Taking the Plunge at Anoka

The Anoka Plunge Bath. NSHS RG3153-1-10

The “Hot Mineral Plunge Bath” at Anoka, Boyd County, fed by an artesian well, was constructed in 1907, just four years after the town was laid out in 1903 when the railroad built through the area. The town was named “Anoka,” after Anoka, Minnesota.  By 1905 it had thirty operating businesses, and by 1908, two newspapers (both published by druggists) and a baseball team.

The Anoka Herald on October 21, 1907, described the town’s most recent enterprise: a new plunge bath: “Depth of water, 5 feet, sloping to 8 feet, the bath tub [actually a small, concrete swimming pool] is 14×26 feet. The water is mineral and has a temperature of 90 degrees,” said to be unaffected by cold weather. Proprietors Forbes & Wilberger advertised family tickets until March 1, 1908, for $1.50, with single baths for just 25 cents. The plunge bath was still operating in October 1910 when several members of an excursion train boosting Lincoln took advantage of a stop in Anoka to relax in its soothing waters.

Warm artesian well water was also used for a bathhouse in the Boyd County town of Lynch and furnished power for electricity and a mill. The Lynch bathing facility was said to have a water temperature of about 88 degrees, just short of the 90 degrees advertised by its Anoka competitor. – Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor / Publications

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