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Mystery of the

Missing Book

a sideways look at

Stewart

Springs History

by Stuart R. Ward

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

"If you would understand anything, observe its

beginning and its development." -- Aristotle


"...the past is never truly past...it 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, scraps of history that were unearthed are shared here, for a crazy-quilt journey through Stewart Springs's elusive past -- a most singular, circuitous one, sometimes tragic -- that, for better or worse, has led 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 seemed 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 place...a venerated, powerful healing realm now under occupation by woefully inappropriate, private-minded interests.

Few Written Records

For starters, in the early 1850s the far west was still extremely remote. That was when Henry Stewart, in grave circumstances, was brought up to the Springs to heal by the local natives, who took pity on him. (More on this later.) 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 even a half-way thorough history of the Springs. 

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 believed only offspring, Stewart Lloyd, a year after her husband, in 1941, likely a World War !! casualty. Maybe she'd been thinking of retiring anyhow, and had hoped her son would carry on the place. In any event, she'd divest of the place in the early 1950s.

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 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. (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 realm 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 III (1914-1961) grandson of steamship and railroad robber baron Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877), was interested in spas and living in the area. After the fire, he offered Katy pots of gold for the 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 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.) He called the 1,500 acre estate Shadow Valley Ranch.

 

In the 1950s and 1960s, he 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 at specially arranged off-hour times, 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 disagreeable man. (He later appeared to commit suicide at age 46, in San Francisco.)

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 or shame over the hell-bent campaign during 1870's national peak of racial/cultural intolerance (time of 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 healing for time untold, a place where even warring tribal members had 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 all 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. (The Springs' later Karuk medicine man Charlie Thom's father and grandfather survived only for being safely camped upcreek at the time.)

It's likely Henry got wind of the extermination plan, and, while refusing to have anything to do with it, he 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, once reaching their sanctuary land; King's Xes), and reportedly to 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 very likely saved his life. In any event, the ensuing horrific slaughter around the current resort grounds cast long deep shadows over the once peaceful sacred grounds.

It's just water,

and the long 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 obviously pure poppycock, shameless attempts to fleece a gullible public and divert them from their own 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 more determined, rural-friendly souls. It got paved when it did only due to a county supervisor's efforts after his ailing son appeared to be 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, far 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 critical 28-year period

Once the place left the dedicated Stewart family hands of 78 years, from 1876 to 1954, there was a frequent turnover of Springs stewards leading up to 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 (very 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 an elusive treasure trove of diary journals buried and forgotten in the bottom of some attic trunk in Eerie, Pennsylvania or gathering dust in Smithsonian's vast basement storage acreage. (There's only room to publicly display one percent of the holdings of "America's Attic" at a time.)

 

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 an elusive treasure trove of diary journals buried and forgotten in the bottom of some attic trunk in Eerie, Pennsylvania or gathering dust in Smithsonian's vast basement storage acreage. (There's only room to publicly display one percent of the holdings of "America's Attic" at a time.)

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 could crimp a fuller healing experience by visitors. It has no doubt directly contributed to the unfortunate tendency of various historic legal stewards to get wildly offtrack with inappropriate operational schemes and dreams, which in turn hindered both the accessibility and ability of visitors to tap into the realm's inherently powerful purification, healing and rejuvenation properties.

 

Spring purists hold that pursuing any monetized and/or private-minded use of the land results not only in straitjacketing its potential to benefit a 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.)

 

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, California Scottish Rite Masonic Lodge, recipient of her largess, took over operations, thus ending an 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 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.

image_edited.png

 

She, like her father, no doubt believed it essential that operation of one of earth's more powerful healing spots be kept simple, affordable and service-oriented for any and all who might drive up the hill seeking the land's special restorative powers.

 

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

 

 

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

 

For the place was never about making money. It was a rare public-spirited endeavor. One dedicated to providing affordable natural purification, healing and rejuvenation as an altruistic service to a weary humanity.

 

It was essentially a public trust, a love-of-service, nonprofit-in-spirit enterprise devoted to enabling city-choked travelers and locals to purify, heal and rejuvenate in its accessible wild nature, roughing it with only basic amenities provided while focusing on detoxing, unwinding and healing Mother Nature's simple 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 legal steward, John Foggy

With the Sacramento masons running the retreat from 1954 to 1969, lodge member couples drawn to the place themselves benefited from water treatments while living on the grounds and managing the then seven-month operating 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 in 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 the masons, the following Weed investors or the Goodpastures.) Such lodging expansions enabled more to enjoy extended stays to better benefit by 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 Katy 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 the later-added concrete landing pad...39 steps.

Weed Consortium

Follow 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 a fitful visitor stream, and/or managers got cabin fever and wanted to

<  Grounds' A-frame group lodging,

built with NFL earnings

move on finally and no replacements could be found.

 

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

Pilon (both of whom died about 2011), and their head, former NFL football star Aaron Thomas, Jr. (Still kicking in Grants Pass,Oregon as of November 2023). 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 a 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: to forever keep the place a simple affordable retreat, dedicated to healing under Masonic protection, said promise tendered as a condition for gifting them the land and operation.

 

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 turning the place into a football training camp. (As not too far away, now 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 then earned extra money fishing out and returning errant throws that had bobbed their way into their onion fields.)

After 78 years of earnest, straightforward dedication of offering healing and refuge under the Stewarts, plus another 15 of what might be called dedication-lite by the Masons, things suddenly got on mighty shaky ground.

image_edited.jpg

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

 

This action, perhaps until recently more than anything since the land became privately 'owned', served to hamstring the healing potential of the spa operation to continue  serving the greater good.

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 carved out 10 acres. To this day it remains a legally separate parcel from the main 20+ acre chunk, though so far 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, vaguely appearing as the Springs gatehouse or maybe the 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 the 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 differing 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 (likely by Cap, a one-time Green Springs caretaker and perennial Karuk sweatlodge member) -- 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's co-founder, Peter Caddy. Having moved on from his Scotland adventure and remarried, he was interested in setting up a new kind of Findhorn, very possibly at Stewart Springs (then tenuously on the market, if at a likely prohibitively speculative price). It would've become a teaching and retreat center of sorts. His group actually held workshop conferences on the grounds. For reasons uncertain, the plans never panned out. see Book Excerpts

The Stewart family's focused intent to keep the place simple, nonprofit and dedicated to affordable natural healing and rejuvenation as an altruistic public service -- a focus apparently more or less honored by the masons as long as they ran it -- faded like a rose cut from its life-giving roots the instant they (apparently) abdicated their trust by selling it to businessmen with little seeming understanding or regard for the place's extraordinary legacy. Not enough to want to assure it was continued, anyhow.

It's an everlasting pity the masons couldn't have taken the time to find more suitable buyers, ones who'd naturally want to keep alive the dedicated focus of honoring the land 

It's likewise uncertain why the three Weed businessmen didn't make a longer go of it than their 19 month run. Maybe they'd snapped up the place cheap as a bargain they couldn't resist but then could never decide what to do with it in the long run. Not beyond making speculative improvements and 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 each go their own way to tackle new financial ventures.

 

They could maybe never all agree in what direction to take the place, and, lacking one mind, it finally became easiest to simply give up the one-time, by then rudderless, healing realm, as had the masons. 

by running a good-karma, public-friendly, break-even service...rather than going off the deep end with inappropriate diversionary trips, copping the mundane attitude of, "Well, it's our property now, so we can do with it whatever we want...wow, the possibilities!"

What became known as the Cottage, perched above apartment row #1-6 up from the restaurant, was possibly built by the third member and kept within the main central parcel. Maybe its resident had agreed 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, sitting as it is right above the seasonally thundering creek.
 

In any event, on the subtle plane, again, such divisive parceling out of the original retreat parcel might've been seen as seriously handicapping the spirit of the land and oneness of operation so long provided by the Stewarts for any more holistic enjoyment of the realm by your more psychically attuned, awakened or sensitive sojourner.

It's fairly safe to assume that 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 any mineral spa retreat per se, lodging becoming the central attraction through their building five hillside rental cabins.

 

Maybe one or more had come to feel a bit guilty for breaking up the tea set, as it were, though, remembering that the place had long been a historic operation and thinking it maybe deserved to be kept going somehow by parties that could actually get into running a rural healing spa retreat as had the founding family for 78 years.

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

He had no doubt started the Springs retreat as something of a relaxing, feel-good semi-retirement gig while enabling living closer to nature again after moving uphill from his property in Edgewood...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 at the springs. His daughter and her husband appeared to hold the same attitude of gratitude, wanting to share the healing gift of the land with the wider public. They'd likewise dedicated themselves to serving an ailing humanity by offering a simple, nourishing retreat in a quiet, unassuming manner, amid the restorative quietude of nature's rare healing attributes.

Again, maybe over time the Sacramento Scottish Rite masons had come to feel overburdened being saddled with such a remote operation started by the fellow mason of Scottish descent (Hoot, mon). Possibly it had  become something of a white elephant, sapping the lodge's energy, focus and funds...and, again, they wanted to be shut of it after the latest caretakers/operators burned out seaonally living at the remote location and no new recruits could be found (or maybe even sought).
 

Possibly the masonic members who had reportedly made the solemn promise to Katy Stewart had by then died or retired...and the current heads didn't seem to feel the same solemn duty 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 remain locked, in perpetuity, into offering a healing-service retreat for humanity.

 

One wonders if she or her British-American husband ever considered making the place a legal nonprofit service operation -- or at least encouraged the incoming masons to pursue such a change -- in order to lock its high-minded operation into permanent protection, guaranteeing the healing realm would thus forever remain dedicated to serving humankind and never be diverted for any other use. But maybe she'd thought such a legal move unnecessary. It was an age when one's word was their sacred bond; there was no need to pay some high-priced lawyer for a convoluted paper chase...one that would've likely required spelling out in exacting, restrictive terms how to run what had always been a super relaxed down-home operation.

 

Or, again, being practical businessmen, maybe they'd all simply agreed beforehand to flip it after a certain time and so 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, has come the closest to honoring the land and resurrecting its original love-of-service spirit and focus on fostering the well being of every visitor who might stumble onto the place.

The 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'd felt guided to the place. They'd call the A-frame their new home. (Unknown if they ever felt unaccountable urges to watch NFL games.)

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 that they built, at friendly prices. They did the same in the City of Mt. Shasta, building a second restaurant there, one sporting a soaring, open-beam ceiling and diagonal, rough sawn 1X4" cedar board walls. (It later became Lalo's Mexican restaurant.) (see first story of New Tales from Stewart Springs) Their adopted daughter, Elizabeth, told writer they'd overextended themselves financially with the second building, and it became the beginning of the end of their family stewardship.

 

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

* Likely it was the unfortunate tragedy, resulting in pricey lawsuits, in a non-native, new-agey, plastic-wrapped 'sweat lodge' event 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 stacked-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 thus start the healing regimen -- if one could accept the mild sulfur taste. (Drinking mineral water was traditionally deemed as 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 low key 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 first reached American shores from Germany. Called the Natural Man movement and predecessor to the late 1960's advent of the hippie 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 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 getting 'sold' to a couple, the Whitneys, who either didn't appreciate the treasure, know how to care for it, and/or seriously lacked the 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?

The Whitneys:

the further decline of 

Stewart Springs

Pure speculation by a native San Franciscan here, but... one might wonder 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 sprawling, marble-floored realm, by then converted to an ice rink, 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 yet 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 one point to cover the looming hefty balance. In any event, they finally snagged a last-minute investment loan from San Francisco entrepreneur John Foggy.

With the Whitneys using the place for collateral, Foggy no doubt sensed a potential business opportunity if they defaulted, and it must've seemed probable that they would.

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

Foggy then promptly snapped up the property at a county auction for the $20,000 back-taxes, interest, 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 persistent rural legends how he cunningly picked the place up for a song in a county courthouse steps auction, 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 long absentee 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 both 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.

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Stewart returned East during American Civil War years in the first half of the 1860s. (Undetermined whether or not he enlisted, as many Henry Stewarts of Pennsylvania did.) But he came back in the 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.

Decades 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 to be a viable healing retreat...that is, unless and until such karma's fully erased by a full-tilt, long-term dedication to once again provide a 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 ever trying to make the retreat a cash cow, happy to break even or even subsidize operation costs a bit, he and his family between themselves dedicated 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, again, became the fifth post-Stewart family (and first absentee) steward, for some 34 years. He had likely never before dealt with such an operation...one whose bottom line -- original reason for being, even -- was not to generate a profit, but, rather, offer affordable purifying, healing and retreating as a public benefit service. While the two post-Stewart stewardships before him had tried making a go of things, the operation was yet worlds away from ever gaining 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 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 take it further from the original spirit of Stewart's good-karma enterprise, he accepted the proposal of the extended local family who approached him. Primarily composed of sisters Pat and Cece and their respective daughters, Mary and Susie, they believed in the place so much they were willing to work for peanuts to try to reactivate its original dedicated healing focus and spirit of genuine service. 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 efforts in which the ideal was blunted by Foggy's constant badgering them to churn out ever greater returns. (see more of their story  along with writer's involvement, in 'Me and Mary and Stewart Springs'.)

 

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

A future Frommers Guide would call the place "...one 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, an unlikely mix of being, first,  indigenous peoples' sacred sanctuary land, then a site of an unspeakable massacre, then the partial redemption by a pioneer family, and, finally, varying degrees of inappropriate-use diversions and/or over-commercial focus by most future stewards among the few trying to keep the land's healing spirit alive.

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 sort of 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, long keeping banker hours year round, was closed.

 

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Side Story

Iconic, Ironic Fort Entrance

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One dramatic change: building the wooden faux fort entrance that to this day yet 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, maybe 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 and old west pioneer 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 been left vulnerable.

The entrance stands as supreme irony on at least 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, determined to exterminate them. Some, especially Native Americans, have likely viewed 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 has been 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.)"

 

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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 hard-nosed directives, of course. He told them that since he lived so far away and seldom visited, they should act as if they owned the place, in order to gain the best sense of what needed to be done to improve it and increase business. Of course, any illusion of 'owning' could clash with reality as the place often straggled by under a fitful, small staff 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 once made a ridiculously low counter-offer on the place -- reportedly $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 of spaghetti.)

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, displaying pronounced proprietary airs. (Absentee stewards, it seems, could 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 by proxy.)

 

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

 
 

 

Warning: Long, rambling, opinionated sidebar ahead.

Scroll past if of little or no interest.

 

New, wildly inappropriate 'ownership' focus

Will place ever get it right again?

 

As mentioned, vague rumors of new stewards were rife over decades, resulting every time some officious new front desk manager appeared, bristling with authority. 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, 

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 a far piece.) 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 follow rigorously, no questions asked:

make management decisions 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 just too weird and discomforting a reality to want to even try to wrap one's mind around.

As most everyone knows by now, the Springs got its first new 'owners' in ages when legal title was transferred in early 2016. Individual names are unknown to writer (which fact speaks volumes over concern for transparency and public relations).

"I'm listening"

L​ong before the sale to the new 'owners', a hidden microphone had been planted in the office by old management. It was apparently done, among other reasons like security, to try nipping in the bud any staff members daring to grumble about Foggy's sometimes heavy-handed marching orders, enacted by management. The 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, as it were, if so inclined, commiserating with dumbfounded longtime visitors, without suffering dire consequences, once the sea-level operational changes proceeded in gutting the former spirit of the place. 

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...okay (something's definitely fishy here, but hell, it's a paycheck...)

At least one office worker was fired as a result. (She had planned to quit anyhow, unwilling to any longer be part of such a dispiriting 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 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 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 suddenly, surreally, taken over the place. The same basic thing 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. The Pollyanna in the writer optimistically hoped it would be seen by the new stewards as the golden opportunity to redeem the legacy of the pioneer founding family and further re-activate the healing potential of the realm as a genuine public-minded service. The new ostensible stewardship was, after all, at least nominally involved in a quasi-spiritual field, and before the sale 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 cinch the sale and keep the natives from rebelling until she was safely out of the picture, or, if true, maybe she herself was naive enough (or possibly so distracted by the handsome 10% broker commission in the offing) that she took them at their word. 

In any event, it seemed the opportune 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 (if still modest) cultural healing center -- locally, nationally, globally.

Ceramic figurine once gracing a stone in the pound below the restaurant.

Sadly, time proved the latest absentee stewards were actually light years away from ever being even the least bit interested in keeping the place "just the way it was." They'd apparently only been biding their time, all the while patiently spinning grandiose, private-minded, wildly diversionary plans. Soon enough they'd prove their intent to SERIOUSLY change the operation, essentially re-purposing the entire grounds just to suit their own conservative organization's particular shtick.

The early apparent aim: revamp the visitor base to Spring-unsavvy traffic (for a while), to help support  the outfit's psychoanalytical dedication, the public effectively defraying their 'rental' costs to have the place also serve as 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 little private Shangri-la.

Forget any altruistic aim to further provide the public with a dedicated, affordable mineral spa and simple lodging for longer enjoyment and benefit amid the healing natural elements. And then, finally, forget the spa, too. Some former devotees called their shocking public divestment action nothing less than a crime against humanity.

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

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

One might've thought that over $26,000 a year in county property taxes alone to scrape together would've provided incentive enough to stick with the proven formula that was so 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, and maybe have a few outside groups they could tolerate awhile subsidize their private shtick, sans spa service. So they blew off the huge bohemian-leaning base, whose support, as said, 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 they intended all along to morph the place into serving their own thing first and foremost, seemingly indifferent to the global public's profoundly deep affection for it, and were resigned to the high 'rent' as the price to pay for derailing the place's longtime spa dedication to suit their own purposes. They were apparently willing to accept becoming seen as unspeakably dastardly villains and even possibly live with the place being 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, losing serious momentum ever since the sale, finally ground to a screeching halt. They'd thrown a boxful of monkey wrenches into it by kicking out the open-to-the-public sweat lodge and erasing the springs gazebo's love and prayer offering altar...and, a year earlier, scrapping the old-management unsupported but 'owner'-okayed clothing-optional policy of a generation's standing.

No surprise, the former high visitor volume tanked overnight.

Prayers are for an appropriate future stewardship to rescue the realm after the failure of the current absentee one to try to change the place into some private-minded, psycho-therapeutic, quasi new-age scene overlaid with organized religion-- one that, in so many ways, can't even BEGIN to hold a candle to Mother Earth's simple, effective way of reintegrating and uplifting humanity's collective body, mind and spirit. (One of the ostensible central goals of Pneuma...ahem.)

The actions are obviously too bizarre for words. It's an ill-conceived effort that time might well 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 legally sets up the place as a charitable nonprofit operation in perpetuity, as was 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 possible future inappropriate notions of any would-be 'ownership' from ever again trying to co-opt the place and run it in variance of its noble tradition: dedication to providing humanity with natural, affordable purifying, healing, and rejuvenating amid the glad tidings of nature.

So-inclined former fans of the place are bestirring imaginations, while holding the energy of the realm...visualizing new benefactors...ones both conscious and affluent enough to afford to 'buy' the place once the current remote stewards finally throw in the towel, thus enabling Springs to once again become a good-karma operation...brainstorming ways the regional community could again plug into the place, volunteering individuals' diverse talents, ideas and resources...at long last making the place everybody's baby...maybe even forming an action and research group as Friends of Stewart Springs, with the express purpose of attracting such a benefactor or gaining a purchase grant from one like MacKenzie Scott. Anyone reading this who knows someone who might be interested in becoming a benefactor to untold thousands by purchasing the place and then letting a core of dedicated Spring aficionados and those with knowledge of how to run a successful nonprofit operation do their thing might encourage them to scope this site.

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 mineral spring water spa resorts, still busy rebuilding after its devastating 2015 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 maybe at play here?

Ball dropped

in the early 1980s

 

 

 

 

(Stewart Springs History, cont'd)

As noted, the clueless Whitney couple before Foggy had let place go to wrack and ruin during their short, 20 month tenure -- a state it seemed to take decades to recover from. Some who remember the halcyon Goodpasture days, or the euphoric millennium-fever times, might've said it was still struggling to recover when the latest 'stewards' grievously turned back the clock and threw everything out of whack.

Of course, the Goodpasture reign was during blissful times, what some saw as no less than the massive first flushes of humanity's latest cycle of spiritual re-awakening, one replete with giddy possibilities by Boomers, after their parents had ratcheted down to survival mode through the incredibly dark and violent times of World War 2.

Far easier to build positive energy flows with the spiritual bar set so incredibly low. Some held that the early '60s 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, a new millennium. Out with the old -- or, in this case, off with the old.

see home page also rants & raves

 

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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.

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*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.)

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Findhorn's Peter Caddy and

French Chef Serge Margot discover the 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, as mentioned, 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.. see Book Excerpts  

Also in the 1980s and 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 closed up and going begging.

 

It was as if it was just waiting for him to rescue it. He signed a 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 in 1983 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 reporter Jenny Coyle's newspaper article.

Despite such extraordinary happenings at the Springs, the overall trajectory of place appeared overall to be downhill, there not being enough abiding positivity to keep negativity from eclipsing and dominating the scene in the long run. Too often, perhaps for there being no real effort by the absentee steward to fully return the place to serving as a healing sanctuary, some 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 back 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 the  modest main massage room off the sundeck, smoke drifting underneath door making getting a healthy, relaxing massage a bit problematic. It seemed it was for smokers' convenience lest, perish the thought, one started feeling too healthy. Rumored but unconfirmed reports of a prostitution ring bust on the grounds might've further eroded the place's former, worlds more dedicated, steward focus.

_______________________

*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.

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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 the 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 brought in to scare them away. It was felt by those who'd loved place for decades and remembered mellower times that once the Goodpastures abandoned ship all the carefully built-up good will and loving care and open-minded, progressive spirit was erased. (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, a hard-drinking custodian patrolled the grounds at night with a double-barreled shotgun.

 

It really seemed the place could be either heaven or hell and precious little 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.)

Managers under Foggy had their work cut out. They dealt as best they could on an often too-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, that 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 -- hopefully profitable -- handle on the institution then seeming to be ailing almost as grievously as had young Henry Stewart a century and a half earlier.

 

(History cont'd after sidebar)

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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 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 betrayed the (fitfully) dedicated, public-minded spirit of the place.)

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

 

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It was a steep and rocky climb to try getting even a tenuous positive energies back after the place's first unscheduled detour through hell (the second, if including the 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 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 on one certain spot and crashed right through into the creek. The situation was also in part due to the elusive efforts to find fresh management that wasn't 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 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, unenlightened minds.

New sauna incarnation

Before the Foggy sister managers Crystal and Astra flew off to Rio for Carnivale with their brother in winter 2006, they 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 the 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 a bit nuts. Perhaps it served as a not-so-subtle reminder of the perhaps over-commercial focus of the operation at that time.)

_________________________

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, there 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.

 

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."

As droll wits pointed out, the curse wasn't all-inclusive enough, as former 'owner' Mr. Foggy, who was Black, actually started turning a decent profit (perhaps for the first time in the long Springs history). Towards the end of his tenure, he reportedly grossed 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' with 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 to make for the most diverse, all-inclusive, global culture to flourish in the future. The realm belongs to one race: the human race.

see New Day Dawning

 

Tragic Lore: The older brother of late renaissance rock star David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young,, Ethan -- also a guitar musician (who'd 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 any desire to serve and heal and honor the land. Maybe natives, rich in earth wisdom, didn't so much cast a curse as merely point out the obvious. Obsession with accumulating yellow stones and "dead frog skins" (paper currency) and separating oneself from living in harmony with nature was unhealthy and had inevitable consequences.

However, since there was such a hellacious effort by intolerant settlers, again, possibly stirred up and led on by hired railroad guns, to wipe them all out -- as fate would have it, in and around long-established sacred healing ground -- there undoubtedly was one 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 medicine man 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, told the writer how she was 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 a serious split in Karuk circles -- the new casino in Yreka is perhaps 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 race,)

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 summer season. They heard prolonged gunfire and came down later to witness the massacre's unspeakable aftermath.

see the story of his life mission.

No interest

Time and effort helped the place get back to some semblance of being a healing grounds by more mindful, modern-day stewards. 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, with a profound respect for nature and in complete harmony with it -- before greed and intolerance, frequent ugly handmaidens of so-called civilization, 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 having only partially winterized the 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 the steep alpine canyon after October greatly lowered the staff's serotonin levels, further depressing work morale. It was as if the land wanted to hibernate and humans were only meddling.

It almost seemed, at lowest moments, that the violent vibration of the grounds' tragic past 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 anywhere near enough for this" among staff and management alike. Whenever they fell down such holes of despair, feeling overworked and underpaid, day visitors -- especially overnight guests who'd experience the resulting indifferent to rough and sketchy treatment -- variously reacted with furious disdain, grave disappointment or stupefied disbelief.

It could make for everyone being unhappy campers.

see 20 years of online review reposts and excerpts in Review Rants & Raves

 

Stewart Springs History, cont'd

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 a 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 and enlarging the sauna.

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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 ever greater 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 made to appreciate -- severe PTSD.

 

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

To the degree that remote stewards, managers, workers -- visitors, too -- didn't attune to the sacred power of the land and waters,the region's medicine wheel slowed. Too much for most to appreciate or even recognize its existence and timeless potential for powerful 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 the 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 the 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 (once performed at the United Nations).

The region is so rich in musically transcendent talent. and Stewart Springs is such a rare amplifier of such artistic creations in which people might enjoy them in its nature-rich environment. The place's current 'ownership' appears light years away from enabling any such continued cultural coming together of the wider global community on their now private-minded grounds, as is currently done at hour-away Jackson Wellsprings in northern outskirts of Ashland, Oregon.

 

(History cont'd after sidebar)

_________________________

 

yet another aside...

 

For-profit vs.

nonprofit operation;

plus, dread clothing-optional ban

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 of gobbling up 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, and maybe the power trip of helping run such a renowned institution. In so doing, they became all the poorer for it. They mortgaged the chance of ever grokking what the place was about: healing body and spirit and coming together in harmony with nature and others while receiving a soul-enriching blessing from the universe for performing dedicated services aiding the greater good.

Is for-profit operation self-defeating

for healing resorts?

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

Or a cliquish social scene more dedicated to perpetuating themselves than offering any genuine focused service. Example: when the huge outfit Volunteers of America booked a lavish party junket at the 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 a 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 with maximizing revenue always first and foremost in mind, tend to inspire and empower staff and management to create a more relaxed and nurturing atmosphere...one dedicated to the joy of service and mindfully fostering increased well being.Where is this more important than at a place existing to purify and heal while offering a natural retreat from stresses of the everyday world?
 

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

Though some, like writer, bemoaned the fact that the operation under Foggy wasn't a nonprofit like Harbin or collective like Breitenbush, Stewart's came along nicely in some ways during his last years of absentee stewardship. He had at last unlimbered his wallet and lavished many improvements; the place made notable strides in beautifying the grounds and upgrading facilities, while, critically, also allowing visitors to enjoy the liberating freedom of 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 commercial energies floating about and tune in to the place's original harmonious healing and purifying vibration, while letting better flourish its infectious popularity among the bohemian-friendly.

Some thought the last managers tried as best they could, given the strictly-business directive within their 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. One reflecting the operation's astonishingly 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's done for the place. (They run it as a for-profit adjunct, as allowed by California law.)

______________________

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' 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 the bathhouse being low-keyly clothing-optional in the sauna, sundeck and creek area and requiring wrapping up in between points.

The ban possibly came about from erroneous perception bred of buttoned-down conservative lifestyle, aided and abetted by the sometimes Machiavellian maneuvers of the 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 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 have done other regional rural spring resorts permitting simple nudity in the spa area and sometimes even beyond. (Bathhouse layout wasn't optimal, besides.) As mentioned elsewhere, past manager Mary finally permitted it on approval by 'owner' Foggy, but, likely thrown off over her 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, the 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 boldly exhibit themselves, succumbing to the body-objectifying disease of a warped 'culture', rather than lifting up consciousness and attuning to higher body-mind-spirit re-integration that simple mindful nudity fosters in a mindful social environment amid nature.

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 awareness 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' had banned it, along with the sweat lodge, heedlessly alienating the old customer base, just to privatize the place to suit their own, egregiously inappropriate use of the grounds...

...and the hell with the age-old traditions and popular visitor druthers.

 

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 many had come to Springs in good part to get away from.

The 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 so sadly revealed).

Again, being involved with a 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 grok 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, maybe. 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 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 -- full spectrum, not CBD from hemp -- in treating a host of diseases so long as 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 that chilling warning, "May cause death"?)

more on c/o issue here, there and everywhere

In contrast, perhaps the only real danger of excessive nude sunbathing is being so hooked on soaking in the rays that one doesn't listen to their body telling one it's getting fried to a crisp and so risking getting skin cancer 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 the practice of readily, headily embraced radical body freedom.

_________________________

___________________________


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 either. 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 ever wrote 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 day-to-day fine-tuning efforts. No time to divert limited energies trying to unearth and make sense of the elusive vanished past.

More's the pity, though. As every conscious being knows (and writer reminds self), the 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 gives any more-aware stewards a foundation of understanding for charting viable new projects to further the place in ways allowing one to better experience its potential healing powers.

Beyond the often dreary human politics of the place -- and now the current shockingly private-minded, (hopefully temporary), diversion of the realm's time-honored focus --  one listening closely might hear the land's timeless history and message of glad tidings in the rushing of the creek and winds whispering in the pines.

________________________

It's perfect after all

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

Mendera and spirited Mexican-American > 

crew's new footbridge below A-frame

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

Disregarding the unfortunate and misguided notions any new 'ownership' might harbor to completely re-purpose and privatize the place, no matter what man attempts to do to the realm it remains perfect in its imperfection...an exquisite jewel of sacred ground and healing waters that has drawn people for centuries to heal, rejuvenate, and, not infrequently, connect with kindred spirits amid the glad tidings of nature.

Even when place loses its way and jumps down a rabbit hole of grossly inappropriate ventures like now, many believe that the mystic realm's supernatural powers will ALWAYS prevail over any human-use, inappropriate intent, given time.

Between the new "absentee stewards" connected to apparent spiritual and quasi-spiritual organizations and Earth's vibrational frequency increasing, one would've naturally hoped the medicine wheel of the sacred land would now be gathering some serious new momentum.

That instead it's been 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 miracle, they run it into the ground until Infinite Spirit eventually foils their wonky intentions to try keep occupying one of humanity's precious healing realms that's obviously meant to be shared with all earth's children.

Then they'll throw in towel, ideally redeeming themselves a bit and gaining an ultimate Springs legacy by selling the place at fair price to one or a group interested in restoring the land to its former ways of cultural diversity and open-mindedness and genuine service, at last locking it into being into a protected institution forever dedicated to serving the greater good.

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

Countless fans believe the place deserves nothing less.

 




Editorial addendum

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