On a recent visit to Saratoga Springs, I learned the extensive history of the area’s natural mineral springs created millions of years ago. It stoked my longtime fascination with water. My love affair with water started in my youth, growing up in upstate New York.
I grew up on the shores of Oneida Lake in upstate New York, surrounded by water in every form. In the summer, the Verona Beach State Park and Sylvan Beach beaches were a haven to enjoy and have fun. In the winter, the snow piled so deep that, at times, we had to climb out of the front window just to remove the snow from the front door so we could open it. On the lake, where the ice was so thick, people drove their vehicles out to their ice fishing huts.
Growing up surrounded by an abundance of water, I was perplexed when I heard a neighbor say that we would be paying for water one day. Why?
It was the 1970s, and any thoughts of climate change were overshadowed by worries of the technological era of spaceship launches. Nuclear explosions were at the forefront of the news and collective thought processes.
As we have learned from hydrology experts, water is not a commodity that should be taken lightly or for granted as it is limited by nature.
According to the National Ground Water Association (NGWA), “The earth has an abundance of water, but unfortunately, only a small percentage (about 0.3 percent) is even usable by humans. The other 99.7 percent is in the oceans, soils, icecaps, and floating in the atmosphere. Still, much of the 0.3 percent that is usable is unattainable. Most of the water used by humans comes from rivers.”
The freshwater supply in Saratoga Springs is a national treasure. Natural mineral springs were created at the Saratoga Fault.
This geologic fault provided the break in shale layers to enable underground streams and a combination of gases and minerals to escape and rise to the surface as natural mineral springs. Water’s taste is impacted by the concentration of minerals such as iron, iodine, zinc, calcium, and magnesium, as well as many electrolytes.
The Mohawk Indians discovered the “healing” springs and believed the water to be a gift from the god Manitou. Introduced in the late 1700s to early settlers, believers of the proclaimed restorative water would later discover several more natural springs. By 1826, bottled water from these springs would be shipped worldwide.
The Saratoga Springs State Park buildings were built in the early 1930s and retain their original exterior appearance, with much of their architectural detailing intact.
The bottling plant was built in 1935. Mineral spring water from three different springs, Geyser, Coesa, and Hathorn, was bottled in iconic cobalt blue bottles and sold in the US and Canada. The coloring of the bottle came about as mineral spring water was once considered a healing tincture. It was fascinating to learn that the plant was in operation until the 1970s, when the New York state-run mineral water bottling plant closed because, at the time, the market for bottled water and, in particular, carbonated water was not popular. It is now the Saratoga Auto Museum, housing many antique cars.
Saratoga Springs Mineral Water bottling company has been in business for approximately 149 years, bottling the nation’s oldest natural and carbonated spring water. The day would not be complete without trying some refreshing natural cold spring mineral water. Carbonated mineral water is deliciously bubbly, refreshing, and has no calories. Like people throughout history, my taste buds recognized this was special water. It reminded me of champagne or Prosecco without the alcohol.
The Mineral Water Bottling Plant
The Mineral Water Bottling Plant was Constructed in 1935 and in operation until the 1970s. It may be hard to believe now, but miscalculation and disbelief that bottled water would never become a successful business enterprise led to its closure. It is now the Saratoga Auto Museum, housing many antique cars.
State Seal Springs Geyser Spring
As a part of the Clean Water and Air Act, the water originally bottled at the Bottling plant was rerouted to this Joseph L. Bruno Pavilion, where the public continues to bottle water from the spring today. This water was so refreshing, cold, and delicious. I wished that I had brought another bottle to fill up. For the courtesy of others who are partaking in bottling water, there is a limit of no more than two five-gallon containers.
Next, we visited the beautiful Hall of Springs and Reflecting Pool.
Constructed in the early 1930s and proclaimed one of the most beautiful buildings in America, the Hall signified the prominent beginning of spa development. With gratitude to President Franklin Roosevelt for preserving the Saratoga Springs Mineral Water area, bathhouses such as the Lincoln Bath House and Roosevelt Baths were created to protect and promote bathing in tempered effervescent mineral water. Known widely as “taking the cure” (associated with tension relief, rejuvenation, assumed healing, and medicinal benefits naturally), mineral water from the Geyser, Hathorn, and Coesa Springs was piped in for visitors to consume while walking or listening to live orchestra music.
Hall of Springs and Reflecting Pool
Hall of Springs and Reflecting Pool Circa early 1930s. This building signified the marked beginning of the spa development benefitting the mind and the body.
With its story-filled buildings, rich history, and delicious mineral spring water, it’s no wonder why guests feel great after their Saratoga Springs visit. I will be back to partake in a mineral bath, a concert at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and once again stoke my love affair with water.
To learn more about Saratoga Springs’ History, visit discoversaratoga.org.