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Hot Springs: Soaking Away the Winter Blahs

Situated in northwestern Montana, the community of Hot Springs is aptly named after its abundance of hot mineral springs and mud baths. The local Indians and settlers believed the natural waters and hot mud had healing powers. There are three locations where you can indulge yourself and soak away your mental and physical aches and pains.

One location is at the edge of town. It was originally called Camas Hot Springs and is owned by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. The springs receive little upkeep, but they are free. This site includes two hot water plunges, each roughly three feet deep. There is also a gazebo with a shallow mud bath in which visitors can soak. Known as the “corn hole” this mud foot bath is rumored to remove corns by soaking your feet for several hours in it. There are no lifeguards here and alcohol of any sort is prohibited. There is a public restroom equipped with water hoses to wash off the mud.

If you want to move upscale a notch for your soaks, try the historic Symes Hotel in town. They have baths and a new outdoor mineral swimming pool and spa which are open to the public for a small admission charge.

Near Hot Springs off of Highway 28 is the Wild Horse Hot Springs. Here you can rent private rooms with plunges and steam saunas and restrooms by the hour.

Call the Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce at 741-2662 for more information.

Reprinted from “The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia.”

This Date in History: January 18, 1803
Instituting the Corps of Discovery

In a letter to Congress on January 18, 1803, President Thomas Jefferson requested $2,500 to fund an expedition seeking a route leading to the Columbia River’s headwaters and ultimately the Pacific Ocean. Jefferson’s proposal included an official “Corps of Discovery,” guided primarily by the adventurous Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. While mapping the region, the pair and their entourage would collect scientific data about plants and animals encountered along the way, as well as document any encounters with the area’s native peoples.

According to Jefferson, the trip was overall extremely important to America’s future commerce. In a race to squelch British influence, Jefferson’s Corp of Discovery would extend trade to the Pacific Ocean before England had the opportunity to do so, and at the same time, the corp would persuade native peoples to associate with American traders instead of the British. Noting the urgency and enthusiasm of Jefferson’s request, Congress approved the expedition. The famous passage of Lewis and Clark began just one year later, and their journey shaped the history of Montana and the American West.

Montana Wildlife Trivia

* In 1900, moose were though to be extinct in Montana outside of Yellowstone National Park. Today, there are over 8,000 of these prehistoric-looking creatures roaming the state.

* Supposedly you can predict the weather by watching mountain goats. If they’re high on the mountain, expect good weather. If they’r congregating in low lying areas, there is probably a storm on the way. The mountain goat, by the way, is really not a goat. It is related to the antelope.

* In 1873, 1,508,000 bison hides were shipped to St. Louis from Montana. In 1874, only 158,000 were shipped.

* 80,730 wolves were killed in Montana between 1883 and 1915.

* Montana is a pretty crowded place. Per square mile there are 1.4 elk, 1.4 pronghorn antelope, 3.3 deer, 896 catchable fish, and fewer than 6 people.

* While driving in Montana, watch out for wildlife on the roads. Over 1,800 cars collide with wild animals every year in the Treasure State.

* On a domestic note, cows outnumber humans in Montana three to one!

* Ten percent of grizzly bears in the northern Rockies die of natural causes. The other ninety percent are killed by humans. On average, only one human is killed each year by a grizzly.

Excerpted from “The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encylopedia”

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