The History of Fairmont!!
Long before the white man knew about the hot springs, Native American tribes such as the Flathead, Nez Perce and Shoshone set up tepees in the surrounding trees. The Native Americans called the twelve hot pools “Medicine Waters”.
The Gregson Brothers
In 1869, George and Eli Gregson acquired the hot springs from a squatter named Hulbert for $60. The brothers also took up claim to the 320 acres surrounding the springs. The Gregson brothers initially went into the dairy business. In the years to come, George and Eli turned their attention to the twelve pools of hot mineral water. They built a well-furnished and equipped two story hotel that could accommodate 50 to 60 guests, a plunge bath and five large bathing rooms. Away from the main building a bar room and separate sleeping apartments were constructed. A covered flume was used to conduct the hot and cold water to the bath houses. The cold water was taken from a pure cold stream flowing about 700 yards south of the hotel.
The springs offered cures for rheumatism and arthritis plus other types of ailments. It was also said a savory soup could be made by adding salt and pepper to the hot spring water. The soup was then consumed in the hopes of curing various ailments.
Gregson Hot Springs
The Gregson Resort was leased in 1890 to Miles French. In 1892 a townsite was plotted and lots for villa sites 45 x 125 feet were laid out. On December 9, 1893 the Butte Miner carried a story dealing with the dedication of the townsite. The same paper also reported on the new B and P Depot that had been built at Gregson. In 1901 the Gregson Resort was sold to Con Hays and James Breen.
Many organizations and clubs held their annual picnics and parties at the springs. On August 12, 1912 the Butte Miners held the most infamous. Fourteen thousand people took part in the event. A brawl broke out between the Anaconda Smelterman and the Butte Miners in which the mob ranged from the hills to the ranchlands. Two men died as a result of the disturbance. At the inquest, the judge could not determine what really occurred, so no one was prosecuted.
The 1914 Fires
On December 23, 1914 the dance hall and some adjoining buildings caught fire. One week and one day later, the hotel plunge and other buildings caught fire and burned. Both fires were blamed on faulty wiring. At the time of the fires, Gregson was owned by the Montana Hot Springs Association. In 1916 George Forsythe bought Gregson. Sometime in 1944 or 1945, Treasure State Industries took over Gregson. In 1971 the resort was closed because the walls were collapsing. Gregson had been in existence for over 100 years.
The Gregson Surveyor’s Picnic was held on August 29, 1971. This was the last chance to see the old Gregson Hot Springs before the new construction began. The Montana Standard advertised this event and the Anaconda Leader printed a special souvenir edition on August 29, 1971 showing the history of Gregson Hot Springs. People from all over the state of Montana attended the event.
The New Resort
On July 10, 1971 it was reported in The Montana Standard that federal funds would help build a complex including an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, picnic area, outdoor pool and 190 guest rooms. The complex’s setting would also allow hunting, fishing, horseback riding, skiing and snowmobiling. In 1972 the remaining old buildings were demolished to make way for the new complex.
Fairmont Hot Springs Resort
In early 1972, Lloyd Wilder of Fairmont Hot Springs, British Columbia, became the prime owner of Gregson Hot Springs. Joe Reber of Reber Contractors from Helena started the rebuilding of Gregson as a new complex. The architect, Ken Knight of Great Falls, designed it to be a cross of structures with an indoor pool 80 x 120 feet and a larger outdoor pool. Hotel rooms were in the south and west wings, lobby and shops in the center and dining rooms and convention center to the north. Lloyd Wilder sold Fairmont Hot Springs Resort to Leroy Mayes in 1981. In 1990 Lloyd Wilder repurchased Fairmont Hot Springs Resort to continue with his vision of providing complete resort services.
Today, Fairmont Hot Springs Resort is one of the most complete resort destinations in Montana. The resort is popular with families, business people, conventioneers and travelers from Montana, the United States and the world.