There was a bustle of activity in Beulah at the turn of the century, folks were eager to travel for rest or recreation to the southern Colorado mountains, enjoying most of the same amenities that still draw people to the area, today. Mountain scenery, shade, pine-scented trails, horseback riding and Soda Springs all lay at the end of the Beulah Road. Initially visitors would travel by a regular stage or horseback, but eventuallly they made the trip in an open-air car. For many, including the developer of the site, the potential for healing in Beulah’s Soda and Iron Springs offered hope for a repreive from pain and fatigue. The fountains of Beulah Soda and Iron Springs would be at the center of a new development called Beulah Springs.
Located on the west end of the Beulah Valley, the natural mineral springs along Middle Creek were originally referred to as Deer Lick or Ula Springs by early dwellers and settlers of the area. By 1879, the spot drew the attention of Captain W. (Woodford) F. Townsend, and ultimately his partners, Norman Richards and David Boggs.
Indeed, Captain Townsend’s interest in Beulah Springs was personal, he moved to Colorado because of his own failing health, after the death of his first wife and daughter. In a time when the leading cause of death in the nation was Tuberculosis (a disease caused by bacteria called mycobacterium tuberculosis, which attacks the lungs, potentially damaging other parts of the body), some patients sought the health benefits of high altitudes, sunshine and mineral water. Beulah had all three components, which compelled Townsend to make the decision to purchase the 20-acre property.
The article of incorporation reads “To create and maintain a health and pleasure resort, to buy, sell, and operate in lands, lots, hotels, springs, canyons, streams, waters and pleasure grounds and to do any and all things, incident to the attraction of guests and purchasers, seeking health repose or pleasure in the recesses of the Rocky Mountains.
According to an 1881 article entitled History of the Arkansas Valley, Townsend started practicing law in May 1879, also serving as superintendent of the South Pueblo Water Company. He was one of the incorporators of the Pueblo Street Railway, and a member of the Board of Directors and Attorney for the company. He was City Attorney for South Pueblo, and a local Attorney for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.
W.F.’s son S.W. Townsend gives his father credit for a prosperous and elegant time in Beulah’s history in a 1934 interview. “Major Townsend discovered the advantages of Beulah as a health resort, and from then on sought to promote the valley as a perfect haven of rest. Since then Beulah has enjoyed progress and prosperity.”
He continues, “Beulah enjoys the privileges of her natural beauty. She is located in the Greenhorn Range of the Rocky Mountains, which are sometimes referred to as the “Wet Mountains”. The mountains of the region are fortunate in having numerous streams, and that the plant life approaches that of semi-tropical regions. Right in Beulah are located several mineral springs, the largest of these being designated the “Soda Springs”. These springs are of both soda and iron and the value of the mineral qualities of the springs is attested by many of the users.”
Townsend and Richards used the local paper to advertise their newly platted Beulah Springs, touting ‘A Quiet and Cheap Summer Resort’, boasting ‘Four Kinds of Water.’ Townsend was also part owner of the Alta Vista Hotel, encouraging guests to stay just up the hill from the mineral springs. The partners constructed two slab pine gazebos over the fountains, adding a fence to keep the multitude of local milk cows out of the springs.
Playing at the location as a child in the 1940’s, Beulah local Ilona Wahl recalled the two cement pits were each covered by wooden lids.
In keeping with their vision of an elegant society, Townsend and Richards named some Beulah Springs blocks after great writers; Shakespeare, Byron and Dickens. Lot names corresponded with each of the author’s characters, i.e., Romeo and Brutus; Copperfield and Squeers.
The ‘Japanese Block’ of the plat indicates a lot called ‘Mikado’, as well as other ‘oriental names of the time’ including “Ko Ko, Yum Yum and Hanki Poo”. The thoughtful planners included paths named Lovers Amble and Raving Hobo Avenue to move visitors around the new district.
A report published in 1891 by Frank Hall entitled “History of the State of Colorado’ describes the efforts to bring urban development to Beulah “Questions of litigation retarded settlement until the spring of 1880, when W. F. Townsend and Judge N.P. Richards bought twenty acres, including the Mineral Springs, and erected cottages for summer visitors from Pueblo.” Further describing “In the summer of 1882, the town [Beulah Springs] was platted and several houses built.” By 1890, businesses included six stores, two hotels, and some forty houses.”
By 1919, the newly purchased 611 acre Pueblo Mountain Park and Squirrel Creek Recreation area brought even more people to the area in search of recreation.
In a letter to Susie Donley, Leila Craig remembers the popular site. “Of course you have the data on the “Soda” Springs that used to be at the end of the road through Beulah down the grade to Middle Creek, there were several mineral spas there together. We used to go there and make lemonade; they were destroyed by a flood and never cleaned out again, which was a shame.”
However, according to “Tour Beulah’s Historic, Unusual and Forgotten Places by Marilyn Klipfel Brehe Beulah’s new water line signaled the end of the public Soda Springs, and further development of Beulah Springs. “In the 1930’s the Beulah Water works system, financed by the Works Progress Administration began to lay pipe to take water form Middle Creek into Beulah. The source of the mineral water was closed off when dynamiting trenches to lay the pipe. Shorty Parker, powder man for the project was killed in an accident  involving a dynamite explosion at the site. The Soda Springs site was then abandoned.”
The original Beulah Water Works District installed in 1938, and the water intake was located at Soda Springs, close to where the bridge over Middle Creek now connects Grand and Central Avenues.
S. W. Townsend confirms that his father eventually deeded the “Soda Springs” in the ‘early days to Pueblo County for upkeep.
By 1941, the Beulah Home Demonstration Club was lobbying County commissioners to provide improvements to the road at Soda Springs, after receiving years of heavy use by trucks from the nearby Lime quarry. Pueblo County completes the task in August of the same year.
In the 1950’s, Dick Amman recalls The gazebos were still in place, but the Soda Springs were not active, and there was no fence surrounding the fountains. “The gazebos were torn down, as I recall, sometime in the 1960's.”
Today, a wider and paved Grand Avenue crosses over a half of the old Soda Springs site, most people would never know the spot existed. However, despite the passage of 140 years since Townsend’s progressive ideas for healthy living, one thing remains constant. The Beulah mountains still draw you in, and fill you up; leaving you peaceful, rested and restored.
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