wildly misguided intentions.

One, before their ground reveal, would've thought that over $26,000 a year in county property taxes alone to scrape together would've provided incentive enough to stay with the proven formula that was solidly supported by the long established, loyal customer base. But they seemed to have made a gamble that they could divert the entire focus of place, all but shut the gates entirely, and have a few outside groups  subsidize their private shtick. So they blew off the huge bohemian-leaning base, whose support, again, was largely responsible for putting the operation well into the black for possibly for the first time ever (and no doubt driving up the sale price).

Time has proven that they intended all along to morph the place into serving their own thing, seemingly callously indifferent to the global public's deep affection for it, and were resigned to the high 'rent' as the price to pay for legally derailing the place's longtime spa dedication to suit their own purposes. They were apparently willing to accept becoming seen as dastardly villains and maybe even live with the place becoming a perpetual money pit. (Or they had perhaps finagled some convoluted tax write-off to minimize the ouch of the ongoing cash drain.)

As related on the home page, soon after the new, actual-on-grounds management arrived in December 2017, on the wings of the way-absentee stewardship board members' visit, the place's sporadically powerful medicine wheel ground to a screeching halt. They'd thrown a boxful of monkey wrenches into it by kicking out the sacred sweat lodge and erasing the springs gazebo's love and prayer offering altar...and, a year earlier, scrapped the old-management unsupported, but 'owner'-okayed, clothing-optional policy of a generation's standing.

No surprise, former high visitor volume tanked overnight.

Prayers are for appropriate future stewardship to rescue the realm after the failure of the current misguided effort to alter the place into some private-minded, psychotherpeutic quasi new-age scene overlaid with organized religion-- one that, in many ways, can't even BEGIN to hold a candle to Mother Earth's own simple ways to reintegrate and uplift bodies, minds and spirit. (One of ostensible central goals of Pneuma approach...ahem.)

The actions are, obviously, too bizarre for words. It's an ill-conceived effort that time will prove disastrous for all concerned.

In other countries -- sometimes even in U.S, like Virginia's Berkeley Springs, the nation's oldest mineral springs resort; Washington soaked there -- such a rarity as Stewart Springs would've long ago become a protected public holding, something like a dedicated trust or working historic state park.

Not that that might necessarily be the best solution. Perhaps better if the future benefactor steward -- imagine one -- legally sets up the place as a charitable nonprofit operation in perpetuity, as reportedly done long ago at nearby Jackson Wellsprings in southern Oregon, and as did California's Harbin Hot Springs, when creating its nonprofit Church of Heart Consciousness -- thus quashing any possible future inappropriate notions of would-be 'ownership' from ever again trying to co-opt the place to run it in variance from its long noble (if sporadic) tradition: dedication to providing greater humanity with natural, affordable purifying, healing, and rejuvenating amid the glad tidings of nature.

So inclined former fans of the place are now bestirring imaginations. Thinking of possible new benefactor(s) for the place...ones both conscious and affluent enough to afford to 'buy' the place once the current remote stewards throw in towel, thus enabling Springs to become a good-karma operation once again. Brainstorming ways the regional community can again plug into the place, volunteering diverse talents, ideas and long last making the place everybody's baby.  Maybe fans forming a nonprofit group with the express purpose of attracting such a benefactor, or gaining a purchase grant, like from MacKenzie Scott.

More synchronicity: a mindboggling indication that the universe is on our side: as said elsewhere, Harbin Hot Springs, one of the U.S. West Coast's most popular, free-spirited spa resorts, busy rebuilding after devastating fire, re-opened on January 19, 2019 -- the same exact date that, three years earlier, the new Stewart 'owners' took legal control

 Is there some kind of grand neutralization effect at play here, perchance?

see home page also rants & raves


(Stewart Springs History, cont'd)

Ball dropped

in the early 1980s

As noted, the foolish stewarding Whitney couple, before Foggy, let place go to wrack and ruin over their short, 20 month tenure -- a state it seemed to take decades to recover from. Some who remember the halcyon Goodpasture days or the momentous millennium-fever times might've said it was still struggling to recover even before the latest legal title, to inappropriate 'stewards', grievously set back the clock for the place ever redeeming itself.

Of course, the Goodpasture reign was during euphoric times, what some saw as no less than the massive first flushes of humanity's latest cycle of spiritual re-awakening, replete with giddy possibilities, after having slumbered through the incredibly dark and violent times of World War 2.

Far easier to build positive energy flows with the spiritual bar set so ridiculously low. Some hold that the early '60s had marked spiritual low point in grand 26,000 year spiritual cycle, and the only way was up...that all the over-the-top psychedelic hippie hoopla only reflected a full-tilt celebration of a historically staggering, cosmic time.

The latter turn of the twentieth century period was a similar euphoric time, if nowhere near as earth-shaking, one that fostered wildly free, liberating notions -- like enjoying the spa, sunshine and creek non-encumbered by needless cloth, if one so chose.  Why not? It was a new century. Out with the old, in with the new.

The place had earlier turned 180 degrees from being a lighthearted bohemian oasis to a murky wayward backwater -- even rednecky* -- leisure resort. No doubt, nature spirits who'd once enchanted the place fled in terror, no longer feeling the loving kindness of humans resonating with the land.


*During the first visit in the bathhouse in the mid 1980s, writer encountered a rough, unkempt man slouching in the chair behind the  office desk, just hanging out  and idly chewing the fat with another. Trying to get a handle on the new place and feeling lost at sea, sensing chaos and confusion reigning supreme, for want of any better question I asked if he was the owner. "Wrong color," he snorted in contempt. (The absentee legal owner, Foggy, was Black.)

Findhorn's Peter Caddy;

French Chef Serge Margot discover Springs

The Springs enjoyed fitful spiritual retreats and workshops, aided by nearby Mount Shasta's powerful metaphysical energies. Event heads led in calling forth healing forces to reactivate the sanctuary's positive frequency -- notably in 1983-1984 when Peter Caddy, of international Findhorn fame, held workshops on the grounds while living at Green Springs house, just outside the fortress gate. He'd sussed the possibilities of buying the place, then tenuously on the market, and creating a "New Findhorn" teaching center. see Book Excerpts  

Also in the 1980s to early 1990s, an amazing dining addition to the place unfolded. Certified French chef Serge Margot, wanting to simplify his life after having run a ritzy restaurant in the Bay Area (and working in Paris before), moved up into the region. He'd discovered the Springs restaurant building built by Goodpastures going begging. It was as if it was just waiting for him to rescue it. He signed lease in a heartbeat and was soon delighting gourmets everywhere. The place became an instant destination for fancy dining, sometimes serving over a hundred for Sunday brunch. (Writer was lucky enough to enjoy one of his delicious veggie sandwiches during his first visit to Springs for a sweat ceremony.)

It's unknown how long it lasted or why such a solid addition to the place ended (even if far from a plant-based focus as would befit any genuine, radical-healing place). Possibly it was the inability to find the right management for the Springs as a whole. Or maybe Foggy had tried upping the lease into the stratosphere on the wings of the operation's roaring success. Anyway, the building soon reverted to its accustomed forlorn, empty-building status.      For more on Serge's phenomenal restaurant, see Jenny Coyle's newspaper article.

Despite such extraordinary happenings at the Springs, the overall trajectory of place was still downhill, there not being enough abiding positivity to keep negativity from eclipsing and dominating the scene over the long run. Too often, perhaps for there being no real effort by the owner to make the place a spiritual healing sanctuary, the visitors it attracted could seem more interested in hiding out in the country a spell and going on a bender, than in focusing on any silly purifying spa regimen or yoga workshop.*

While some indeed did keep coming to soak and sauna, others simply liked to get drunk off their butts in their rented cabins* -- or nurse a bottle of Jack Daniel's and puff a stogie in the outdoor Jacuzzi then outside the office, thereby neatly accomplishing both at once. Until 2000, ashtrays were scattered throughout the sundeck area -- even directly outside main massage room off the deck, smoke drifting underneath door making getting a healthy, relaxing massage a bit problematic. It seemed all for smokers' convenience, lest, perish the thought, one started feeling too healthy. Rumored but unconfirmed reports of a prostitution ring bust on the grounds would've further scandalized the place.


*As evidenced by the surprising number of hard-liquor empties writer found in the dumpster shed during remedial recycling efforts in the early 2000s when serving as volunteer caretaker/custodian.


Historic trivia: the word 'SPA' was born as an acronym for the Latin phrase Salus Per Aquas, meaning "Health through water".    Who knew?

Local free spirits briefly claimed the place a de facto free hippie summer camp after then-gateless business operations ceased and personnel vanished between legal owners Whitney and Foggy. They were finally ordered off the grounds by an unpleasant ex-Marine packing a sidearm that Foggy had brought in to scare them off. It was felt by those who'd loved place for decades and remembered mellower times that once the Goodpastures had abandoned ship all the carefully built-up good will and loving care and open-minded, progressive spirit were destroyed. (Not unlike now; Springs history seems to be rhyming.)

Iffy times

The place went through scary times of lost vision -- its sterling century-old track record tarnished like silver jewelry left on during a mineral water soak. Things got so bad at one point that a hard-drinking custodian patrolled the grounds at night with his double-barreled shotgun.

It really seemed the place could be either heaven or hell and nothing in between.

(See the second Something about Mary story, in part about the dedicated 1989-2004 family management by cousins Suzy and Mary, mothers Cecee and Pat, respectively, plus longtime bath attendant in-law Linda, married to the sisters' uninvolved brother, Richard.)

Managers under Foggy had their work cut out. They dealt as best they could on an often over-tight budget. Managements over the decades varied approaches from gracious benign neglect and micro-manged no-nonsense with spirited teamwork, to chaotic macro management and near-anarchy with surreally casual hirings and capricious firings. Each according to owner and management intents, awareness, lifestyle, budgetary support, management skill or lack thereof, and, of course, the major wild card, changing times.

Everyone pretty much flew by the seat of their pants in trying to revive the patient and get a new -- and hopefully pro fitable -- handle on the institution, then seeming to be ailing almost as grievously as had young Henry a century and a half earlier.

(History cont'd after sidebar)


Editorial esoterica sidebar

In the metaphysical teaching of cardology, each calendar day has a unique blend of subtle yet pronounced astrological influences. Property officially changed hands January 19 (2016). It was a powerful prosperity day -- on all levels,  not just material, but spiritual and emotional as well. (As it turns out, it's 'birthday' under new legal control was  no less than wild-child powerhouse singers Janice Joplin and Dolly Parton, and, in amazing synchronicity, January 19 (2019) was the re-opening date of Harbin Hot Springs. One might've hoped this would bode well for a new, prosperous, feel-good Springs chapter.

Also, significantly,  Mercury was retrograde at the moment of legal transfer,. Oddly enough, this can reportedly have a positive effect on an existing business, as truth is potentially brought to the fore, giving new owners the chance to correct course and refine the operation.

As time has revealed, this wasn't the case with the latest transfer. The new 'owners' were obviously intent on changing the entire nature of the place to suit their own, semi-private use, one at grievous odds with what had so long been -- in spirit at least if not legally -- a nonprofit charitable healing institution. And if well-centered, forthright, integrated intent was lacking out the gate (there was abundant evidence it was), then uncertain, potentially chaotic and mentally confusing energies can be the inevitable result. (This, of course, being apart from the fact that they utterly betrayed the dedicated, public-minded spirit of the place.)

Planetary influences might thus ultimately serve to make the current ownership a relatively brief one, the seeds of its destruction planted at its very inception.


Stewart Springs History cont'd

It was a steep and rocky climb to try getting even tenuous positive energies back after the place's first unscheduled detour through hell (the second, if including native massacre about grounds). This in part due to putting off countless sorely needed repairs and upgrades until an increased business volume could justify the outlays -- or to avoid lawsuits over unsafe conditions. Example of the latter: before the car bridge was finally rebuilt around 2012, there were planks so rotten that a heavy person could've conceivably jumped down hard at one spot and crashed right through into the creek. The situation was also in part due to the elusive efforts to find fresh management not dragged down by the inertia of place's sometimes-gnarly past, willing to work cheap and roll with absentee steward Foggy's sometimes hard-nosed directives.

Just smelly water, revisited

After the Stewart family's 78-year tenure, spanning from 1875 to 1954, each new legal steward scrambled to re-define the place according to their own lights. Even the most earnest efforts could be hampered by a faster-paced materialistic world that no longer gave much credence to clear water. So little, there wasn't time, interest, or inclination to write any history of the place -- one, again, so vested in such perceived quaint folk cure remedies that it was ignored, if not ridiculed, by more nature-alienated and unenlightened minds.

Crystal Foggy, during her brief general manager tenure along with older sister Astra before deciding it wasn't for her, was interested in the idea of writing some book on the place. She'd recently graduated from San Francisco State University with a masters in international business and had various creative ideas kicking around. They implemented some during few-years tenure, including expanding the office to include a reconfigured gift shop, creating a wellness cabin, adding custom tile design work to the office, bathrooms and changing-room floor, building a new, wider stairway from the sundeck down to the creek -- and the biggie, rebuilding the sauna.


New incarnation of sauna

Before the Foggy sister managers Crystal and Astra flew off to Rio for Carnivale with their brother in winter 2006, they had told contractor John Monk they wanted to have the venerable but badly-aging old sauna torn out and a new, larger one up and running in its stead by the time they got back, a week later. This involved among other things repurposing the space of tub rooms #5 and 6, just beyond to the old sauna, by tearing down walls and building new ones, and LOTS of poured concrete.

Design spun on the fly, a local crew of ten-- including carpenters Ohbe and Lewis, stone mason Tony and electrician Andy -- miraculously manifested it on time, despite working with a foot of fresh-fallen snow on the ground. Crystal (perhaps living up to her name) brought back a large heart-shaped double crystal that was worked into sauna's stone wall behind the wood stove and back-lit for a magical, slowly color-changing accent. (When daily programmed, that is; left to its own devices it soon began to flash like an over-caffeinated neon sign, driving sweaters, hoping to relax, nuts. Perhaps it served as a not-so-subtle giveaway of the underlying over-commercial focus of the operation then.)


Crystal had considered separating the noisy laundry room from the bathhouse as it detracted from soakers achieving any more serene state. At one point, discouraged by ailing infrastructure needing so much money poured into it to bring it up to snuff, writer heard her mutter, "Sometimes I think it'd be easier just to tear the place down an start over."

On the wings of the sudden demise of the longtime manager, Mary Hildebrand, in 2005, things were in too much upheaval with the struggle to regain a grip on basic everyday operation to even think of taking on any such nonessential project like writing a history of the place. See Something about Mary

The curse

Significantly, and closely related to an earlier reason no book was ever written, is an apocryphal American Indian curse -- one apparently attributed to many native-revered mineral springs, and almost certainly to Stewart's -- that white men never profit from the wrested away, sacred healing grounds.

As droll wits pointed out, the curse perhaps wasn't all-inclusive enough, as former 'owner' Mr. Foggy, who was Black, actually started turning decent profits (perhaps for the first time in the long Springs history). Towards the end of his tenure he reportedly cleared over a quarter-million dollars a year. Of course, he'd sporadically plow loads of revenue back into improvements and upkeep, like rebuilding the car bridge, replacing the bathhouse flooring, rebuilding stairways, installing new plumbing, creating new walking bridge below conference hall...

Add together the original White 'owners' the longtime Black remote steward, the former longtime Yellow manager, the new Brown 'co-owners' and, of course, the sweat lodge's and land's prehistoric Red non-owners, and the Springs might appear to be gaining a powerful harmonizing cultural rainbow energy for the most diverse, all-inclusive, global culture to at last flourish sometime in the future.

see New Day Dawning

Tragic Lore: The late renaissance rock star David Crosby's older brother, Ethan, also a guitar musician (who taught David how to play), once worked at Stewart's. He later took his life, as did at least two other then-current or recent Springs employees, plus manager Mary H., all female. (None at the property, small mercy.) The place's violent history influence, maybe?

Curse or no, Mother Nature's protective elemental forces no doubt rebelled whenever man's covetous hopes for a bountiful investment return, trying to cash in on the special waters and natural environs, superseded the desire to serve and heal. Maybe natives, rich in earth wisdom, didn't so much cast a curse as merely point out the obvious. Obsession with accumulating yellow rocks and "dead frog skins" (paper currency) was unhealthy and had inevitable consequences.

However, since there was such a hellacious effort by intolerant settlers, again, possibly stirred up and led by hired railroad guns, to wipe them all out -- as fate would have it, in and around long-established sacred healing ground -- there was undoubtedly a mighty curse cast. As mentioned elsewhere, many believed the angry ghosts of slain warriors served as enforcers by haunting the grounds beyond time, casting dark shadows over the place and seriously crimping potential for healing visitors. (see Ted's story of Charlie Thom's exorcism)

Psychic visitors with the ability to sense the presence of earthbound discarnates reported tuning in to incredibly hostile energies there. One so gifted person, Sequoia, who earlier had to quit a hospital job for all the restless spirits she encountered there, related to often being screamed at to go away during her bathhouse attendant work tenure. (Understandably, she had trouble focusing on work.)

Fast forward and Charlie was considered too sickly a child to bother trying to brainwash in the culture-destroying boarding schools. He was left undisturbed at home to receive the treasure trove of his tribe's wisdom and ways. He would spend his life imparting his knowledge, spirit at one point telling him it was time to share the sacred medicine with all who were respectfully interested. (Some tribal members strongly disapproved; to this day there's been a serious split in Karuk circles -- the new casino in Yreka is the product of those largely NOT approving of his open sharing, nor of Walking Eagle's continuing sacred sweats open to all earnest and respectful to sacred ways of the Red Road regardless of skin color,)

Late revered Karuk medicine man Charlie Thom led an exorcism of ancestral tribe's slain spirits from grounds on request for help from late co-manager Ted Duncan, who was having violent nightmares. Charlie's grandfather and father, then a boy, were spared being massacred only because they were camped further up snake canyon (as they called it) during the hot spell. They heard prolonged gunfire and came down later to witness the massacre's unspeakable aftermath.

see the wonderful story of his life mission.

No interest

Time and effort helped the place get back to some semblance of being healing grounds by more mindful modern-day 'owners.' But as it was long revered sacred land -- a mystical realm where even warring tribe members laid down their weapons and soaked together in temporary truce -- it remains to this day a steep climb to regain anything even remotely approaching the original prehistoric scene -- one dedicated to purification, healing and rejuvenation in profound respect for nature and in complete harmony with it -- before greed and intolerance, the frequent ugly handmaidens of so-called civilization, ever came along. 

Sharing the Misery

There was only a small, modestly paid staff to work through often gnarly winters. Complicating operations further were periodic disasters on the grounds due to only partially winterized plumbing and daunting efforts to keep roads cleared and paths shoveled after periodic deep snowfalls blanketed the land. Also, a serious lack of sunshine in steep alpine canyon after October greatly lowered staff's serotonin levels, further depressing work morale. It was as if the land wanted to hibernate and humans were meddling.

It almost seemed, at lowest moments, that the violent vibration of the grounds' tragic past actually re-surfaced. Then an angry climate prevailed, one with hair-trigger tempers and attitudes of "Why do I even bother? Nobody appreciates my efforts" and "I'm not getting paid near enough for this," among both staff and management alike. Whenever they fell down such holes of despair, feeling overworked and underpaid, then day visitors -- especially overnight guests --,who experienced the resulting indifferent to rough and sketchy treatment reacted with furious disdain, grave disappointment or stupefied disbelief.

It could make for everyone being unhappy campers. see Rants & Raves

Medicine Wheel Slows

Many deemed the tightrope act of management -- trying to balance the place as a healing ground while at the same time attempting to generate maximum profit -- an impossible one. It lent exquisite irony to the old businessman quip, "Well, I'm not in business for my health."

There were dark days, days anyone who experienced them tried to forget. Writer was once threatened with being thrown off covered bridge for trying to politely but firmly enforce the new 'no smoking on bridge' policy to a Nam vet local who had -- as I was suddenly to appreciate -- severe PTSD.

Violent energy could all too easily prevail whenever too few people held an intent to reactivate the place's healing energy, the potentially majestic motion of the land's medicine wheel hampered by any and all over-worldly, covetous owner/management focus.

Is for-profit operation self-defeating

for healing resorts?

Over-focus on turning profit obviously can easily erode any ostensible healing place's potential. In times past, Stewart's management and staff's brisk cordial business surface often masked a callous drive to feed the ever-hungry maw ever more revenue, management possibly incentivized through profit-sharing bonuses if exceeding some annually set financial goal.

All involved could end up compromising their finer natures and personal integrity for the sake of job security, financial reward, free baths, maybe the power trip of helping run such a renowned institution. If so doing, they became the poorer for it. They mortgaged the chance of ever grokking what the place was really all about: healing body and spirit and coming together into harmony with nature and other beings while receiving a soul-enriching blessing from the universe for performing dedicated service.

This is why so many of northwest's most popular mineral spring resorts are set up as nonprofits, like Harbin and Ashland, Oregon's Jackson Wellsprings -- sometimes collectively owned and/or operated, like central Oregon's intentional community Breitenbush. Such setups potentially allows deeper focus, providing more-grounded and heart-centered service, unalloyed by any off-putting, growling profit hunger.

Of course, nonprofit as business model can have its own problems -- like over time possibly experiencing a serious disconnect between the original intent and the current operation, becoming a bureaucratic machine, 

or a cliquish social scene, more dedicated to perpetuating themselves than offering any genuine service. Example: when huge outfit Volunteers of America booked a lavish party junket at Springs in 2001, writer was shocked at the giddy spending from donated funds, including luxuriant terrycloth robe giveaways at a blow-out cheese and wine tasting party in the A-frame -- likely some corporate donor's tax write-off or some such.

That said, the way nonprofit springs keep revenues pegged to actual running costs and building improvement/replacement reserves, rather than running the place to generate wealth, can tend to inspire and empower staff and management to create a more relaxed and nurturing more dedicated to the joy of service and mindfully fostering the increased well being of humanity.Where is this more important than at place existing to purify and heal while offering a natural retreat from the sundry stresses of everyday world?

Barring such a set-up, only with enlightened compassionate capitalism, like Stewart's was early on hoped to have by some with the new 2016 stewardship (scroll down past long editorial), can the place ever excel and unfold greatest that at last is protected from ever again turning into yet another superficial spa for the spiritually challenged and nature alienated, seeking pampering to compensate for having let their higher selves get compromised in uneven playing field's systematic scramble for mammon...or legally seized just to suit some outfit with deep pockets and shallow social conscience.

Though some, like writer, bemoaned the fact that the operation under Foggy wasn't nonprofit like Harbin or collective like Breitenbush, Stewart's came along nicely in some ways during its last years. He had by then at last unlimbered his wallet and lavished many improvements; the place made notable strides beautifying grounds and upgrading facilities while also allowing clothing-optional for its last 16 years.

Nicer grounds can of course foster greater peaceful relaxation and sense of well being. Even if perhaps more motivated by wanting to sell it faster and at a better price, such improvements likely helped those pursuing light work to better tune out any untoward business energies floating about and tune in to the place's original harmonious healing and purifying vibration. (And let better flourish its infectious popularity among the bohemian-friendly.)

Some thought last managers tried as best they could, given the strictly-business directive within 10-year contract to maximize revenue, even amid one's critically failing health, to build a more healing-focused, albeit conventionally-leaning, operation. But, again, it was an impossible tightrope act. A predictable mixed-bag result of miracles and disasters was the inevitable result, completely reflecting the operation's polarized re-posted online rants and raves reviews.

Bottom line: Regardless of financial structure, intent is always the crucial factor. Ironic case in point: the new 'ownership's' Pneuma Institute is a nonprofit. See how much good that did for place.


Clothing-optional: gone with the wind?

More than mild cause for concern among countless now-estranged friends of Stewart Springs had been how the new absentee 'ownership' had so mindlessly junked the long standing clothing-optional policy. Countless instantly found the new mandatory cover-up policy at once laughable, tragic and infuriating.

It went into effect 11-1-16, after 17 years of bathhouse being low-keyly clothing-optional (in sauna, sundeck and creek area, wrapping up in between points).

The ban possibly came about from erroneous perception bred of buttoned-down conservative lifestyle, aided and abetted by possible Machiavellian maneuvers of old manager, that opting freebodies were mostly low-spending wild local hippies, kinky voyeurs and shameless exhibitionists -- obviously bad for business -- rather than in fact representative of a respectable broad cross-section of awakening global humanity that's been mindfully embracing radical body freedom in appropriate public places as a basic human right on our fair planet. 

The truth is, Stewart Springs management never even tried to gain any conscious handle on the inherited clothing-optional policy, as did other regional rural spring resorts permitting simple nudity. (Layout wasn't optimal, besides.) As mentioned elsewhere, past manager Mary finally permitted it, on approval by 'owner' Foggy, but, likely thrown off over office-manager mother's sudden death, she never hammered out a solid policy (and possibly lacked the needed awareness on such a delicate issue to have created one anyhow).

So, all along scene was semi-anarchistic, allowing loads of wiggle room for abuse by any so inclined to ogle (including, mea culpa, writer, in less conscious times) and exhibit themselves, succumbing to the body-objectifying disease of a warped 'culture', rather than lift up consciousness by attuning to higher body-mind-spirit re-integration that simple mindful nudity fosters in a mindful social environment amid nature.


Springs history, concluded)

No time to write

Finally, for some reason it appears few other historic Northwest mineral spring resorts have ever published their stories. Harbin Hot Springs's in-depth book and Breitenbush's modest booklet are the only known exceptions.

To writer's knowledge, neither Orr, Wilbur, Jackson Wellsprings, nor Sierra Hot Springs have ever written their histories in any published form. see Other Resorts  This, though some are older than Stewart's and possibly even richer in lore (and for sure less tragic). Possibly both Orr and Wilbur were stagecoach rest stops in the later 1800s. One wonders if maybe Black Bart liked to unwind with a good mineral soak amid the redwoods at Orr after his latest Wells Fargo stage holdup.

Perhaps it's not so much a mystery after all that there's never been a book written on Stewart Springs.

With ongoing operations, in it for long haul, mineral spring resorts' focus is, of necessity, kept on the present and future to stay on top of things and work at constant fine-tuning. No time to divert limited energies trying to unearth and make sense of some elusive vanished past.

More's the pity, maybe. As every conscious being knows (and writer reminds self), past, present and future are all one on the spiritual plane -- each constantly influencing the others in myriad ways.

Knowing the place's past, its beginnings and evolution, can allow visitors a fuller appreciation and keener enjoyment...and give any more aware stewards a foundation of understanding for charting viable new projects to further the place in ways allowing visitors to better experience the potential healing affects of the portal.

Beyond the often dreary human politics of the place and, especially, the current shocking private (and hopefully temporary) development -- inhibiting visitors from becoming any more one with realm's wild healing properties -- one listening closely could hear the land's timeless history in the rushing of the creek and the wind through the trees.


Editorial addendum

It's perfect after all

Seventy-eight years under the Stewarts' dedicated care and over 65 years under various other land stewards

Mendera and spirited Mexican-American> 

crew's new bridge  near A-frame

since -- each with different visions and intents creating varied land improvements, all overlays on original pre-historic use as sacred healing ground -- have made for the grand crazy-quilt rustic springs operation we have today.

Disregarding the unfortunate and misguided notions any new 'ownership' might harbor to re-purpose or privatize place, no matter what man attempts to do to the realm it remains perfect in its exquisite jewel of sacred ground and healing waters that have drawn people for centuries, formerly for free, now for coin of realm, to heal, rejuvenate, and, not infrequently, connect with kindred spirits amid glad tidings of nature in the optimally relaxed way that mindfully losing one's clothes can so magically foster.

Even when place loses its way and jumps down a rabbit hole of grossly inappropriate ventures like now, on crucial level the mystic realm's supernatural powers ALWAYS transcend any human-use intent.

With new 'ownership' connected to apparent spiritual and quasi-spiritual organizations and earth's vibrational frequency increasing, one would've naturally hoped that the medicine wheel of the sacred land would now be gathering serious new momentum.

That instead it's regressing further away under self-interested, private-minded intent doesn't mean it can't bounce back in the future.

Either new 'ownership's' hearts will melt or, barring that seeming unlikelihood (writer sgive hundred to one odds against), they run place into ground until Infinite Spirit eventually foils wonky intentions to wrest healing lands away from the people.

Then they'll throw in towel, maybe redeeming selves and ultimate Springs legacy by finding and selling place at fair price to one or group who will gladly honor restoring land to former ways of culturally-diverse, open-minded ways, ideally as perennially protected, nonprofit operation.

One to be enjoyed by all on mindful paths, as land merrily resonates with the grand, albeit fitful, rebirth of our little blue ball whirling through space.

The place deserves no less.

During those purple haze days the Springs enjoyed a renaissance of sorts, becoming something of an earthly paradise by all accounts of longtime bohemian-minded locals. An upbeat steward-resident family graciously hosted visitors to immaculate grounds, zenned-out bathhouse operation and plentiful natural food in the grounds restaurant they'd built, at friendly prices. They did the same in the City of Mt. Shasta, building another restaurant there, one sporting a soaring, open-beam ceiling and diagonal, rough sawn 1X4" cedar board walls that later became Lalo's Mexican food restaurant. (see first story of New Tales from Stewart Springs)

The revered Karuk medicine man Charlie Thom asked, or was invited, to hold regular full-moon sacred sweat lodge ceremonies. A spot was chosen just above the bathhouse, thus beginning a tradition that lasted some 45 years. Eventually it became a weekly Saturday sweat -- until December 2017, when the present absentee stewardship effectively told them to leave, saying both that they had their own medicine man and claiming otherwise prohibitive fire/liability rider would be tacked onto new insurance policy the lodge couldn't begin to (or want to) cover.*

* Likely it was the unfortunate tragedy in a non-native, new-agey, plastic-wrapped 'sweat lodge' outside Sedona, Arizona some years earlier that led insurance companies to skyrocket liability coverage for any business operation that included a sweat lodge ceremony open to the public. 

see Emilie Frank's article, part 3. Also Goodpasture daughter Sandy'stributeto brother's restaurant operation. Alsorestaurant newsletter

There wasn't a car bridge much (any?) of the time. Everyone parked on the upper road and approached the bathhouse across the covered foot bridge with log foundation support that spanned Parks Creek and was once known as Angels Bridge. Carol sometimes greeted newcomers there with cup of cold mineral water to drink and start the healing regimen if one could accept the mild sulfur taste. (Drinking mineral water was traditionally deemed equally important as immersing in the waters and breathing it in as steam.)

What was until about 2014 the main bathhouse parking area back then offered inviting grass for clothing-optional sunbathing and picnicking.*


* Unknown if any low-key body freedom was afoot there earlier, especially in the years following late 1929, when nudism as part of a new radical lifestyle movement reached American shores from Germany. Called the Natural Man movement and predecessor to late 1960's advent of counterculture, it began at the start of the last century. Besides radical body freedom, it promoted mineral water soaking, sauna-ing and steaming, hiking in wilds, rural living, raw food diet, draft and public school resistance, loose-fitting clothes, communalism and feminism, all of which the '60s countercultural movement would resurrect with a passion on a global level).

The Whitneys:

further decline

of Stewart Springs

To the degree that remote stewards, managers, workers -- visitors, too -- didn't attune to the sacred power of land and waters, then the region's medicine wheel slowed down. Too much for most to appreciate or even recognize its existence and timeless potential for healing. Or want to write about it. Not beyond occasional newspaper articles, like the thoughtful mid-1970s series by Emilie Frank that were for decades preserved on yellowed wall plaques on the bathhouse lobby and restaurant walls. It painted a vivid picture of place during the 

renaissance Goodpasture years of the 1970s for visitors, reminding everyone of the jewel -- diamond in the rough -- that the place was -- and remains.

Viva la musica

During more together times, the healing retreat land hosted repeated popular gatherings, workshops and music events. A bevy of regional and visiting healing musicians, recording artists, and entertainers graced Springs over the years -- Eric Bergland, Matisha, Kathy Zavada, Carolyn Hedger, and Anton Miserak among them. Some event organizers (not all musical) would go on to greater renown, like best-selling author Gary Zukav ('The Seat of the Soul') and peace troubadour/author/film producer James Twyman (performed at the United Nations).

The region is so rich in musically transcendent talent and Stewart Springs such a natural locale for people far and wide to enjoy them in its nature-rich, healing atmosphere, The place's current 'ownership, of course, is light years away from enabling any continued cultural coming together of the wider community on the now private-minded grounds (as is currently done at hour-away Jackson Wellsprings in northern outskirts of Ashland, Oregon.)

(History cont'd after long sidebar)


Fair warning: another long, opinionated aside follows

For-profit vs.

nonprofit operation;

plus, dread clothing-optional ban


One would've hoped new management might've resurrected the policy once seeing the light, how such simple nudity worked hand-in-glove with the healing oasis when working to raise the consciousness of such a clothing-optional scene -- as, again, had virtually every other more popular regional rural mineral springs resort in the greater northwest US.

That is, unless, to more cynical thinking, new 'owners' banned it, along with sweat lodge, heedlessly alienating the old customer base, just to privatize the place to suit their own, inappropriate use of the grounds...

...and the public be damned.

Some returning visitors, not knowing what had triggered such a drastic policy change, only being told lamely that it was to make things "more comfortable for everyone", understandably saw it as a surreal throwback to enforced body shame that so many had come to Springs in good part to get away from.

Prayer had been that ownership would reconsider, before finally realizing they were dead-set against it (and pretty indifferent to spa operation on any level as well, as time revealed).

Again, being involved with seeming spiritual organization Incarre that claims dedication to "re-integrating body-mind-spirit on profoundly higher levels", one would've reasonably thought that 'ownership' would realize how simple mindful nudity was a ridiculously effective and easily implemented tool towards realizing that very aim. Obviously there was a glaring, exasperating disconnect somewhere between touted aims and actual actions.

Sounds like it was all talk. Mere sizzle, a calculated selling point for enrolling people in long pricey workshops. Why allow people the opportunity to experience dramatic, affordable healing while incorporating simple mindful nudity, so liberating and re-integrative of mind-body-spirit in course of bathhouse visit, and thus have less need for such pricey, long-term psychotherapy in the first place?

That could be bad for business.

It'd make their shtick look more than a tad superfluous. Get rid of unfair competition that made them feel uneasy, making energies too liberated to keep an iron handle on any visitors to 'their' new acquisition. It was essentially the same self-interested energy that refused to recognize the startling efficacy of medical cannabis in treating a host of diseases, while so many respectable mad-scientist pharmaceuticals are on the scene sucking up life savings by pushing their sometimes truly dangerous drugs. (Ever notice how many of their miracle products' endless legal disclaimers end with "May cause death"? It's chilling)

more on c/o issue here, there and everywhere

In contrast, perhaps the only real danger of excessive nude sunbathing is, at worst, risking skin cancer later down the road. And admittedly, it's easier burning your butt on a hot sauna bench. Can't think how skinnydipping could be dangerous, though, unless getting so used to it that one risks a hassle at other public places if trying to further practice such readily accustomed to body freedom.


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