The Desert Hot Springs Historical Society is dedicated to preserving, acquiring, and displaying the local history of Desert Hot Springs.
Posted on May 16, 2022
The homestead act of 1865 enabled adventurous, hardy souls to claim land where it was still available. The desert was free for the taking as homesteaders began to trickle in beginning around 1903.
Cabot Yerxa, one of the early homesteaders arrived in 1913. It was Cabot who is credited with the discovery of the natural hot and cold water springs the city is known for. Cabot built Eagle’s Nest, his first home which was a rock house dug into the side of a hill. Cabot developed ways to thrive in the desert. He built a trading post that served other homesteaders.
When the 1930’s began, Cabot introduced L.W. Coffee, a developer to the hot mineral water. To promote the water, Coffee built a bathhouse which opened it’s doors 1941. Coffee began laying out streets for a town he recorded and named Desert Hot Springs.
Also in 1941, Yerxa began building a pueblo style home and museum by hand and today is in the national register of historic places.
Around the same time, the warm mineral waters encouraged Dr. Robert Bingham to begin treating children crippled by polio during the epidemic of the 1940s. This led to the establishment of Angel View Crippled Children’s Hospital which continues today with many expanded programs to treat adults with disabilities, as well as, children.
It was the beginning of an unprecedented, remarkable time during the city’s history. When over 200 spas were in operation, the city became the spa capital of the world.
Another important period for the town was the Dude Ranch Era in the 40’s and 50’s. When the B-Bar-H Ranch was in full swing with celebrity clientele from Hollywood to New York.