March 22nd, 2013

Awash in Red

Castle on the Hill

This is a place that Christina and I have been wanting to go back to for some time now.
Unfortunately, it is quite the trek for us, and we never found the time. That is, until recently, when we found ourselves on a road-trip
that placed us just one hour away from the town that this sanatorium is perched over. After we finished our obligations, we traveled out here
and stayed the night. We then filmed the location (fueled by terrible coffee), and proceeded with the five-hour drive home immediately following.
The lack of sleep mixed with a lengthy car ride was less than fun, but being able to visit this place again more than made up for it.

Just prior to the dawn of the 19th century, high on a mountainside overlooking a sleepy town which had come to nestle itself into the
valley below, a deafening roar burst forth from deep within the forest. The investigation made by the townspeople took little time
to discover the source of the disturbance – what they had all heard that day was the eruption of a new spring as it forced itself through
the earth's surface. For the centuries following, this new spring remained little more than a curiosity to the town far below.

That is until 1851, when young businessman came to hear of the mountainside spring, and decided that it would be the perfect place
to create a “water cure facility”. Hydrotherapy was a very popular practice during the mid-19th-century, and the newly erected water cure
facility opened it's doors for business in 1854, perched high upon the mountainside, overlooking the whole of the town below.
Unfortunately this endeavor proved short-lived and the original owner was forced to sell off within only a couple years. As time went on,
several owners tried to make a go of the business, but ultimately all of them also failed in their endeavors. So it was, even through
the best intentions and hard work of many, that the natural mountainside spring bore little fruit for the town and its people.
That is, until October 1858, when the facility finally found itself in capable hands.

This new owner had a vested interest in hydrotherapy and the medicinal properties of natural springs. His interest and knowledge in the
field having been brought on by long term illness earlier in his life. Dr. James Caleb Jackson, just years prior, had been at death's doorstep.
However, he made a miraculous recovery after his experimenting with hydrotherapy at a water cure facility. This life-changing event
made him one of the strongest hydrotherapy advocates of the day, and drove him to obtain a medical degree.
It seemed that if this facility was indeed going to survive, he would be the one to save it.

Restaffing with better-trained hydropathists, he also incorporated the teaching that a proper diet is key to a healthy life. No red meat,
sugar, coffee, tea, alcohol, or tobacco was allowed within these walls, instead focus was placed upon fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed grain.
In fact, it was within these very walls that the concept of cold breakfast cereal was first introduced.

By the 1870's the now-aging owner had turned the successful business over to his daughter-in-law, who had also obtained degrees in medicine.
However, in June 1882, a tremendous fire broke out - The flames of which devoured nearly the entire main building. It was feared
that the wide-spread damage would cause the water cure facility to close down for good. This was not the case though, and in October 1883
the facility reopened as a sanatorium. In place of wood, this new, larger structure was constructed completely of “absolutely fireproof" red brick.
The business continued to thrive, and in turn was passed along to the son and heir. Under the son's ownership business slowly stagnated,
as the general public one again lost interest in water-cures and the sanatorium. The facility was never able to right itself,
and eventually was forced to shutter its doors.

The building itself lived on in various forms for a while thereafter.
For a short time it even served as a post-World War I psychiatric hospital for veterans. After that it came into several more hands,
all of which attempted to re-establish it as a health resort, and all of which failed to do so. At this point things were looking quite bleak
for the once renowned sanatorium, and it seemed that its days of use were all but behind it. With spring comes rebirth however,
and in the spring of 1929 the facility once again found itself in competent and resourceful hands.

These 61-year-old hands belonged to an ex professional wrestler, and early advocate of body building - Bernarr MacFadden.
These hands were also responsible for the magazine Physical Culture, which was one of the cornerstones of the publishing empire
at the time. His popularity, along with his flair for health and nutritional education, revitalized the sanatorium to it's former glory.
No longer was the focus on hydrotherapy however, being as the practice of water-cure was all but dead during these “modern times”.
Instead, the resort now emphasized a wide array of physical activities to keep patrons in shape. Swimming, tennis, hiking, golf,
and various other therapeutic treatments were offered. The facility also became known as a haven for celebrities of the time who wished to
escape to the peace of the countryside. Having been aging at the time of purchase, the new owner passed away not long after, in 1955.
This was not before performing a parachute jump at the facility at the age of 81 though...

Shortly after that, the resort once again changed hands. However at this point history felt the need to repeat itself,
and the facility began to decline in popularity. The resort dragged on through a slow and withering death, eventually passing away in 1971.
Today only a decayed husk remains upon the wooded mountainside, it's sunken and unblinking eyes watching the town and valley far below.

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