Friday, May 5, 2017

Hot Springs, South Dakota

At our recent campground near Hot Springs, South Dakota, we started talking with the very friendly owners. Turns out they moved from the Denver, Colorado area to South Dakota to improve their family's quality of life. We very politely nodded our heads (yeah right, South Dakota), until we drove a few miles to the town of Hot Springs. From a population of 28 in 1880 the town quickly grew. In 1890 local residents embarked on an ambitious plan to turn the whole town into a health spa. A spa was built over a group of springs taking advantage of the 87 degree water and healing minerals The railroad reached Hot Springs in 1891; the town’s future was secured (Now remember, this was only 15 years after the Battle of Little Big Horn). Elaborate sandstone buildings were built over the next few decades from locally quarried stone.

This was a hotel.

This is the veteran's building.

That is the Fall River flowing through town. Considering that there is still snow in the hills not far from town, one would expect the water to be icy cold. However, due to the hot springs that seem to be everywhere, the water in the river is almost bath tub warm.

Here you can see the luscious growth along the river banks.

Some of the pools are deep enough to soak in.  The water is VERY clear, as you can see by the sandy bottom to the top of the picture.

One of the cool things the town did was to create walking trails along both sides of the river. For about a mile and a half you can stroll along the banks and enjoy yourself.

Here, you can see how the bank is armored with rip-rap (big stones) to prevent erosion, like that which happened undermining the drainpipe.  Apparently, the weight of the concrete was then enough to break off the lip of the drainpipe.

This was really cool, a warm waterfall. Again, note all the growth in the warm water, even though the air temperature is freezing.  It was 24 degrees our first night here.  Interestingly, the water has so many dissolved minerals, that it is building a thicker and thicker substrate of rock under itself as the minerals are deposited.  It's hard to say, but I'd guess that the water fall is built out about 8-10 feet.  That's quite a contrast to Dry Falls from the Dry Falls blog post, which eroded the base underneath itself and moved some 15 miles upstream.

Some for the springs are not for soaking, but for sipping, like this one at Kidney Springs. There is a spout dispensing water for people to try. We did, and something that foul/medicinal/evil/strong/unusual (pick your adjective) tasting just has to be good for you.

Here is a helpful chemical analysis of the spring water that was posted.  Those of you that know Dr. V will be able to spot the chemical in this brew that will severely mess me up.  I put my finger in the water, and tapped my wet finger on my tongue, and that was enough for me.  As Clint Eastwood said, "a man's got to know his limitations."  This is one that I do not mess with.

And here is a list of what it is good for.

Finally, instead of the traditional sunset picture, here is an equally colorful picture of a bison that we really liked.  This is a mural on the side of a building.

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