“It’s The Water” that attracted First Nation people to the warm, artesian sulfur springs on the shores of Steward Creek. Legend tells us that the name Steward Creek was later changed to Bear Creek when a badly injured bear took refuge near the sulfur springs, recovering from an almost certain death. Agnes Pilgrim, chieftain of the Takilma tribe, shares that warring nations – with respect for the restorative properties inherent in the healing water - put down their arms in the vicinity of the mineral springs.
Tradition of Healing
That no arrowheads or spearheads have been uncovered on the properties surrounding the hot springs suggests that the folklore is accurate. Honoring ancient tradition and lore, Eugenia Jackson deeded in 1862 the use of the artesian hot springs with the Oregon water master, for “sanitarium and natatorium purposes”. A half century later Jackson Hot Springs opened its Olympic -sized swimming pool and mud bath to the public. Situated both on the old stagecoach road and on the railroad between Salem and Sacramento, Jackson Hot Springs received passengers from San Francisco to Seattle.
One of five “’turn of the Century” bath houses, the hot springs helped to cultivate Ashland’s reputation as a west coast center for relaxation and rejuvenation, a reputation the region enjoyed from 1890 until the 1940’s. Today, only two of the original resorts remains. With a renewed commitment to an ancient tradition of healing and water therapy, the name of the thirty acre hot springs resort was changed in 1995 to Jackson WellSprings. In the years that followed, many of the property’s original features have been restored in an effort to accommodate a greater population base and to make the healing waters available to the public, at large. The sauna and massage suites have been enlarged and improved.
A large deck and warm water soaking pool have been added, enlarging the WellSprings’ therapeutic modalities to include Watsu (water shiatsu) and phyto- therapy. Piping water down from a pristine mountain spring, the spa facility has been equipped with a steam room. One hundred years after opening its doors to the public, an ever-increasing volume of hot springs enthusiasts and Rogue Valley residents visiting the WellSprings to “partake of the water” are finding themselves invigorated and transformed by the experience.