Boulder Hot Springs Inn, Spa and Retreat Center is an extraordinary place located in Montana’s Peace Valley. This valley is named so by the First People of the land as a place of healing, gathering, and celebration with no hostilities. The hot springs have been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, and the area was once frequented by Presidents, celebrities, and wealthy ranchers. It is said that Teddy Roosevelt stayed here while hunting in the area, Warren Harding stayed here, and FDR visited after his meetings in Butte. Today, the hot springs are a popular destination for people seeking relaxation and natural healing. Additionally, the hot springs are known to be a popular destination for ghost hunters as well, with the property's rich history and the many mining ghost towns that haunt the surrounding area.
History of Boulder Hot Springs Inn and Spa
The first building on the site was constructed in 1863 by a prospector named James E. Riley. Mr. Riley built a saloon and bathhouse catering to local miners and ranchers who came here to soak, bathe, and enjoy the amenities. In 1881, Riley enlarged the hotel at the springs, and the following year began constructing a new hotel that would accommodate fifty people. In September of that same year, Riley died of smallpox.
After Riley’s death, Abel C. Quaintance and Cornelius Griswold bought the springs, and the hotel was completed. In 1890, C.K. Kerrick of Minneapolis secured a ten-year lease on the property. He supervised the construction of a large addition to the old hotel structure, resulting in a Victorian hotel with a veranda surrounding the building. He renamed it the Hotel May after his daughter. At the time of the lease, the hotel was two hours by rail from Helena and Butte. The Elkhorn line of the Northern Pacific completed that year brought rail service to the hotel. Kerrick disposed of his interest in the Hotel May that same year to a local businessman. During this time period, the Keeley Cure, a treatment for alcohol and drug addiction, was available at the hotel.
The property changed hands several times, and in 1909, James A. Murray, a Butte millionaire miner, and banker, purchased the springs. In 1910, the hotel underwent a thorough renovation. Murray hired an interior decorator from New York City who redecorated the card room in a Chinese motif and added fancy fresco work in the huge lobby. Murray also hung the lobby’s 12-foot ceiling with light globes of exclusive amber glass reportedly made by Tiffany’s of New York. Murray, who frequently visited California, was enamored with the architecture there and added arches and fountains to the hot springs building plus having it stuccoed. The result was a huge building, resembling a Spanish mission and built in the California Mission Arts & Crafts style.
During the Murray years, there were many managers of the springs, and it was often closed until someone would lease it. During the early 1930s, gambling was legal, and it was also the time of the “Big Bands,” so Saturday night in Peace Valley was a big night. After the death of James A. Murray, his nephew, James E. Murray, later to become United States Senator, became the owner. He operated the hotel, with various managers, until 1940, when he sold it to C.L. “Pappy” Smith. Pappy Smith changed the name to the Diamond S Ranchotel, by which it was to be known for the next 35 years or so.
Haunted Happenings at Boulder Hot Springs
The old historic buildings may be a relaxing stop for some, while for other ghosthunters, it's a destination. The haunted mansion at Boulder Hot Springs offers a unique and unforgettable experience for those who are fascinated with the paranormal. The Simone Suite, in particular, is a must-stay for those who want to learn about the stories of the inn's "resident ghosts." Supposedly very protective of previous owners, some still have reported a “presence” upon their overnight stay.
But the experience doesn't end there. Visitors can take day trips to nearby haunts and learn about the famous ghost towns of the area. The Elkhorn Ghost Town, in particular, is a popular destination for those who want to experience the paranormal.
For those who want a more spiritual experience, visiting a sacred buffalo jump is a must. The spirits of that place are said to seep into your bones and provide a connection to the past. Visitors can also meditate on the land behind the Inn and Spa, where the natives camped and held ceremonies, and open themselves to hear the voices of the past.
After a day of exploring and experiencing the paranormal, visitors can return to the comfort of their rooms, have a soak in the hot springs, and read the stories of ghost tales while waiting to see if Simone chooses to pay a visit
Despite its reputation as a haunted destination, many guests continue to visit Boulder Hot Springs simply for its healing hot springs and beautiful surroundings. The inn offers a unique blend of history, rustic charm, and modern amenities, making it a popular spot for weddings, retreats, and other events. This is not a party destination. Alcohol is not served at the springs, and the saunas are still separated by men's and women's rooms, though there is an outdoor pool for families to hang out, especially in the summer months.
Overall Boulder Hot Springs is a historic and unique destination that has been attracting visitors for over a century. With its healing hot springs and beautiful location, it is no wonder that it has become a favorite spot for travelers from all over the world. Whether you are a hot springs enthusiast, history buff, or ghost hunter, Boulder Hot Springs offers something for everyone.