Harbin Hot Springs is a non-profit hot spring retreat and workshop center at Harbin Springs in Lake County, Northern California. Named after Matthew Harbin, a pioneer who settled in the Lake County area. It is located about two hours northeast of the San Francisco Bay Area, in the United States. The facility was partially destroyed in the Valley Fire in September 2015, and was temporarily closed.[1] In January 2019 it partially reopened, including the main pools and sauna, and a limited cafeteria service.[2]

Harbin Hot Springs
Harbin Hot Springs in 1915
Harbin Hot Springs in 1915
Harbin Hot Springs is located in California
Harbin Hot Springs
Harbin Hot Springs
Harbin Hot Springs is located in the United States
Harbin Hot Springs
Harbin Hot Springs
Coordinates: 38°47′15″N 122°39′14″W / 38.78742°N 122.65379°W / 38.78742; -122.65379
CountryUnited States
CountyLake County
Harbin Hot Springs on Facebook

Location Edit

The springs are 20 miles (32 km) north of Calistoga, 3.5 miles (5.6 km) northwest of Middletown,[3] and ten miles south of Clear Lake. They are at an elevation of about 1,568 feet (478 m).[4] Three springs, known as the Arsenic, Iron and Sulphur springs, rise close together in a ravine on the west of a branch of Putah Creek.[5] The hills near Harbin Springs have steep slopes of exposed shale, but there is a belt of amphibolite schist starting about 25 yards (23 m) above the springs.[6]

Springs Edit

A 1909 report said the Arsenic, Iron and Sulphur springs yielded water at temperaturesof 90 °F (32 °C), 116 °F (47 °C) and 120 °F (49 °C) at rates of 1 US gallon per minute (230 L/h), 12 US gallon per minute (110 L/h) and 8.5 US gallons per minute (1,900 L/h) respectively.[7] A 1914 report listed the springs and their temperatures as: Hot Sulphur, 120.5 °F (49.2 °C); Iron, 118 °F (48 °C); Magnesia, 66 °F (19 °C); Cold White Sulphur, 76 °F (24 °C); Mud Foot Bath, 101 °F (38 °C) in the water on top and 121 °F (49 °C) in the mud and fine rocks below. The flow from Hot Sulphur was said to be 1,500 US gallons per hour (5,700 L/h). A fresh water spring filled a 30,000 US gallons (110,000 L; 25,000 imp gal) tank in two days, which was used for fire purposes.[3]

History Edit

The springs had been used by the local people before European settlers arrived.[3] Around 1856 a settler named James M. Harbin took control of the land occupied by the Harbin Hot Springs, and gave his name to the Harbin Springs and the Harbin Mountain that rises above the springs.[8] By 1870 a new owner, Richard Williams, had built the Harbin Springs Health and Pleasure Resort, with a large hotel on the slope below the springs.[8] The region is prone to wildfires and, over the years, successive lodges have been rebuilt when they burned down.[9]

By 1909 there were accommodations for around 200 people in a hotel, a three-story rooming house, eight or ten cottages and a dozen tent houses. A large building held a gymnasium and dancing floor.[10] In 1913 they were owned by Mrs. Margaret Matthews of Vallejo, who was leasing them to Booth, Carr and Booth. The resort could accommodate 300 people. There were two steam baths and two swimming pools, of which the larger was outdoors. One of the steam baths was a covered pool from the Hot Sulphur spring.[3] Harbin Hot Springs issued several postcards advertising the resort in the 1920s and 1930s.[9]

By 1969 the property was owned by Sandia Corporation, which was interested in the potential for geothermal energy. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the property was run as a commune with the name Harbinger commune,[11] "centered around a man named Don Hamrick, a charismatic fellow who wore business suits and combined science with spiritualism in his lectures/sermons". In 1969, Harbinger had about 120 people, but ultimately, the community did not thrive.[12] In 1972 Robert Hartley bought the property and renovated the run-down facilities.

He sold it to Heart Consciousness Church in 1992.[8] As of 2012, the clothing-optional retreat center was known as an outdoor spa with a New Age ambiance, where Watsu was developed.[13]

The resort was evacuated because of the Valley Fire on September 12, 2015.[14][15] By September 14, Harbin was almost completely destroyed by the fire with only the pool complex largely intact.[16] SunRay Kelly had designed and built the Harbin Hot Springs Temple, a yoga and meditation space, which burned down in 2015.[17][18] In January 2019 it partially reopened, including the main pools and sauna, and a limited cafeteria service.[2]

Modern establishment Edit

Robert Hartley (also known as Ishvara) bought the land in 1972 to be a Gestalt center.[19] Sold to the Heart Consciousness Church (HCC) in 1975, Harbin/HCC operates as a Retreat Center.[20] Harbin/HCC maintains a more specifically religious organization, the New Age Church of Being, incorporated in 1996. Harbin is a center for the expression of New Age beliefs. Harbin's clothing-optional policy, its pools, and the natural beauty of the local landscape are part of Harbin's appeal to visitors, who must agree to membership, if only temporarily, for admission.

Harbin has been a center for the development of new modes of healing and personal development, including Watsu (water shiatsu), a massage technique created by Harold Dull at Harbin in the early 1980s.[13] Watsu, based on gently moving the body through water, is now practiced in spas throughout the world.[21][22][23]

References Edit

  1. ^ "Harbin News". myemail.constantcontact.com. September 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Clothing optional resort Harbin Hot Springs reopens its pools 3 years after wildfire". sfgate.com. Retrieved 2021-05-06.
  3. ^ a b c d Hamilton 1915, p. 218.
  4. ^ Harbin Springs USGS.
  5. ^ Waring 1915, pp. 93–94.
  6. ^ Waring 1915, p. 95.
  7. ^ Waring 1915, p. 9.
  8. ^ a b c History of the Springs.
  9. ^ a b Klages 1991.
  10. ^ Waring 1915, p. 94.
  11. ^ "Harbinger commune - Don Hamrick & disciples". The Bob Fitch Photography Archive. Stanford University. Retrieved 2021-05-26.
  12. ^ Wester 2009.
  13. ^ a b "Watsu - Dr. Weil's Wellness Therapies". Archived from the original on September 15, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
  14. ^ "Wildfire Forces Evacuation".
  15. ^ Rossman, Randi; Payne, Paul (September 13, 2015). "Valley Fire: Devastation During the Night as Fire Destroys Homes". Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  16. ^ Sernoffsky, Evan (September 14, 2015). "Harbin Hot Springs Ravaged by Valley Fire". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  17. ^ Tortorello, Michael (2012-11-28). "An Ungated Community". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-05-03.
  18. ^ Moon, Freda (2021-04-26). "California's historic nudist retreat is back after ruinous fire". SFGATE. Retrieved 2022-05-03.
  19. ^ Ishvara 2002.
  20. ^ McCroskey, Mia (October 30, 2007). "Confessions of a Therme Addict – Harbin Hot Springs, Middletown, California, USA". BootsnAll. Retrieved November 26, 2014.
  21. ^ "Watsu". Watsu NYC. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
  22. ^ "Welcome to Healing Dance "Proof"". Retrieved September 18, 2012.
  23. ^ "Watsu India". Archived from the original on October 22, 2012. Retrieved September 18, 2012.

Sources Edit

Further reading Edit

  • MacLeod, Scott (2021). Light, Float, Sit, Watsu ~ Virtually: Bodymind Electricity Sings to Me at Harbin Hot Springs & Other Traveling Poems. Poetry Press at World University and School. ISBN 9780578834689.