Often requested is a short history of the springs.  The history of the springs is fascinating . . . inextricably tied to the railway and the early history of Washington . . . at then, still a territory.  The story begins with the original federal land grants to the railroad and magnates like James Hill of the Great Northern Railroad (now BNSF) and Frederick Weyerhaeuser of timber fame.  The stories range from the diaries of a young girl growing up in Scenic, the construction camps of those early rail workers to the history still soaked up in the Iron Goat Trail . . . the original switchback route over Stevens Pass.  the stories include disasters like the Wellington Train Avalanche disaster on March 1st, 1910 that remains to this day the worst train-avalanche disaster in the U.S. history.

Scenic
Hot springs
has
been known and used in recent history since the 1880s when it
was delightfully
‘discovered’ by rail workers constructing the original rail
route over Stevens
Pass.   There is no history (traditional or otherwise) of the
Native American population ever using the springs.  Native Americans had seasonally berry-picked the area, but used nearby Cady Pass at 4,300 feet to cross the Cascades, and had seemed to miss Stevens Pass at 4,000 feet as a suitable crossing point.
  The nearest
“Indian” tribe was the Skykomish people who populated the area
now known as Index . . . and rarely wandered further east than
the valleys around the present-day town of Skykomish (The
Skykomish Tribe . . . now a part of the Tulalips) . . . traveled  mainly on the North Fork of the Skykomish River.

At the sources of the hot springs
(source: Seattle Times, March 11th, 1906)


The actual discovery of the springs is generally credited to
Stevens and Haskell during their searches for a rail route over
the Cascades.  During construction of the three alignments of
the Great Northern route over Stevens Pass (culminating in the current Cascade Tunnel in 1929), Japanese workers
used the hot springs at the sources.  Eventually, a hotel was
built at the eastern terminus of the line from Seattle and water
piped down to be re-heated.  The actual springs, however,
remained the purview of non-white railroad laborers
.

Analysis of spring waters
Notably missing from the analysis is the Lithium content.
The flow rate of 4 Miner’s Inches is equivalent to 30 GPM,
not far off the present flow rate.
(source: Seattle Times, March 11th, 1906)

During those early days the hotel (and later, the burgeoning community
around it) were variously called Madison Hot Springs and Scenic
Hot Springs.  On completion of the Switchback lines over Stevens
Pass,  an upscale sanatorium and hotel (the Scenic Hot Springs
Hotel) operated
and boasted of the hot
springs

waters and the boons to health.  That hotel (and its previous
two incarnations) were built by a Mr. Prosser next to the newly
constructed Great Northern railway line over Stevens Pass (the
Iron Goat Trail nowadays).  

The hotel in it’s early days . . . later extensively landscaped.
(source: Seattle Times, August 27th, 1905)

The hotel was a luxurious resort for
the rich and famous (and white) from Seattle . . . the hot
springs water piped two and a half miles down the mountain to
the hotel where it was reheated to 130 F.    Sadly, that hotel
was torn down in 1929 to make
room for the new Cascade Railroad Tunnel under Stevens Pass.  As
recompense to the owner of the hotel, the Great Northern Railway
deeded the 40 acres containing the hot spring sources within its
railway land grant to Mr. Prosser.  Later a partnership of
Seattle-area doctors bought the property as a recreational
getaway.  In the fifties, the property was extensively harvested
for its timber . . . there are still remnants of old logging
spurs on the property to this day and, if you view the property
from Hwy 2 closer to Stevens Pass you can clearly see the
property boundaries where sixty years of new growth has filled
in the forty acres.

Scenic Hot Springs in the late 90s . . . the large deck almost finished.
During
the late 1980s and 90s Scenic was ‘rediscovered’ by a new
generation. Elaborate
pool construction and deck work on the steep forested slopes
commenced without
the property owners knowledge nor proper permits for sensitive
and steep
slopes. In the 90s into 2001 Scenic became a party destination,
garnering too
much attention. Alcohol and drug abuse was rampant, assaults
common and car vandalism
a major problem. In October of 2001 the King County Sheriff’s
Department gave
the owner an ultimatum . . .remove the illegal construction and
abate activities
at the springs, or face the legal consequences. A few days later
deputies
raided the springs and dismantled the pools and deck work. That
destruction sat
on the mountainside for the next several years until the present
owner bought
the property with promises to reopen Scenic Hot Springs legally
to the public
once again. Today we remain in sensitive negotiations to obtain
those permits.

The present owner is Mike Sato.  He is Japanese.  Mike lives in Canada
and is probably the foremost expert in North America on hot
springs.  Mike has operated Meager Creek Hot Springs in Canada
and has been involved in the management and operation of
Skookumchuck Hot Springs (also in Canada).  Matt and myself
(Rick) represent Mike’s interests at Scenic Hot Springs.  Mike’s
intent is to keep Scenic rustic and eventually reconstruct three
natural-rock soaking pools, a proper latrine, changing room and
caretaker’s cabin on the property.  Our job is to break the old,
troublesome behavior of the past and control access to Scenic .
. . make Scenic a good neighbor so the county will issue those
final permits.