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Wilhoit took up a land claim in about 1866. There were attractive mineral
springs in the vicinity and Mr. Wilhoit operated a health and pleasure
By this 1882, Wilhoit Springs featured a road, post office, and hotel. The two springs (one sulfur, one soda) on John Wilhoit's old Donation Land Claim had been developed into one of Oregon's finest and most popular resort destinations by Frank W. McLeran. Along with the post office and hotel, it had its own cabins, bath houses, swimming pools and was serviced by daily stage service. At one point, a railway service was planned but never materialized.
According to an old brochure, local and international reputation of the springs dated back to the early 1870s. "The Springs have been known ever since the advent of the first white hunters, but the history of their rise to prominence among the other mineral springs of the world began in the decade preceding their formal recognition in a prominent illustrated German paper, 'Deutsche Hausohatz,' between the summers of 1884 and 1885." In 1899, the analysis of the water was written up in a book entitled, "The Mineral Waters of the United States and Their Therapeutic Uses".
For whatever reason, perhaps it was the sobering of the nation due to the World War or the failing economy, the resort entered into decline. Ownership changed hands but it never again equaled the successes while at its peak in the "Gay '90s." The post office was officially closed on September 29, 1928.6
The history of Wilhoit Mineral Springs is intertwined in our family's history. It was a place where generations spent free time relaxing, playing, picnicking, fellowshipping, and of course, enjoying the mineral waters.
In 1955, the property was even purchased and operated by our relatives, Al and Mabel Schoenborn. Uncle Al later sold the property to a developer. He was told that the intent was to restore the site to its heyday as a premier resort. Al ensured that our family was granted access rights to the waters in perpetuity. The developer never did anything with the land and from my understanding, the property was acquired by Clackamas County through default.
There was a period when the site was completely neglected. The buildings were all destroyed and demolished. Very little remains in the now near wild area to hint at its once prominent grandeur. The county even went as far as to pull well casings and seal the wells. After family members, and others complained, the artesian well was reopened and "non-potable water" signs installed.
In recent years, after becoming a county park, improvements to the spring head, plantings, and pathways have been completed. Family members still make regular excursions to stock up on the mineral water.
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