Beautifully situated one hundred thirty-eight miles by highway or one hour by air north of Fairbanks is the Circle Hot Springs health resort. Here, in the heart of the famous Circle mining district, has been built the "Karlsbad of the North" centering around the hot springs whose medicinal value compares favorably with those found anywhere in the world.
Long known to possess valuable health-giving qualities, it was revealed in a U. S. Geological Survey report made in 1917 that the spring water contains nearly every element necessary to provide a health resort second to none. Among the elements listed are silica, iron, aluminum, calcium, potassium, bi-carbonate radicle, chloride radicle, sulphate radicle, and many others.
Under the management of Frank M. Leach a large modern hotel and thirty-two cottages have been built to provide accommodations for one hundred and sixty guests. A bath house with dressing rooms and pools has been constructed. All bathing facilities at the resort are supplied with water from the springs which flow at the rate of four hundred gallons per minute with a temperature of 139 degrees Fahrenheit.
Water Heats Hotel
In addition to its value as a health-giver, the water of the springs serves another purpose for the resort, having been pressed into service as a heating agent for the hotel and other buildings. Hot water pipes running through the buildings give a constant heat and are able to maintain an inside temperature of seventy degrees or more when the thermometer outside goes as low as seventy-two degrees below zero.
Five acres of gardens are raised at the Springs during the long growing season provided by the almost-constant sunlight of the summer aided by the warming influence of the springs. Greenhouses, heated by the springs, provide produce from April until late in September.
Besides supplying the hotel dining room and the cottages with fresh vegetables, the gardens furnish produce to the many mining camps in the immediate vicinity as well as to the camps in the Coal Creek-Woodchopper district. Lettuce, beets, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, and other vegetables grow abundantly at the resort. Lettuce that takes three to four months to mature in California is ready for the table six weeks after it has been planted at the Springs.
Circle Springs is the distributing and social center for a busy mining area. In the Circle district about four hundred men were engaged in the mining industry during the season of 1937. Many of these men and their families are spending the winter at the Springs or at the camps nearby. The Coal Creek-Woodchopper area, a few minutes by air from the Springs, employs from eighty to one hundred men during the mining season.
Transportation facilities to the Springs center around the Steese Highway during the summer months, and is limited to airplane service the balance of the year. Since February of this year there has been an average of over a plane a day to stop at the resort. Many Fairbanks people fly to the Springs for a week-end and longer vacations. At times, during the summer when the highway is open, several hundred people are at the resort on a week-end.
An efficient, long-wave radio transmitter installed this summer and operated by a licensed man, provides dependable, quick communication with Fairbanks and other Alaskan communities. A telephone line runs from the Springs to nearby mining camps and to Circle City on the Yukon River.
A large graded aviation field is maintained at Circle Springs. The field has been enlarged and improved this year to facilitate ski landings during the winter. Plans have been considered to extend the auto road thirty-five miles to tap the Coal Creek-Woodchopper mining camps. During the past summer an average of a plane a day arrived or departed from the Circle Springs field.
Discovery of Springs
Circle Hot Springs was discovered in 1897 by George Growe, who was prospecting on Deadwood Creek. While hunting Growe wounded a moose and trailed him for miles. The moose crossed a smal stream, which Growe noticed was extra warm. It was the fall season. He traced the source of the warm water, and located the springs, where the warm water was flowing from the hillside in the pretty oval shaped place in the hillside, now the site of the resort.
While Growe was at the springs the next April he noticed an attractive wild growth. It was wild parsnips. He did not now that the roots of the plant are poisonous. He cooked and ate some, and after that became violently ill. His health failed, and he died some years later.
Frank Leach, owner and operator of the Circle Hot Springs, has been in the district 33 years, and at the springs the last 29 years.