The town of Thermopolis sprang to life as travelers journeyed to its hot mineral springs. The Plaza Hotel, originally known as the Callaghan Apartments, was on of six hotels built in the park in the early 1900s. The beautiful two-story structure provided lodging for people seeking access to the healing waters of the Big Spring. It originally housed 70 rooms, divided into fourteen sections, each hall containing a common bathing room.
James Callaghan, a master bricklayer, built kilns along the banks of the Big Horn River for firing bricks used in constructing the hotel. Mr. Callaghan and his wife Hazel operated the hotel for a short time after its completion in 1918. Dr. P.W. Metz purchased the Callaghan Apartments in 1921 and renamed it the Plaza Hotel and Apartments.
The Plaza Hotel is the only remaining hotel in Hot Springs State Park from the era of early commercialization. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993 and renovated in 1999.
Healing the Sick
In 1886, James McLaughlin, United States Indian Inspector, reported to the Department of the Interior his findings and opinions of Big Springs.
"The water of this spring is said to possess wonderful curative properties and to be very beneficial for rheumatic and other ailments, and although the temperature is 132
degrees it is not unpleasant to drink, and with salt and pepper added tastes very much like fresh chicken broth."
Word of the water's healing power spread and people poured into this area in search of relief from their pains.