Although the natives had known of the hot springs in the mountains and used them as sacred waters it was three railway workers, searching for gold on their day off, who found the cave and descended into the underground area to become the first reported white men to see the hot springs. They built a fence around the area and constructed a shack. They charged for hot baths. A gold mine of another sort.
Dr. Brett built a hospital/spa where people came for healing. This is the place my heroine is hoping to reach. Hundreds of people came to be treated by the sulfur-rich and smelly waters. The handrails on the stairway of the hospital were held up by crutches that were no longer needed by patients thus emphasizing the healing properties of the water. (In fact crutches were given to all patients whether or not they needed them so the handrails were not an indication of the healing achieved from the springs.)
Soon William Van Horne, general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway, recognized the potential of the hot springs to attract tourists (and use the railway) and decided to build a luxury hotel nestled in the Canadian Rockies. The 250 room hotel opened in 1888 and was immediately filled to capacity with wealthy European tourists despite the high prices of a room at $3.50 a night.
The ‘castle in the Rockies’ is still operational and still luxurious although it has undergone changes. A fire in 18926 destroyed one wing which was rebuilt. In the ‘30s the hotel was a high profile getaway for celebrities. Because or travel restrictions during World War II the hotel actually closed for three years.
But Banff is more than hot springs and castles. It is majestic scenery, bustling little shops, hikes of every sort. It is museums of the local natives, the wildlife and the early explorers. Whyte Museum is always on my list of stops in Banff. Banff is fun little bistros and sandwich shops as well as fine dining. Of course there are still hot springs to swim in. And the Banff Springs Hotel to visit. The main areas are open to the public. It is well worth a few hours of your time. Be sure to pick up a brochure for a self-guided tour of the hotel.
For more information Google Cave and Basin, Banff, Banff Springs Hotel.
If you have questions or comments, please feel free to comment on the blog and I’ll respond as best I can. And please pick up the Christmas collection that has my novella in—A Cowboy’s Christmas is the name of my story in the collection, Christmas Under Western Skies. Everyone who leaves a comment will be entered to win a copy of the book.