Steamy Waters

Chena Hot Springs has been a favorite destination for Fairbanksans for many years. In the old days, it was known as “Big Chena Springs.” When the water was first tested, it was shown to be on par with other world-class springs which brought in even more visitors to soak their cares away. Today’s history nugget is from the 1920s:

Fairbanks Daily News Miner- February 11, 1921


Sixty miles from Fairbanks, Chena River Hot Springs has proved to be one of the most curative springs in the world.

The proof of this statement is shown in the analysis of the waters from these springs, made in the bureau of chemistry of the department of agriculture in Washington D. C.

In general character the water of the Chena River Hot Springs is somewhat like those of Telsenquelle and of the famous springs at Carlsbad in Bohemia. The percentage composition of the principal salts in solution is somewhat similar, and bath springs alike contain sodium chloride, sodium sulfate, and sodium bicarbonate. The Chena River Hot Springs has even a great percentage of sodium bicarbonate than that of the famous spring at Carlsbad.

The waters of these springs have long been noted as a cure for rheumatism, stomach, liver, kidney, bladder trouble, scalp disease and blood disorders, etc.

The bath house has been put in good sanitary condition by the use of more than 7,500 pounds of Portland cement. Vapor baths, naturally heated and medicated, along with hot and cold Sulphur are to be had. Temperature of water, 162 degrees, baths are 50 cents per day. Cabin furnished for housekeeping $20 per month. Plenty of provisions now on hand, including vegetables, and we also have a pool table. Come and bring your best girl with you and have a dance, you will feel like it, suppled up after one of these baths.

A dog team here in case you should want to leave in a hurry. Road houses along the trail are all open for business.

G. W. WILSON, Proprietor

Fairbanks Daily News Miner – December 20, 1923

Last September, coming back from a trip, Mr. Wilson found the remains of a caribou well cooked in the springs—the bones being all there and separated. Another time he saw a caribou in the springs, jumping up and down because of the heat of the water, and watched it jump in and out of the springs twice, and he figures it must have lost its hoofs after that.

Note: The owner of the resort at Chena Hot Springs was George W. Wilson who was a member of Men’s Igloo No.4. Today’s owner, Bernie Karl, is also a member of Men’s Igloo No. 4. Fairbanksans still enjoy going to Chena Hot Springs just as they did 100 years ago. The only thing that has really changed over the past century is that only people are allowed in the pool. This steamy history nugget has been proudly brought to you by Men’s Igloo No. 4 and Women’s Igloo No. 8 of the Pioneers of Alaska.

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