Wolfer’s Mineral Springs, Hubbard, Oregon

Gushing forth 100 gallons per minute of Nature’s healing waters each and every minute of the day, and every day of the year, is the record of this Spring of crystal water, situated but a few rods from the corporate limits of the pretty city of Hubbard.  This Spring, long known as Wolfer Mineral Spring, is located in one of Nature’s prettiest surroundings and on every hand can be seen the beauteous blending of the Architect of the Universe.  Grand old trees, secluded nooks, lazy, nerve-resting creek, ozone laden with the breath of the fir, restful health-giving surroundings abound in this garden-like sanitarium of nature.

Wolfer’s Mineral Springs in Hubbard, Oregon in 1894. Left to right, back row: Jake Stirnbach, Otto Miller, Gussie Miller, Anna Miller, Mamie Miller. Front, left to right: Clausen Miller, Ottilla Will Wolfer, Henrietta Wolfer, Charles and Clark Will, George J. Wolfer, Mr. Miller and daughter, Mr. Cashen with bike, Shirley Buck, Mr. McKee and grandson, Old Stoney. Catalog Number: WHC 2010.041.0184

An artesian spring outside the Hubbard city limits has served as a community gathering place for a long time.  This natural resource has provided local residents and travelers from afar food, recreation and medicine.

Oral tradition of early Euro-American residents claim that deer were attracted to the mineral properties of the spring and that Native American and early Euro-American settlers in the area found it a good hunting ground.   The spring’s namesake, George J. Wolfer (1842-1930), claimed that the spring had drawn folks from around the valley and even Eastern Oregon long before he bought the property in 1882.  Wolfer was part of the Aurora Colony, having come with overland in a wagon train from a colony in Bethel, Missouri to Aurora in 1863. After settling in the Hubbard area, Wolfer’s day jobs included operating a brick and tile factory, mercantile store and working as a constable.  He also had many hobbies, including gun collecting and mountain climbing.  He is credited with improving the spring, cleaning out the brush, channeling the waters into a stone basin, creating bathing houses and picnic grounds and touting the healthful benefits spring’s “healing waters.”  By the early 1890s, local newspapers report that crowds flocking to the spring to drink the waters and bathe in them.  Large gatherings for picnics and Fourth of July celebrations complete with band performances and baseball games were held.

People came from all over.  My favorite newspaper description of the springs comes from the report of a Salem-based bicycle club, who in July 1897, rode from Salem to the twenty miles to the springs at Hubbard for their Sunday outing.  In their description they are quick to note that a trip to the springs can be easily done on the train as well as the depot is only a five-minute walk from the springs.  Another society column states a day trip from Salem is not only quite possible, but also reasonably priced at $1.64.

The health benefits of the spring water were compared to the famous German health spa at Carlsbad.  The mineral content of the water was claimed to be excellent remedy for “liver, intestinal, kidney and bladder troubles, female diseases of the various kinds, also all forms of skin diseases and more particular in wasting and nervous diseases …It will act as a tonic and laxative to the whole system in general.”   Not everybody was convinced of the healing properties of the water.  Hubbard Resident Ivan DeArmond was interviewed as part of the Hubbard history project in 1990.  While he admitted to going over the springs when he first started feeling the effects of arthritis.  When asked if it helped, he said: “I don’t think anything helps arthritis, but aspirin and pain killers.”

Newspaper advertisement

Advertisement for water bottled at Wolfer’s Mineral Springs that was sold in Salem. Daily Capital Journal. 30 July 1896, pg 2.

Visits to the springs and parties were just a part of the vision Wolfer had for the springs.  He worked with several partnerships to bottle the spring water and sell it throughout the state.  He also envisioned a large health resort, where folks could come from the city to relax, experience nature, and heal.  The Wolfer family sold the springs in 1925 and it was converted into a sanitarium.  Through up and down economic times, the property was purchased or leased by a series of cooperatives and doctors who built a lodge and turned the springs into a medical retreat, complete with doctors and nurses.

Through the 1950s, the resort was operated to cater to medical concerns and to the need for people to relax.  A 1953 advertisement in the Capital Journal declares that in addition to being a place to deal with “Arthritis, Rheumatism, Kidney and Skin disorders” the Hubbard Mineral Springs is also “A good place to rest or vacation, wear your casual clothes [and] enjoy our delicious Home-Cooked Meals.”  In addition to the medical concerns, the retreat featured a modern lodge with a big fire place, king sized pool and horse-back riding instructors on staff. In 1962, new owners of the now “historic” Hubbard Mineral Springs worked to bring year round activity to the once seasonal retreat.  They planned to heat the pool fed by the mineral springs year round and to install diving boards, slides, and a sunbathing area.  Visitors could swim at night with the new lighting added and be greeted by a parrot named Polly.

Sources

Wolfer Mineral Springs.”  Capital Journal.  13 April 1910.

Frances S. Twining.  “Interest Still Clings to Magic Waters of Mineral Springs at Hubbard.”  Oregonian.  8 Dec 1929, section 2, page 12.  These claims were made by George J. Wolfer, Clark Moor Will (Wolfer’s adopted son) and William H. Hubbard (son of the Donation Land Claimer Charles Hubbard), all interviewed by the author, Frances S. Twinings in 1929.

Mrs. Ralph Bair.  “Hubbard mineral Springs Possesses Long History.” Oregon Statesman. 6 October 1957, pg. 26.

  “Death Brings Close to Colorful Life of Old Merchant of Pioneers.” Capital Journal. 08 Nov 1930.

“Death Brings Close to Colorful Life of Old Merchant of Pioneers.” Capital Journal. 08 Nov 1930;

“From Hubbard.” Capital Journal.  11 Aug 1893; “Personal and Local.” Capital Journal. 5 Aug 1893, pg 4.

“Sunday’s Bike Run.” Oregon Statesman. 27 Jul 1897, last page.

“Personal and Local.” Capital Journal. 5 Aug 1893, pg. 4.

Advertisement, Oregonian, 20 July, 1927, pg 15; Advertisement Oregon Statesman. 16 Aug 1923, pg 3

“Sunday’s Bike Run.” Oregon Statesman. 27 Jul 1897, last page.

Oral History Interview with Ivan DeArmond, February 8, 1990.  WHC 2009.054.0032.

Mrs. Ralph Bair. “Hubbard Mineral Springs Possesses Long History.” Oregon Statesman. 6 Oct 1957.

“Sunday’s Bike Run.” Oregon Statesman. 27 Jul 1897, last page; “For Sale – Summer Resort and Mineral Springs.” Oregonian. 21 Apr 1920, pg. 21;

“Mrs. Ralph Bair. “Hubbard Mineral Springs possesses Long History.” Oregon Statesman. 6 Oct 1957.

“For Relief of Arthritis…”  Daily Captial Journal. 6 Mar 1953, page 10.

Mrs. Ralph Bair. “Hubbard Mineral Springs Possesses Long History.” Oregon Statesman. 6 Oct 1957.

Wright, Tom.  “Year Round Recreation Center Due Near Hubbard.”  Oregon Statesman.  4 Oct 1962, Section 2, page 11.

This article first appeared in the Winter 2017 Newsletter of the Willamette Heritage Center.  Written by Kylie Pine.

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