Early settlers and entrepreneurs Isaac Cooper and Walter Devereux saw the potential for Glenwood Springs to become a destination for wealthy spa-goers and had visions of developing the hot spring amenities into a world class resort. But before that could happen, much work had to be done.
The Yampah spring surfaced on the north bank of the Grand (Colorado) River, just across from a large island located in the middle of the river. In order to allow for the necessary room to build an enormous pool and all the related buildings including the stone bathhouse, it would be necessary to divert the entire flow of the river to the south side of the island so that the island could become part of the north bank. Diverting the river was quite an engineering feat and one that required a huge labor force. The inmates at the local jail were thus put to work, and with all the fights that broke out due to the gambling, saloons, and brothels along the riverfront, there was no shortage of workers. With the river diversion complete, efforts turned to building the world’s largest mineral hot springs pool and an opulent bathhouse complete with a men’s only gambling casino. The pool and bathhouse opened to much fanfare in 1888 and did indeed attract wealthy visitors from Europe and the East Coast. Over the years, the Glenwood Colorado Hot Springs have had many incarnations including serving as the exclusive enclave of the privileged, an armed services rehabilitation center during WWII, and finally, as the family-friendly resort destination that it is today.