LA’s water gets weird

October 27, 2009 § 7 Comments


in Southern CA Practitioner, Vol XXXII-1885-on file UC Med Center Library SFran

From Google Books: Southern California Practitioner, Vol XXXII. 1885. University of California Medical Center Library, San Francisco

I know it’s all hindsight, but I think I’ll stick to Tiger Balm, thanks.  I’m still working on the details, these springs were located at 5663 Melrose Avenue, between Larchmont and El Centro “near the old village of Colegrove.”  There were small surface streams in the area, but can’t confirm surface irradiated springs at this time, and I consider it highly unlikely.  The Bimini and Oxford hot springs were from wells, so that’s a possibility here. There were actual sulphur springs at the base of the Hollywood Hills.

Now if you really are looking for a radioactive (former) stream, try the filled ravine at the VA in Brentwood.  That’s one of our lost streams.  Low-level radioactive waste was dumped in there in (I believe) the 50s- and was setting off geiger counters and tempers a few years back.


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§ 7 Responses to LA’s water gets weird

  • opit says: might help add to your collection. I also note water related topics at the bottom of RSS SnapShot! posts under SideBar Search.

  • Joe Linton says:

    Very cool. I think that the “Melrose Ave. Cars Direct to Springs” is actually transit (streetcar) directions – yay! Perhaps I will take the streetcar over there soon and see what they can do for my “Female Troubles” (jk)

    • Jessica Hall says:

      Yeah, I am used to thinking that radiation and “female troubles” have more of a cause-and-effect relationship. More chisme on the springs: “most likely from an oil test well that was dug in 1905” – which makes me wonder about the 1885 advertisement, I will have to double-check the date on it. Also, Radium Sulphur Springs also went by the name “Hollywood Spa” at one point.

      • Jessica Hall says:

        And our fearless reader D. KImbrough also forwarded an LA Times story referring to the Radium Sulphur Springs down at White’s Point. I remember playing at the ruins of that old bathhouse as a kid, and had read once that the natural hot spring down there puts out water in the 110-113° range. From Five Views: An Ethnic Historic Site Survey for California:

        Ramon Sepulveda with the help of Tamiji Tagami piped sulphur water into a pool, and built a hotel…This was the White Point Health Resort, consisting of sulphur water baths, an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a children’s pool, and a sulphur hole. Japanese Americans, who were prohibited from enjoying other hot springs, as well as other people from all parts of California came to enjoy the water and the weather. In the early 1920s, the hot springs, referred to by the Japanese as “onsen,” were bustling with many Fujinkai picnics.

        I’ll keep working on this bit of history…anyone with details to add, bring it on!

  • tim2kirk says:

    So cool. I really enjoyed this.

  • LA MapNerd says:

    There’s still an operating hot spring spa – Beverly Hot Springs – at 308 N. Oxford, about a mile from Gower and Melrose.

    Their website copy says:

    Originally discovered by an unknown oil wildcatter around the turn of the century and “rediscovered” in 1931, the well’s contents sold for drinking water at 10 cents a gallon. Now, many years later, the area boasts a beautiful facility where the public can relax and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the only natural mineral thermal spa in Los Angeles. The balmy waters of the Beverly Hot Springs gush from a natural artesian well 2,200 feet beneath the earth’s surface. The water issuing from the hot spring is heated by geothermal heat, essentially heat from the Earth’s interior. Hot springs contain various minerals and elements such as alkaline, radium, sulfur, sodium and alkaline sodium chloride, which have healing properties and health benefits.

    Note that they mention radium and sulphur, and that their spring was “discovered by an oil wildcatter” – likely this is the same thermal aquifer as supplied the spring on Melrose.

    Radium is actually fairly common in a lot of groundwater – it’s a component of naturally occurring minerals like pitchblende. The LADWP Water Quality Report for 2003 gives levels of Radium from <.05-1.0 picocuries per liter in the combined San Fernando Valley well fields, for example. Thermal springs can easily have more, since the hot water dissolves more minerals.

    You can see a scan of a brochure for the Radium Sulphur Springs on Melrose that sold a couple of years ago on eBay, complete with an engraving of the building, here.

    Oh! how it sparkles, Oh! How it foams!
    It chases a microbe wherever it roams.

    The scan is a bit hard to read, but it confirms that you could take Yellow cars marked “Melrose Avenue” to get there.

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