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Murrieta Hot Springs, California (Images of America Series)

Murrieta Hot Springs, California (Images of America Series)

by Rebecca Farnbach, Loretta Barnett, Marvin Curran, Tony Guenther

The sulfurous, effervescent waters of Murrieta Hot Springs have long attracted visitors. Native American petroglyph and pictograph images directed weary travelers to the springs where Juan Murrieta later bathed his sheep and a San Diego firm laundered clothing. In 1902, an enterprising German immigrant named Fritz Guenther developed acreage around the springs into


The sulfurous, effervescent waters of Murrieta Hot Springs have long attracted visitors. Native American petroglyph and pictograph images directed weary travelers to the springs where Juan Murrieta later bathed his sheep and a San Diego firm laundered clothing. In 1902, an enterprising German immigrant named Fritz Guenther developed acreage around the springs into a world-class resort and health spa at the Murrieta Hot Springs. After the Guenther family sold the resort, a stream of owners reportedly laundered money for the Teamsters Union and vended cancer cures, vegetarian foods, and holistic philosophies to those who ventured near enough to inhale sulfur rising in thick clouds of steam. Now the springs bubble under the watchful eye of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. They have renovated the grounds and buildings to honor the resort’s former glory and have developed it into Calvary Chapel Bible College and Conference Center.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Title: A Look Back: Murrieta Hot Springs, once a grand place for getting away

Author: Vanessa Ebbeling

Publisher: The Press-Enterprise

Date: 3/27/2010

For more than a century, travelers have been drawn to geothermal springs in Murrieta for their supposed healing properties and natural beauty.

From Native Americans to modern-day citizens seeking respite, a tract of land that sits just north of Murrieta Hot Springs road has offered generations a sense of healing and peace, said local historian and author Rebecca Farnbach, who co-wrote the book, "Images of America: Murrieta Hot Springs."

"The hot springs have always been a getaway place," Farnbach said, "a place of serenity."

Legend has it that sheepherder Juan Murrieta -- the man the town is named for -- bathed his sheep in the springs before shearing them. The sulfuric water cleaned the wool and enabled Murrieta to charge a higher price.

For years herders and residents visited the springs to heal illnesses and wounds.

By the early 1900s, belief in the healing powers of the hot springs had caught on.

A San Diego doctor sent his patients north to bathe in the springs. A local laundry company offered a three-day turnaround to wash San Diegans' dirty clothes in the warm waters.

German bar owner Fristz Guenther saw an opportunity and in 1902, opened a world-class resort that would attract travelers from all over the country. Guests arrived by train where they were picked up by twice-daily shuttles from the hotel. Most stayed for long periods of time, two weeks or a month, to enjoy bathing in the springs, mud baths and massages. The hotel was known for its fine dining and entertainment.

Success stretched on for decades, but by the 1950s Americans' concept of vacations had changed and the resort fell somewhat out of favor.

In 1970 the property was sold to businessman Irvin J. Kahn and a partner Morris Shenker, who had ties to the Teamsters Union, Farnbach said.

Jimmy Hoffa vacationed at the resort shortly before his disappearance, Farnbach said.

In 1983, the building was acquired by Alive Polarity, a vegetarian group that promoted healthy lifestyles. They placed ads in The Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine hoping to attract guests from the New York City area.

A vegetarian restaurant at the resort was popular among tourists and locals.

By the end of the 1980s, the resort was sold again and sat vacant and deteriorating for many years. Current owners, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, acquired the property in 1995 and have since restored it to its former glory, Farnbach said.

Today, the resort property is used as a conference and retreat center and Bible college.

Publication: Valley News

Article Title: Book explores hot springs history

Author: Staff Writer

Date: 11/14/2008

Calvary Christian Conference Center and Bible College invite the public to the book launch of “Images of America: Murrieta Hot Springs” on Sunday, Nov. 16, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Calvary Campus, the historical Murrieta Hot Springs.

Signed copies of the new book will be available and the public may meet the authors, Tony Guenther (great-grandson of the hot springs founder), Marvin Curran (retired chief of the Murrieta Fire Department), Loretta Barnett and Rebecca Farnbach (local historians and authors).

Vintage cars will be positioned to recreate some of the historical photographs presented in the book.

Tours of the historic buildings and grounds will be available and refreshments will be served.

For more information, contact Rebecca at (951) 699-5148.

Title: Anyone seen Jimmy Hoffa?


Publication: North County Times

Date: 11/16/2008

Good Sunday morning to you. We'll be back at The Mill for breakfast today.

Here's a rare chance not only to experience history, but take some of it home with you.

From 2-5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16, the authors of a new book, "Images of America: Murrieta Hot Springs" will be at the former resort, and current Bible college, autographing copies of their latest work.

The public is invited not only to check out the book, but tour the grounds of what once was a world-famous resort and spa.

The book comes from Arcadia Publishing, which specializes in local and regional history books.

Arcadia has previously published books about Murrieta, Temecula, Menifee Valley and other Southwest County communities.

The authors of the Murrieta Hot Springs book are longtime area residents Marv Curran and Loretta Barnett, author and historian Rebecca Farnbach and Tony Guenther, great-grandson of Fritz Guenther, who founded the resort in the early 1900s.

The history of Murrieta Hot Springs is as colorful as any you'll find in this area.

The therapeutic value of the hot springs were known by American Indians for centuries before Europeans came to the valley.

Community namesake Juan Murrieta washed his sheep in the springs. In the 1880s, a San Diego laundry business sent its clothes by train to Murrieta to be cleaned in the spring's invigorating waters.

Fritz Guenther bought the 200-acre property in 1902 and established the successful resort.

Guenther added many of the buildings and other facilities that made Murrieta Hot Springs famous.

The resort attracted people from all over, including some of Hollywood's biggest stars, among them Jack Benny and his wife, Mary.

The Guenther family ran the resort until they sold the property in 1970.

That's when things got a little weird.

Subsequent owners are said to have laundered money for the Teamsters Union through the resort. Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa is reported to have been seen there shortly before disappearing in 1975.

About that time, a self-proclaimed doctor of philosophy leased the hot springs and set up a clinic that promised to cure cancer using a diet of lemon juice and water. Desperate patients came from all over, as did the television show "60 Minutes," which did an expose on the clinic that helped put it out of business.

In the early 1980s, the 300-member group Alive Polarity bought the resort and turned it into a vegetarian commune.

The commune lasted a few years.

In 1995, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa bought the property for use as a Bible college.

Touring the former resort ---- which is on Murrieta Hot Springs Road and usually closed to the public ---- is a rare treat, as is this new book, which sells for $22.

Visit www.arcadiapublishing.com.

Product Details

Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date:
Images of America Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.20(w) x 6.44(h) x 0.39(d)

Meet the Author

Tony Guenther, Fritz Guenther’s great-grandson, shares his never-before-seen photograph collection in this volume. Marvin Curran and Loretta Barnett tell their memories of the heyday of the springs as Rebecca Farnbach, a freelance writer, weaves the stories together. Barnett and Farnbach authored Images of America: Temecula, Images of America: Murrieta, and Images of America: Fallbrook. Curran also coauthored Images of America: Murrieta.

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