Historical information provided by Bob Powers. For more historical information on this area,
we recommend Kern River Country and Hot Springs Country by Mr. Powers.
What is a hot spring? The textbook definition is any spring whose water is at least 15 degrees warmer than the annual air temperature in the area. They are formed from water that is heated underground and returned to the surface. In certain areas, magma or lava has worked its way up through the Earth's crust to relatively shallow depths below the surface. Ground water percolates downward, comes in contact with the hot rock and is heated. As the water returns to the surface, it collects into pools known as hot springs. Temperatures and water flow vary by area and may change over time due to earthquakes or other natural phenomena.
Many hot springs have long histories of special status with Native American tribes. They used hot springs for healing and believed the waters had other powers. Native Americans had a tradition of declaring a hot spring to be a neutral zone, devoted to peace and healing.
In the 19th century it was legal and often quite profitable to claim that mineral water had the ability to cure an impressive list of ailments. Numerous hotels and boarding houses sprung up near the springs, catering to visitors looking for relaxation and cures.
There are over 1, 700 hot springs in the western United States. The best source of information is found in Thermal Springs List of the United States , published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and available through NOAA Environmental and Data Service Office in Boulder, Colorado.
You can find many hot springs on National Forest land along the lower Kern River Canyon. Geologic sources along the Kern River have combined underground water with earth core magma to produce hot springs. The water originates as relatively pure and becomes mineralized as the hot water dissolves surrounding rock. Mineral contents found here include sulphur, magnesium, iron and borax
While scattered hot springs exist throughout the Kern River in areas such as China Gardens, the larger sources were developed as hotels and retreats. While the establishments have disappeared, the hot springs remain.Hidden along the old canyon road is a trail that leads to Remington Hot Springs. This area provides hot springs that flow at 115 degrees along a shaded stretch of the river. No development remains other than a cement tub. A hiking trail across the road heads up Remington Ridge to Breckenridge Mountain. The hot springs are located 2 miles west of Hobo Campground on the Old Kern Canyon Road. A 1/4 mile hiking trail descends 300 feet down to the hat springs along the Kern River. This was originally known as Compressor Hot Springs or Clear Creek Hot Springs because an ingenious miner constructed a turbine that used water from Clear Creek to power a compressor that supplied air to underground miners in Havilah. A hobo camp with bath houses developed in the area during construction of the Borel power plant in 1901, changing the name to Hobo Hot Springs. The land was leased from the Forest Service for construction of a hotel in 1927. There was even an official post office established in 1932 that was used for the next 50 years. Professional therapists from Finland combined deep massage with the soothing effects of the hot springs. The name was changed to Miracle in 1947, for the 'miraculous' relief powers of the hot springs mineral waters. The hotel burned to the ground in 1975. The Forest Service cleared up the remaining hazards in recent years, but the trail to the springs and some rock tubs still remain. The water temperature comes out at 119 degrees. Miracle Hot Springs is 1/8 mile west of Hobo Campground. A short hiking trail leads to the springs. The name Delonegha comes from an early gold miner from Georgia. In 1866 he named the area after a Georgia goldrush town name from the Cherokee Indian word, taulonica, meaning yellow metal. Concrete tubs were first built by homesteaders, and in 1898 a hotel and boarding house were built. Stage coaches from the San Joaquin Valley took 2 days to get visitors to the area. The hotel closed in 1912, when more accessible areas of Democrat and Hobo were built. Remaining cement tubs run along a rock peninsula overlooking the Kern River; water temperatures average 112 degrees. This private property is fenced. Scovern dates to the 1866 when it was named the Hot Springs House. The baths offered at the hotel where supposed to cure invalids. A branch of the Kern County Hospital even operated from the hotel. By 1902 mud baths were also being offered and the wooden tubs were replaced by galvanized tubs. A swimming pool and bath houses were added when the Scoverns bought the property in 1929. The Scovern House burned to the ground in 1971. The popular resort is gone, and only a vacant lot remains. Steam can still be seen in the fields across from the springs, where water runs at 140 gallons a minute and 115 degrees. Democrat Hot Springs was named in honor of the local reigning political party when it was developed in 1904. The hotel and cottages were constructed to accommodate hot springs guests that came in stage coaches from Bakersfield to dine and relax during the early 1900's. Five springs on the property flow at 115 degrees into large soaking tubs and a swimming pool. Because of vandalism, this private property is gated and has a full time caretaker.
- Respect private property rights. Do not trespass at private hot springs without the landowners permission.
- Water temperatures vary by site, ranging from warm to very hot. Test the water first for temperature to avoid scalds and burns.
- Prolonged immersion may be hazardous to your health and result in hyperthermia
- Footing around hot springs is often poor. Watch out for broken glass; Don't go barefoot and don't go alone. Please don't litter.
- Elderly persons and those with a history of heart disease, diabetes, high or low blood pressure or who are pregnant should consult their physicians prior to use.
- Never enter hot springs while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Hot springs are naturally occurring phenomena and, as such, are neither improved nor maintained by the Forest Service.
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