Although the drive to San Diego from Phoenix or Tucson is usually referenced as a punch line, there was a time, in the late 1800s, when tourists would flock to the hot springs just west of Gila Bend.
© Provided by Jeremy Rowe
A resort brochure extols the restorative power of the Agua Caliente hot springs.
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By Danielle Grobmeier
Just west of Gila Bend, along the Gila River, sit several adobe and stone structures, still baking in the hot desert sun more than a century after their construction. Although they don’t look like much today, these structures were once an exclusive resort where guests stayed to enjoy the nearby Agua Caliente hot springs.
Built in 1897, the 22-room adobe hotel catered mostly to travelers coming from the town of Hyder. Hyder is now a ghost town, but several eastbound and westbound passenger trains arrived there daily during its heyday, and weary passengers no doubt benefited from the therapeutic mineral springs. In the 1860s, John Ross Browne visited the springs and wrote about his travels in his book Adventures in the Apache Country. He included this account of his brief stay at the Agua Caliente springs: “An abundant supply of water flows from the Aqua Calliente [sic]. We had a glorious bath in the springs next morning, which completely set us up after the dust and grit of the journey.”
The springs, which used to pump out hundreds of gallons of hot water a day, were taken over by ranchers who used the water for irrigation, eventually leaving them barren. Although the springs have dried up and the resort closed in the 1950s, caretakers still manage and maintain what’s left of the property.
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