Yellow Mist

View Another Adventureexpand_moreexpand_less
menu
November 4, 2010

I ride alongside river mist made molten by winter’s morning sun past sites once famous, the destination for thousands, now almost forgotten.

photo_camera

Camera Settings

http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/11536413483
infoinfo_outline

In twelve years of bicycle commuting, I’ve seen it plenty. But it’s still striking, the mist and November sun seeming to light a fire on the water.

Orange arches
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
Orange arches
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/11536418593
infoinfo_outline
Stop and look
photo_camera

Camera Settings

Stop and look
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/11536337374
infoinfo_outline
A fish just jumped
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
A fish just jumped
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/11536371306
infoinfo_outline
Warm Springs
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
Warm Springs
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/11536300735
infoinfo_outline

Ground fog blanketed the Warm Springs golf course like steam from the namesake subterranean waters tapped there in the late 1800s to heat 200 nearby buildings including a large indoor swimming pool, Boise’s famous natatorium, which would have risen in front of me when it stood.

Natatorium*
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
Natatorium*
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/11536350184
infoinfo_outline

The natatorium pool was 65 by 125 feet and “supplied direct from the artesian wells which furnish in excess of 1,000,000 gallons per day of natural hot water at a temperature of 170 degrees.”² The facility also offered a steam bath, massage, an upstairs café, ballroom and a dance floor overlooking the pool. Swanky! Idaho’s first inaugural Governor’s Ball was held there in 1901.² After forty years in operation, a windstorm blew off part of its roof in 1934 and the rest had to be torn down.³

  1. starEarly 1900s photo 1981-A from the Idaho State Historical Society: idahohistory.cdmhost.com/…/1
  2. Idaho Statesman, “Chicago to Pattern a Natatorium After Ours” (August 9, 1906)
  3. Boise City Department of Arts & History, “History of the Natatorium”: boiseartsandhistory.org/…/history-of-the-natatorium
  4. Idaho Office of Energy Resources: energy.idaho.gov/…/history
Municipal Park
photo_camera

Camera Settings

mapmap
Municipal Park
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/11536353694
infoinfo_outline

Past the new natatorium, now just a regular, outdoor public pool, unheated, I always pass through Municipal Park where I usually see a few mule deer and a lonely sign along the path describing the park’s vibrant history.

Boise Tourist Park*
photo_camera

Camera Settings

Boise Tourist Park*
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/11536316345
infoinfo_outline

The park began as a campground. Purchased by the Boise School District in 1910 for a baseball stadium, the land instead became the popular Boise Tourist Park in 1918. From 6,000 visitors per season, “traffic increased to 20,000 cars a year” after World War I.¹ It’s unusual amenities, like the natural hot water, and I’m sure the nearby natatorium, brought national fame.

  1. starIdaho Statesman, “Boise Tourist Park Has Nationwide Fame” (August 1, 1920)
  2. Boise Parks & Recreation, “Municipal Park”: parks.cityofboise.org/…/municipal-park
Municipal from above (upper left)*
photo_camera

Camera Settings

Municipal from above (upper left)*
http://flickr.com/photos/trailimage/11536394416
infoinfo_outline

The park’s popularity invited vagrancy. The city, who bought the land in 1927, decided to close the park in 1938, just a few years after the demise of the natatorium. It was later re-opened as a regular public park with a baseball field.

For decades the natatorium and tourist park attracted thousands. Now I pass them many times without seeing another soul. Who knows what will be here in future decades.

  1. starCirca 1950s photo by Franklin Carr from Boise State University digital archives: digital.boisestate.edu/…/4