Burgdorf

Idaho Historical Society
610 Julia Davis Drive
Boise, ID
January 1975
Number 437

Fred C. Burgdorf, a German emigrant, came to the United States a teenager. He came to Warrens in 1864 and heard of the hot springs from a Chinese miner while working in the area during 1866. The springs were initially called Warm Springs until Burgdorf settled on the land in 1870 and renamed his acquisition Resort. He eventually built a hotel and a post office there, August 1, 1898. At that time, John Lamb described Burgdorf's resort as having a bright future:

Nestled among lofty pines, twenty miles from the head of the smaller Payette Lake and nineteen miles from Warren, is a green meadow containing several hundred acres. It is a pretty piece of ground with a fine mountain stream flowing through it, which would be as clear as crystal were it not for the fact that the gold seeker has found out that tiny particles of the yellow metal are to be found in the gravel beds and has put his sluice boxes below them and is at work with pick and shovel. At one upper corner of this meadow one can see a cluster of rude log structures, none pretty, but substantial, and under the roof of one of these, which is divided into several rooms, can be found two log crib-bed pools, about six by ten feet in size and four feet in depth, in each of which is boiling up from the bottom strong streams of water strongly impregnated with sulphur and just hot enough to permit one to hold his hand in it without scalding it. The water flowing out of these two tanks runs into two plunge baths, each four to six feet in depth and 25 X 75 feet in area, where the water becomes slightly cooler and is just delightful to swim in. These pools have a structure surrounding them and a canvas roof over them. They, like the tanks of the fountain, are strongly cribbed with hewn timber, and are neat and clean. There are nice dressing rooms in the building. The fact that there is no sawmill within a long distance of this place has added much to the labor of building, but has added largely to its rustic attractiveness. The groves, or rather great forests of tall, straight and slender black pines which cover the adjacent hills, have provided the material, and the broad-ax, skillfully handled, has shaped them for handsome walls, with the frow, adze and jack plane have been employed to work out lumber for puncheon floors, shake roofs and split clapboards, and only the sash and doors have come from a factory.

Nearly thirty years ago, while Warren and Florence were still enjoying the boom and prosperity of those old time placer mining excitements, a cleaver young German who had been at the German Spas, saw there springs and their future possibilities, coveted their ownership and acquired it. Far as they were in the depth of an Idaho pine forest, he squatted there and has remained. He has never even left there long enough to go back to the Faderland to find him a frau, and now the only thing that can be said against his is that he is an old bachelor, though as good natured and genial, as big-hearted as old bachelors are want to be. His name is Fred C. Burgdorf. When you get acquainted with him you will like him sure. Well, Fred has lived there twenty years, fenced in the greater part of the big meadow, accumulated a herd of cattle cuts hay for their winter feed, built the next of structures for his home, and runs a summer resort, partly because he likes to have nice people around him, but chiefly because he could not keep them away from such an attractive place if he tried. Hunters and health-seekers come here during the summer from Northern Idaho and Western Washington and fill up the place. (It was within three miles of there that the cinnamon bear confronted our party.)

When, in the future, there are better roads and improved facilities for reaching this delightful spot and enjoying its splendid baths and invigorating air and fine scenery, it will become a fashionable resort. (De Lamar Nugget, quoted in the Idaho World (Idaho City), September 2, 1898.)

A similar article in the Lewiston Tribune, August 18, 1900, describes Burgdorf's resort at length:

Fred Burgdorff's Warm Springs, which has become probably Idaho's most famous pleasure resort, has entertained the usual number of visitors this summer. They are coming and going all the time and just now some fifteen persons are stopping at the hotel, while a number are camped in the nearby groves. It is wonderful how far one will travel and what hardships undergo to get to this wild retreat; but once here, what a delight! To the weary traveler after miles and miles of mountain climbing, it seems to be the fountain Ponce de Leon was seeking in Florida several centuries ago. He who has made the trip on horseback, especially if he is not accustomed to that mode of exercise, is very grateful for a plunge in the pool. The fare is as varied and sumptuous as one could wish and the landlord, Fred Burgdorff, has a warm handshake and smile for everyone. For over thirty years he has lived here and no one has ever been his guest but that had a good word for his hospitable and warm-hearted old bachelor.

He foreclosed a $500 mortgage on the property some thirty years ago, but the government never had any land surveyed in this section until two years ago. On the 7th of next month Mr. Burgdorf will make his final proof and secure legal title to the property he has held so long. The springs were first taken up in '64, two years before the government passed a law prohibiting the taking of hot springs. An offer of $20,000 has been refused for the place, and then absolute title has been secured, it is probable if Mr. Burgdorf does not sell he will spend considerable time traveling and seeing something of the progress of the world during the many years that he has been cooped up in this wilderness. Many improvements have been made in the place in the last few years. There are now two large pools, one for ladies, the other for men, each 65 X 25 feet, with hot pools 8 X 10. Cold water shower baths can also be taken by those so inclined. The water, which possesses most excellent medicinal and cleansing properties, especially for sufferers from rheumatism, kidney complaint, disordered blood and general debility, flows at the rage of 6,000 gallons per hour. The temperature of this water is 113 while the altitude of the springs is 6500 feet. A two story annex 30 X 30 feet is just being completed to the hotel, giving eight additional sleeping rooms and a large parlor for the ladies.

When interest in the Thunder Mountain country began to develop, his location on the route from Grangeville to the mining sites proved to be fortunate. By 1902, a major gold rush to Thunder Mountain built up traffic greatly, justifying enlargement of the Burgdorf Hotel. In 1902, he married Jannette Foronsard, a singer from Denver, and it was she who changed the name Resort to Burgdorf. When his wife died in 1923, Burgdorf sold his interests and retired in Weiser. During the Depression, construction of a forest road up French Creek through Burgdorf by the CCC improved the accessibility for travelers. The hotel, rebuilt after a fire, continued to operate until 1964. The latest hotel still stands. The swimming pool and resort cabins are presently utilized in the summer and fall. Burgdorf, in fact, in one of Idaho's oldest resorts.

2013 - Burgdorf is open year around. It is accessible on a groomed snowmobile trail during the winter months. The road is generally driveable from Memorial Day Weekend until November. Check this website for road conditions. You can rent a cabin by the night or enjoy the pools during the day.