I’ve been doing some cleaning lately and discovered some boxes of old negatives. I spent one whole weekend a month or so ago sorting out the negatives I wanted to keep and discarding the rest. The photo above is a result of one that I kept.
Many years ago I traveled on some dusty and rutted roads and discovered an amazing oasis in the middle of what seemed like nowhere. Just northwest of the Phoenix city limits and completely hidden from any main roads by the cliffs and crags of the Bradshaw Mountains is place called Castle Hot Springs. It opened in 1896 as a hotel to accommodate a surge of tuberculosis patients who had come to Arizona in search of relief. The waters of the hot springs were thought to have medicinal properties.
It soon started attracting some of America’s wealthiest and well known families. During WWII it was leased to the military and was used to house recuperating soldiers including John F Kennedy who was seeking treatment for his injured back.
When I first saw this place, I came around a rather rugged bend in the road to be greeted by green lawns dotted with white umbrellas over tables covered in equal amounts of white linen. In front of me in the middle of the rough Arizona desert was a garden party straight out of Cecil B. DeMille film! I went back a few weeks later to take pictures but was too late in the season for another garden party.
The hotel you see in the photo above burned down in 1976 and shortly after that, the property was donated to Arizona State University. It has since changed hands several more times. As far as I can tell, it has never reopened as a resort. I’ll have to take a drive back there again and see what it looks like now.