News flash: historic Wilbur Hot Springs lodge burns


                                                                                                                     (photo, wilburhotsprings.com)

It's a sad day for soaking enthusiasts, particularly for those who live in Northern California. The main lodge of the wonderful historic, Wilbur Hot Springs (about two-hours north of San Francisco) has burned down.

Here's a link to the news story. It happened Saturday morning, March 29th, with fire crews being dispatched at around 10:40 am. No one appears to have been hurt.

I discovered Wilbur Hot Springs just recently. It was, thankfully, a minimally developed hot springs resort. The accommodations were simple, more like a bed and breakfast than a modern hotel. There was no restaurant, and blissfully, no TVs. It's main strength was how carefully the soaking area was constructed in relation to the natural surroundings and the old buildings. Wilbur offered world class mineral hot springs: outdoor soaking in hot water with high mineral content in a quiet and peaceful setting.

The springs soaking area does not appear to be affected by the fire but the lodge was a central part of the experience and identity of the facility. Even though it suffered from sometimes disjointed remodels and re-stylings, it remained a grand old historic building (1915). It's original construction must have been a considerable achievement given how isolated the location was at the time. The lodge was big and old and it had a very homey feel that included shared bunk rooms and a large communal kitchen and community dining areas. There was a pleasant congenial atmosphere to the space where guests from around the world felt welcome to sit in the library and dining areas and talk with each other. 

I was impressed with how the facility was off-grind and powered entirely (I think year round) with photovoltaic solar panels. The communal kitchen had something like four or five very high-efficiency Sun Frost refrigerators for guest use.

While the old lodge can never be replaced, we hope that something similar will re-open so the soaking can go on.