About Purgatory Springs

- The Miraculous Water -

Restorative Waters and Mountain Air

Situated at the mouth of Nunda Canyon in southern Colorado, Purgatory Springs was renowned for its curative mineral waters and healing hot springs. In the early 19th Century, the town bloomed, often called the “Coney Island of the Rockies” as it became an international destination for travelers in search of the cure, clean dry mountain air, and restorative water. Hundreds of consumptive patients found a home at the sanatorium built on the high plateau overlooking the valley.

Purgatory Springs was known as the Coney Island of the Rockies.

Prof. Patricia Scamahorn, Rocky Mountain Utopia

Resorts and casinos lined the banks of the famed Purgatory Creek. The famed Schueler’s Brewery exported spring-feed pilsner beer around the world, and Purgatory Springs Water was practically a household name. And by the mid-1930s, the town was abandoned, except for some counter-culture holdouts, radical taxidermists, and so-called “misfits.”

Penny Arcades along pool and mountains
Brochure image of railroad hotel

As a pleasure resort, Purgatory Springs presents to the tourist more objects of scenic interest than any resort of a like character in the old or new world, while its wonderful effervescent and mineral springs, soda and iron make it the favorite resting place for invalids.

The great superiority of Purgatory’s climate is found in its dryness and even temperature the year round. In summer the cool breezes from the mountains temper the heat, the nights always being cool enough to allow that refreshing sleep so grateful to all and most needed by the invalid.

Of all Nature’s lovely spots few equal and none surpass in beauty of location, grandeur of surroundings and sublimity of scenery this veritable “Gem of the Rockies.”

Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Tourist Handbook 1896

The elevation is over a mile above sea-level and the pure dry air of the mountains is particularly strengthening to all who suffer from throat or lung troubles and specifically alleviating for asthma, hay fever, and consumption.

Purgatory Springs Water: The Panacea for All

The mineral springs are good for the following diseases: Acid dyspepsia, sour stomach, pyrosis, flatulence, kidney complaints, smarting, stinging pains in the back, bladder complaints, Bright’s disease, diabetes, weakness from any cause, loss of appetite or strength, consumption, etc.

The soda spring—resembles in taste and properties the Apollinaris water— and the iron springs, if it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger.

Dr. Cyrus Rubottom

Many excellent small hotels, besides cottages which may be rented for a period of weeks or months.

A pleasant funicular railroad readily provides transport to the Consumptive Retreat and Sanatorium, as well as public access to a spectacular promontory of the Spanish Peaks and the “Blood of Christ Mountains.”

Patients in beds on balcony

Recollections from Purgatory Springs