The Blue Mountain Eagle
December 12, 1968

A historical landmark in Grant County was destroyed Saturday evening when a fire razed the former Mt. Vernon Hot Springs. It was the residence for Roy Kilpatrick, a John Day lawyer, and his family. The Kilpatricks lost almost all of their belongings in the blaze. A damage estimate is not available.

Firemen from Mt. Vernon, John Day, and the State Forestry Department were unable to save the building which was engulfed with flames when the Mt. Vernon firemen first arrived at the scene.

A spokesman for the Mt. Vernon fire department said the blaze apparently started when a hot ember from a fireplace landed on the roof.

Mrs. Blanche Kilpatrick first noticed a glow outside the window while talking on the telephone. Roy went outside to check and discovered the roof burning.

Mt. Vernon firemen responded to the call at about 8:30 P.M. The fire was contained in the upper two floors until the water supply was depleted. The swimming pool and a nearby pond were pumped dry. Assisting the Mt. Vernon firemen were the John Day fire department and the State Forestry Department from John Day.

Mt. Vernon firemen completed mop-up activities at about 4:30 A.M. Sunday.

No immediate plans were announced by the Kilpatricks.

The Mt. Vernon Hot Springs Hotel was built around 1905 and was a health resort operated by H.A. Murphy. He published a brochure "Brewed in the Earth" extolling the benefits of the hot mineral water.

During the summer months the hot springs would have an appearance of a tented city with people coming from all over the northwest to cure or seek relief from their ailments. It was an attraction for those suffering from rheumatism and arthritis.

Room and board was $10 a week. And for $4 more, one could have the best room with a private bath and have special meals. The charge for campers using the baths and other facilities was $2 a week.

According to the brochure, "This popular resort is not a hospital. The doctor with his white apron and the strong odor of drugs are not here to remind the ailing of their malady. The groans of the sick, the troubles of the afflicted and the odor of medicine are all absent here. There is nothing but the cheerful surroundings of those who are taking the pleasant cure."

In 1912 Murphy sold the resort. But it was still a popular gathering spot of the local citizens for 4th of July celebrations, dances and other events. The swimming pool was a special attraction until it was ruined by a flood in recent years.

H.H. Hendricks was the owner of the resort area from 1922 to 1941 when he sold it to Dr. R.H. Jenkins. The resort was converted into a sanitarium. It sold again in 1946 to Ralph Bowen who retained ownership until 1957. Then Tom and Flora Negus of Mt. Vernon operated a nursing home at the former hotel.

Mr. and Mrs. Miles Standley and Mr. and Mrs. Robert Ellis were owners from 1961 until 1965 when they sold to Carl Sheedy. Sheedy sold the resort to the Kilpatricks in 1966.

The three-story structure was heated on the first floor by the hot water from the springs, going through pipes under the floor. During the summer months the water was diverted from entering the pipes.

For many of the county's residents, the landmark will be missed.

1998 Roxann Gess Smith
All Rights Reserved

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