Hot Springs Bath House
In the colorful history of Tenakee Springs nothing has been more central or constant than the hot springs and bathhouse.
The Tenakee hot springs and bathhouse are well known throughout Southeast Alaska. One of the highlights for boaters cruising these waters is a good hot bath and restorative soak.
Many Tenakee residents do not have showers or bathtubs in their cabins and rely entirely on the bathhouse hot spring for bathing. For residents, while the bathhouse is a pleasure, it is even more valued as an essential part of staying clean and comfortable in this remote Alaska location. Rules for bathing are posted and are taken seriously.
Even people living in newer houses with bath tubs or showers often prefer the bathhouse for the pleasure of a hot soak. Floating alone in the pool or visiting with other bathers are both special pleasures. Important personal, social and town information is passed along in the comfort of the steaming tub. Especially during the cold winter months, the bathhouse has always provided a warm and welcome place to meet with friends in a town that has few public amenities or other opportunities for entertainment.
The mineral water flows at a constant rate of about 7 gallons per minute and a temperature of about 106F. It bubbles up into a cement and stone tub that is about six feet by nine feet by five feet deep, set into the cement floor of the tub room. The overflow from the low lip of the tub drains through a small hole in one corner of the room. Even in deep winter, the tub room stays warm from the heat of the spring.
The changing room is separated from the tub room by a door and has benches and hooks for clothes and towels. Some years ago Sue Scriber and her late husband Paul, local artists, made and donated stained glass windows for this room.
The hot spring was originally an open pool draining into the tideland.
In 1900 it was enlarged and a log cabin was constructed over the pool area which was enclosed by a cement apron at about the same time. In 1920 or so a separate changing room was added.
The present tub room was constructed in 1939 with a sky-light cupola mounted on a flat-roof supported by poured concrete walls.
Volunteers formed a bathhouse committee in the 1930s to maintain the facility, a service still provided by volunteers. The bathhouse is not owned by the city and the bathhouse committee is an independent body.
Donations to keep the bath house clean and facility maintained are greatly appreciated and can by left at the Tenakee Market or The Bakery.