Pacific Hot Springs Lodge Is A Popular Coast Spa
By Mabel Plaskett
High on a cliff overlooking the bluff, Pacific Hot Springs Lodge is located. This was one of the largest encampments of the Caselasi Indians and the dark fertile earth is rich from the Indian shell mounds.
The story of the hot springs goes far back in history. Probably the first inhabitants were the squat-faced Esselans coming from Alaska hundreds of years ago. One can imagine them clearing the land of lilac and greasewood making their rude dwellings and going to the sea daily for the mussels and other forms of fish which was their principal diet.
Just when or why these early Indians left is not known but when the San Antonio Mission was established in 1771 trails had been made over the mountains by the Indian tribe who came for fish and also to bathe in the healing waters. The earlier tribe called the place “Taki tak” or “place of healing.”
IN 1880 Tom Slate, who lived in Monterey, suffered from arthritis so badly that he was confined to bed. An old Indian came up the coast telling of the wonderful waters coming out of the mountain in the South and Slate’s friends urged him to make the trip.
As he was unable to walk they made a rude littler and carried him over the trail to the “place of healing.” The results were magical. Within six months he was able to walk and so great was his enthusiasm he took up a homestead, moved his family from Monterey and enjoyed good health at the hot springs for many years. Slates Hot Springs is still the most familiar name for the place.
In 1910, Dr. H. C. Murphy bought the springs and the adjacent land with the intention of building a spa. The work was planned, but with the war and the coast black out it was a slow process and it was not until after the coast highway was completed that construction got under way.
After years of mismanagement by various overseers, the Murphy family decided to operate the famous springs themselves and Michael Murphy makes his home there. He has, in Warren Squires, an able manager who keeps the restaurant open the year around. It has become famous for Monday night smorgasbords and varied menus. Plans are being made for the development of the property as a combination resort and seminar center.
SEMINARS HAVE been conducted since April of this year and will continue into the fall. Professors from leading universities are among the leaders. Fritz Faiss, artist and teacher, will be in residence at the Springs from July 8 to August 2. He will be available for individual and group instruction in painting and sculpture. Faiss studied with Rudolph Steiner in Germany before coming to this country and his works are exhibited by museums in Europe and America.
Events for this coming year include besides the seminars a series of readings by outstanding west coast poets.
The hot springs are located on a cliff some 50 feet above the ocean where the hot waters gush out of the rocky mountain side. A path leads from the Lodge above to the bath houses.
There is opportunity for hiking along Hot Springs Creek Canyon close at hand, to play ping pong, volley ball or read in the lounge.
Artisans of Big Sur, the Guild of Hands, have a gallery in the lodge where some of their wares—vases, sandals, leather jerkins, hand woven skirts and caps sell at less than they would at shops elsewhere.
EMIL WHITE lives nearby and many notables visit Big Sur Hot Springs, its present official title.
Here are a few excerpts from author Henry Miller:
“When. You are planning that trip from the wilds of Alaska to the wilds of Patagonia along International Route No. 1, be sure to make provision for a stop off at Slate’s Hot Springs about three miles south of Anderson Creek. Here you will find a spa which has not yet become internationally famous, chiefly because it has not been commercially exploited. Founded some 50 years ago by Dr. H. C. Murphy of Salinas, it remains today almost the way it was when that wise physician made use of its therapeutic value in treating his patients.
“Before you die, before you concede that your problems are insoluble, try a week at Slate’s Hot Springs. It may alter the course of your whole life. It may not only cure your complaints, real or imaginary, but it may push you into a new way of life based on relaxation, tolerance, and purposelessness.”
Mabel Sans Plaskett was born in Coralitas near Ben Lomond in the Santa Cruz Mountain area of California. Her father Edward Robert Sans ran a saw mill near Pacific Valley, along the Nacimiento – Ferguson road to the coast at Highway One. It was there she met Edward Abbott Plaskett, her husband. Mabel wrote about the coast and the pioneers of the 19th and 20th Centuries.