Long before Bonneville was built, the waters of the hot springs were seen as a place of health and wellness. The restorative properties of the springs brought people from long distances, and they carried their sick and aged to bathe in and drink from the waters.
Records indicate that local Native American tribes used the springs as early as 10,000 years ago, making them the first documented people to associate the hot springs with health and wellness. The springs served as a place of worship and sanctity, and were often used to perform healing rituals on the ill or injured.
Then, in 1880, a European settler named R.J. Snow discovered the springs and alerted other settlers of the location. Thomas Moffett, a friend of Snow, identified the importance of making the waters readily available to those in need, and quickly constructed Cascade Springs Hotel in 1881. Cascade Springs housed many guests for extended stays while they took to the waters as a form of treatment for various ailments, providing them with a comfortable place to rest their head between soaks.
Many people, however, were too unwell to travel to the springs, so in 1885 Moffett began bottling the water and selling it for 10 cents per bottle. As demand steadily increased, researchers began performing numerous chemical analyses of the waters in order to ascertain the reasoning behind its popularity. J.H. Fisk and the U.S. Chemical Assayers confirmed that the mineral content of the water gave it undeniable healing properties, confirming what the Native Americans knew to be true many years prior.
The Cascade Springs Hotel flourished for many years, but in the early 1930’s a devastating fire destroyed the hotel in its entirety. The hot springs remained unused until 1932, when new owners constructed Biba Hot Springs.
Biba was built to be very different from Cascade Springs Hotel. Featuring a dozen cabins and a 38-acre campground, Biba saw a great deal of success in its earlier years. By the 1970’s, however, it was in a state of disrepair. Only a few cabins remained, and very few people were willing to risk the less-than-ideal accommodations at Biba in order to bathe in the springs.
It was during this time that Pete Cam (the current owner of Bonneville Hot Springs Resort & Spa) first discovered the healing capabilities of the mineral water at Biba. He suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis in his legs, and had heard that the hot springs may be able to provide him with some sort of relief from his unrelenting symptoms.
So, despite Biba’s crumbling conditions, Cam began to soak in the springs. After the first day, he noted such remarkable relief that he returned for a second, and a third, and after a week was able to walk on his own. He experienced such an unbelievable transformation, that he felt compelled to purchase the property so that others suffering from similar ailments may find the same sense of relief.
In 1989, Pete Cam became the owner of Biba Hot Springs. Over the next 13 years, he worked diligently to create a safe, nurturing place for people escape to the chaos and the stress of the modern world. His hope was (and still is) that others would find the same, overwhelming sense of relief in the springs, and that their lives would be changed for the better because of it.