A lot of people drive by Hot Lake Springs all the time and don’t know about its long and supposedly haunted past. The property sits just off Highway 203 near La Grande, and despite a fire, changing ownership several times, abandonment for over 10 years and vandalism, the resort has since been restored and is now open to the public again.
Native American tribes used the hot springs here for years, but it wasn’t officially established as a luxury resort until the 1860s. The retreat gained popularity fast and became a hot spot for families and travelers on the Oregon Trail. It grew to 300+ rooms, along with a beautiful ball room and dining facilities.
By 1917 Hot Lake Springs was acquired by a man known as Dr. Phy. As the new owner he converted the resort into a multi-purpose facility with a hospital on the third floor and a 60-bed surgical ward.
In 1934, a massive fire demolished the right side of the hotel. The brick portion of the building survived, but it wasn’t long after until the business started to decline and they could only operate the hospital on the third floor.
Post-fire, the property changed ownership a few times. It was used for various purposes like a nurse’s training school for WWII, then a nursing home, insane asylum, and a short-lived restaurant and nightclub.
Around the 1970s, stories of hauntings in the building began to circulate. Some guests have claimed they’ve seen the ghosts of old vacationers, while others believe they’ve seen apparitions of residents who lived here when it was used as a mental institution.
But that’s not all: a previous owner’s even reported hearing screaming and crying coming from the hospital’s old surgery room. Witnesses on the property have additionally claimed they’ve heard rocking chairs moving without being touched. In fact so many rumors and urban legends plagued this place, the property was later featured on the ABC show “The Scariest Places On Earth” in 2001.
The property sat abandoned from 1991-2002, in that time seeing vandalism, theft and trespassing. After being neglected for so long, the building was about ready to collapse. But luckily this slice of Oregon history was saved by the Manuel family, who took in the long-forgotten site and put years of hard work into restoring it back to a comfy spa and bed & breakfast like it once was.
It was no easy task – all 368 windows were broken or missing, they re-planted over 1,000 new trees and shrubs, and it wasn’t until two years of construction later when it was finally re-opened to the public.
Despite its long past, this hotel is once again a fascinating place to stay & soak in natural mineral water. They offer both cold and hot springs to relax in, a restaurant and cozy B&B accommodations. For more information on staying at this resort, check out their website here.
You can learn more about one of the new owners – and the restoration – in this interview from “Love Where You Live” on Youtube:
I would love to stay a few nights here. What about you? Have you been to this haunted hot springs resort before?