Nevada is full of geothermal activity and it’s not unusual to see steam escaping through fissures in the grounds or the occasional geyser shooting a column of water into the air as you roam the Silver State’s landscape. Northern Nevada alone has more than 220 naturally occurring hot springs, with which early inhabitants booked and bathed, while modern visitors take advantage for wellness and recreation. Before too long, clever entrepreneurs also reaped the benefit of the springs by charging folks a fee for the enjoyment and restorative powers of soaking in the mineral-filled pools of water.
John Canson, an Italian immigrant who arrived at Ellis Island in 1903, married in the Philippines and transformed his humble abode into a grand center of entertainment outside of Manila. In 1928, he arrived in Reno, divorcing his wife and purchasing two tracts of land from Jacob Meyer. The first was in the 1300 block of S. Virginia Street and included the old Litch House, while the second was a large tract of land south of Reno roughly across from the Steamboat Springs Resort. The first he sold, and the second soon became the site of Reno Hot Springs.
The ads for Reno Hot Springs boasted of the “high, healthful mineral count of the water” and offered cottages for rent by the week or month, with hot baths for $1 and a two-hour limit. Shortly thereafter, Canson was thinking even bigger and decided he wanted to bring on a team of staff to offer massages as well as build a large swimming pool filled with hot spring water. This was not just any pool – it was the largest mineralized swimming pool in America. Signs at the entrance would boast the amazing benefits of the mineralized water including the cures for high blood pressure, sciatica, neuralgia, obesity, kidney and bladder disease and auto-intoxication to name a few.
What ever happened to the famed Reno Hot Springs Resort and why did it disappear unlike the famed Steamboat Hot Springs and Carson Hot Springs? Check out the full article in Foot Prints from Debbie Hinman for the full scoop.
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About Historic Reno Preservation Society:
The scenario is all too familiar: the owner of a historic building suddenly announces plans to demolish it. They might label it as blight, “too far gone to save,” or simply outdated and in the way of the new, modern future they hope to construct in its place. There is an immediate outcry from community members who argue that the building is worth saving, and inevitably, someone who supports the demolition asks, “If you care about it so much, why didn’t you say something about it earlier?”
That perennial question is one of the reasons why we created Reno Historical in the first place. It’s also why it’s so fitting for the app and website to now be managed by the Historic Reno Preservation Society, because one of the driving forces behind both Reno Historical and HRPS is the belief that education is the key to appreciation. And when it comes to historic structures, one of the biggest challenges to their preservation is a lack of knowledge about them, the history they represent, and the stories they contain.
We launched Reno Historical in 2014, just as development was starting to pick up again after the extended economic downturn. That uptick in activity, which has only accelerated since, has put a lot of older buildings in the crosshairs. In the process, it has become clear that very often, those who own, purchase, or inhabit historic properties aren’t themselves aware of their history or the fact that anyone even cares about what happens to them.
Photos courtesy of Historic Reno Preservation Society & Neal Cobb