The History of Easley Hot Springs
The fall of 2008 marked the completion of improvements to the deck around Easley Hot Springs. The program of repairs and improvements was required to fix the damage from the flood of 2006. However, this was not the first time the pool had been upgraded by the Idaho Baptist Convention. For the past 80 years, American Baptists have built and renewed this facility as part of their ministry to the youth and people of southern Idaho.
The history of Easley Plunge begins in 1880, when John V. Easley moved to the upper Wood River Valley and opened a stage station across the Big Wood River from the hot springs. He dug out the springs, built a log bath house and a log bridge over the river to serve travelers and miners from nearby Boulder City and Galena. When the local mines played out, Easley closed the stage station and retired to the Boise Valley.
In 1919, the Idaho Baptist Convention began meeting along the Big Wood River a short distance downstream. Campers were quick to discover the warm waters in the cobbled together tank that replaced the dug-out pool. In 1928, the American Baptist obtained the Forest Service permit to the hot springs and spent $4,500 on improvements. A store was built that sold camping supplies and even had a gas pump. A row of changing rooms were built along the hillside. However, the biggest change was the construction of a 40 x 75-foot swimming pool engineered with reinforced concrete and buttressed sides.
For the next 25 years, the new pool was used by the camp and proved popular with the general public and other local camps. The aging facilities were upgraded in 1953 with a new two-and-a-half story store connected a much-needed shower house featuring modern showers and toilet facilities. The concrete and milled-log structure was built into the hillside and provided apartments for the manager and staff.
In 1999, a new deck was added to the west end of the shower house and pool foot traffic was directed out the end of the building. The next year saw a ramp added to the deck. In 2001, the shower rooms were extensively remodeled with the concrete floor replaced to allow the installation of ADA plumbing facilities, a laundry room, a staff bathroom and radiant-tube heating. A modern jetted spa was installed in the northwest corner. A decorative fir ceiling in the shower house was heavily insulated – allowing comfortable winter use.
The record run-off of the spring of 2006 briefly rerouted the Big Wood River into an old channel that roared along the north edge of the pool. The action of the water heavily damaged the 1928 and 1968 pool and deck supports and also washed out the road below the pool. Work to repair this damage was completed in the fall with the completion of the new deck around the pool. These repairs and improvements stood up against the record run-off of the spring of 2017.
In 2017/2018 the west end porch was rebuilt and the pool received a new coat of paint.
For the past 128 years, the constantly renewed hot water has comforted travelers and provided recreation for campers. The hot springs have soothed aching muscles and have been used for countless baptisms. While time and the effects of nature have taken its toll on Easley Hot Springs, successive generations of Baptists have faithfully renewed the facilities in this unique ministry.
- By Dale M. Gray