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A natural phenomenon, known by many monikers such as “Big Medicine,” “Healing Waters,” “Magic Waters,” “Medicinal Water” or “Hobo Pool” is probably responsible for the location of Saratoga.

Hot mineral water comes to the surface in the valley through fissures at the peak of a geological formation resulting from the upheaval of a rock ledge. There are a number of these springs located throughout town, including at the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort in the North Platte River, which runs through town, and on the west side of the river at the present Hobo Pool, which is owned by the Town of Saratoga.

Many legends link Indians to hot springs. The Indians believed in the supernatural powers of the waters. They believed by bathing in the mineral waters they would regain health and long life, and sometimes, warriors did so believing that the first to bathe would be the most enduring fighter.

The earliest settlers in the Upper North Platte River Valley refer to the hot springs as the “Indian Bathtubs.” 

Professor WH Reed, who came in 1868 to study and gather specimens, has told the most believable stories about the springs. He traveled throughout the state and often came to Saratoga.

He said, “The hot springs at this place used to be very popular with the Indians. They would resort to this valley by the thousands. This was neutral ground for every Indian tribe, for they all wished to bathe in the waters and be healed. No matter how much they might war outside of its boundaries, here they would fraternize, bathe and be healed. All roads led to these hot springs, and there were deeply worn trails made by the dragging of teepee poles. The waters were ‘Big Medicine.’”

Reed also said when the emigrants came through the area in about 1847, they brought smallpox to the Indians, who then came to the hot springs for treatment. Some research indicates it may have been cholera rather than smallpox. In any event, treatment consisted of sweating each patient in the hot water, listed as between 118 and 128 degrees, then plunging him into the cold waters, about 40 degrees, of the nearby river.

The result was nearly always fatal. Old hunters have said the treatment of many other Indian diseases was the same. The Indians decided a bad spirit had gotten into the waters and was killing all who bathed in them so, from then on, they shunned the valley and called the hot springs “Bad Medicine.”

Although white men, such as William H. Ashley and his band of fur trappers, are said to have passed through the Upper North Platte Valley as early as 1825, it wasn’t until the Overland Stage line was moved south in 1862 to what is known as the Overland Trail that many emigrants saw the valley … but then that’s for the next time we gather to soak in the hot pool.

As the United States entered World War I against Germany, local newspapers were doing their part to help with front page headlines and articles, such as the one that appeared in the April 19, 1917, issue of “The Saratoga Sun.”

More Than One Way to be a Patriot, Says the President

In Address to All the People President Wilson Outlines Plans by Which All Citizens May Give Assistance to the Republic in Her Hour of Need – Great Food Store Needed

“The supreme test of the nation has come. We must all speak, act and serve together!” With these solemn words, President Wilson concluded his address to the nation issued from the White House Monday, in which he appeals to all his fellow country-men of both sexes to enroll themselves in a vast “service army” to marshal and increase the economic resources of the United States for the most effective use in the war with Germany.

“We are fighting,” says the president, “for what we believe and wish to be the rights of mankind and for the future peace and security of the world.”

The president’s appeal to this great “service army” to be formed for the nation’s defense, may be thus summarized:

To Farmers: Increase the production of your land and co-operate in the sale and distribution of your products.

To Men and Boys: Turn in hosts to the farms, to help cultivate and harvest the vast crops imperatively needed.

To Middle Men: Forego unusual profits and “organize and expedite shipments of supplies.”

To Railway Men: See to it that there shall be no “obstruction of any kind, no inefficiency or slackened power,” of the “arteries of the nation’s life.”

To Merchants: Take for your motto, “Small profits and quick service.”

To Shipbuilders: Speed construction of ships, for “the life of the war depends upon you.”

To Miners: If you “slacken or fail, armies and statesmen are helpless.”

To Manufacturing Men: “Speed and perfect every process,” for your “service is absolutely indispensable” to the nation.

To Gardeners: By creating and cultivating gardens, you can help greatly to solve the problem of “feeding the nations.”

To Housewives: Eliminate wastefulness and extravagance.

To Editors and Advertising Agencies: Give widespread circulation and repetition to this appeal.

An editorial on page 2 of the same newspaper urges:

Patriot and His Duty

The president’s statement to the country calling on all patriotic citizens to rally to the service, in some form or other, in the present crisis is timely and brings home to every man and woman whose love of country is paramount to his or her duty in the present trying times. This does not mean that all shall enlist to fight. Many, of course, must do that, but there is also an important service that the man who is to stay at home can render.

The farmer and stockman can see to it that the armies of this country and of the allies are furnished with meat and other food products, and this, in itself, is an important service to render to the country. At the present time, the farmer is already busy getting ready to plant additional crops, and the stockman also has a duty to perform in growing more forage crops for his stock and in bringing his animals to the highest efficiency for slaughter before marketing.

Those who are able can also render an important service in helping to provide for the destitute who will suffer as a result of the war, and there will be such. And, in helping to sustain the families of those who volunteer to fight, there are hundreds of ways in which the patriot may render a service to his country in this crisis. It is up to the individual to look for his opportunity and, when it comes, to do his duty, no matter what the sacrifice involved.

During one of the worst winters and springs ever recorded in the Upper North Platte River Valley of south central Carbon County, the following headline news item dominated the April 6, 1917 issue of “The Saratoga Sun.”

Heroic Effort will be Made to Open the Road by the End of the Present Week

In spite of strenuous efforts put forth by the management of the local road, assisted by Union Pacific snowplows and other equipment, as well as by large crews of men from Saratoga and Encampment who have worked heroically with picks, shovels, blasting powder and all other means at their command, the S&E road is still effectually blockaded, and it is estimated that at least a couple of days and perhaps more will yet be required before the road is opened to the terminus. The great numbers of cattle being fed on the valley and the present acute shortage of the feed supply makes the present situation a very critical one, and heroic efforts will be made to break the line open within the shortest possible time.

Considerable time was lost at the start in waiting on a snowplow, it being the general theory that a rotary plow would have no trouble in opening the cuts, but subsequent events have proven that the road crews with shovels and spud bars have made fully as good headway in opening the cuts as the snow plows, which, on account of the very deep and heavy snow and the streaks of ice which are found in all the cuts, marking the various storms and thaws of the past six weeks, have proven too much for even the best rotary plows owned by the Union Pacific company. There has been a series of delays owing to damaged and broken snowplows ever since the work was begun on the lower end of the line.

A crew of from 20 to 25 men has been sent out from Saratoga each day for a week or more, and a great deal has been accomplished even with the primitive tools at hand, the line having been opened for seven miles or more north from this station. Most of the cuts from this territory were level full, containing from 15 to 20 feet of snow, which had packed to a consistency closely resembling ice and being almost as difficult to handle. Last night, the crew from Saratoga and the snowplow working out of Walcott were but three miles apart, but on account of some damage to the plow, it was unable to be on the work today, the report from Walcott being that a new plow would arrive there tonight and would be on the job early tomorrow morning.

Reports from Encampment are to the effect that several miles of the track has been cleared in this direction and all available men are being sent out on the line.

The situation in the upper valley, where large numbers of cattle are being wintered and where the feed question is becoming very serious, has caused a movement for a wholesale suspension of all other operations until this line can be opened. It is reported that the entire town of Encampment will suspend business for a day or two in order that everyone may lend assistance in opening the road to assist in averting a wholesale loss of livestock.

A movement is also on foot in Saratoga to declare a general holiday tomorrow and allow every able-bodied man in the community to get out and do his share toward breaking the blockade. It is probably a safe estimate to say there will be from 150 to 200 men engaged in the work tomorrow, and barring serious accidents, there will be several carloads of hay available for local stockmen before tomorrow evening. A valiant effort will be made to have the line open for its entire length within 48 hours.

Bad, wet snow storms during the spring of 1917 not only threatened livestock, blocked railroad tracks, caused severe hardship and closed roads in and out of the Saratoga and Encampment area, it also disrupted mail service, as reported in the May 5, 1917 issue of “The Saratoga Sun.”

The Encampment-Big Creek stage met with an accident last Saturday night at the crossing of Beaver Creek, which came near causing the loss of the team, owned by Contractor Frank Cront. The thaw of last week had caused some high water in the creek and softened the snow, as well, and when the stage attempted to cross, the horses sank down in the slush and a bad entanglement resulted.

After much strenuous work in the dark, the driver, Earl Christensen, managed to extricate one of the horses, which he rode to a nearby ranch, and when he returned to the scene of the accident later found that the other horse had managed to get out without assistance. The wagon with the mail and other cargo were recovered without loss or damage.

According to Contractor Crout, on account of the great amount of snow along this route, there will be a period of a few weeks later in the season when it will be impossible to travel this stage route with a team, and it is likely that the mail will have to be transported by men on snowshoes.

Severe snowstorms during the winter and spring of 1917 were some of the worst ever experienced in the Upper North Platte River Valley of south-central Carbon County. Inclement weather not only blocked roads and killed livestock, it created major problems for the Saratoga and Encampment Railroad, known locally as the “Slow and Easy.”

The March 29, 1917, issue of “The Saratoga Sun” reported:

U.P. Engine and Rotary Snowplow Now Working in the Vicinity of Pass Creek

A determined effort has been made the past few days to open up the local railroad line as far as Saratoga, and reports today are to the effect that good progress is being made, and the probabilities are that the line will be open to this point by tomorrow evening or Saturday, at the latest.

According to telephone reports from Rawlins today, General Superintendent Jeffers of the Union Pacific, who was at Rawlins yesterday, gave assurance that every effort would be made to open the line without delay to supply feed to local stockmen, and President Ira Casteel of the local stock association phoned from Walcott this morning that the work would be rushed with all possible speed, and he looked for the road to be open to this point within a very short time.

Considerable trouble was experienced Wednesday, when most of day was spent in bucking snow in the Crone cut near Pass Creek. Twice the rotary snowplow jumped the track, and from three to four hours was required each time to get it back on the rails. Another rotary was brought to Walcott and placed on the job this morning, and now better headway is now being made. With the exception of a deep cut in the vicinity of Lake Creek, the Crone cut, where snow from 14 to 18 feet in depth was encountered, is considered to be the worst place on the line, and but a few feet of snow remained to be moved at that point when the work began this morning. It is expected the cut in the vicinity of Midway will give some trouble, but it is said the snow at this point is not so deep.

The only uncertain factor about the work, according to Mr. Casteel and others, is whether the S&E track in some places will stand the weight of the heavy machinery employed in breaking up the blockade. If the track holds up under the snowplow and heavy engine, there is no doubt of the road being clear to this point within the next 48 hours.