Hot Wells

hotwells.JPG
[Hot Wells, Harris County, Texas]

Some maps of the Houston area identify a location on Highway 290 – across 290 from the Compaq campus, and just short of Cypress – called “Hot Wells”. See, for example, this Mapquest map of Hot Wells (Hot Wells appears in the bottom right corner of the map). This map marking is a reference to a hot artesian well once located in Harris County.

The artesian well was discovered by wildcatters, in 1904, on the heels of Humble Oil’s major oil discovery at Moonshine Hill (near Humble). The wildcatters lost their drill bit and, in the course of a two-week search for the bit, chanced upon the artestian well. It didn’t take long for someone to see the well’s money-making potential, and soon there was developed on the site the Houston Hot Well Sanitarium – a hotel resort of sorts where Houstonians and others went to enjoy the allegedly theraputic hot mineral waters. The resort was conveniently located right next to the Southern Pacific line that still runs parallel to 290 in that area. In addition to large concerte basins of mineral water in which guests would soak, the sanitarium also featured an Olympic-size swimming pool and a dancing/bingo hall. The resort appears to have been the only one of its kind ever developed in the Houston area.

While today the site is occupied by the Hot Wells Shooting Range, there are still some vestiges of the old Hot Wells to be seen. Some can be seen in the above satellite photo – or by switching the above Mapquest map to satellite view, and centering and zooming in on the “Hot Wells” site.

More information:
CFISD.net, “History of CFISD”

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23 responses to “Hot Wells

  1. I remember my dad taking the whole family to the big swimming pool at Hot Wells when I was a kid – it was his old stomping grounds (Cy-Fair HS Class of ’57). We’re all local yokels – I grew up in this area (JVHS Class of ’77). It’s been a long time…thanks for the information!

  2. i too went to hot wells in the 60s what a great place it was jvhs class of 77 jeff kubicek

  3. The ruin of hot wells is sad story. The City of Houston engulfed the area and demanded “health standards” which would have bankrupted the family who owned it. The city threatened to close down the whole place, so in desperation the family dynamited the lovely hot spring in its “home made” bath house which I recall well from childhood visits with my family. My dad was an old rodeo cowboy with bad arthritis from broken bones he got from getting tossed off bulls. The comfortably hot water really did relieve his aches and pains. The same family still owns the acreage, and lets out office space as well as running the shooting range. It is so sad to see the derelict olympic swimming pool which I remember being so bright and clean when I was a child. The family ran the place very well, I thought–the City was really nasty about not grandfathering the place and helping the owners adapt it gradually without bankrupting them. I have often wondered about the curious geology which is evidence of the only known geothermal resource in Harris County. One day this spring may flourish again; I hope the owners –a decent, hardworking family–are not swindled out of it.

    • badblogcollection

      “The City of Houston engulfed the area and demanded “health standards” which would have bankrupted the family who owned it.” – your account blaming the City of Houston for their demise is obviously not even remotely true as the site is well outside Houston city limits. More likely what happened is that by the early 1960s most Americans had lost interest in “taking the waters”, which led to the closure of very many resorts built around mineral springs if they didn’t have other draws. Look at the Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells, Texas. Hot Wells may have been able to limp along for a while on the loyalty of its old customers, but with the influx of new people into Houston because of the oil boom of the 1960s and 1970s, all these newcomers had no nostalgia for the Hot Wells and thus didn’t go there, and it simply wasn’t profitable anymore.

    • badblogcollection

      The website of the Hot Wells Shooting Range, run by the family that owned the pools in the 50s, gives the real reason the pools were closed, instead of R Wenner’s overwrought untruthful slander of the City of Houston:

      At one time it was not uncommon to have three to five hundred guests at the complex, but eventually with the growing popularity of backyard pools, and subdivision swimming facilities there was no longer enough business to keep Hot Wells open as a swimming complex.”

  4. Houstorian Tracey

    Thanks for the Hot Wells memories. Remarkable that a place like this existed so close to town. It would be really great to see some old photos – I wasn’t able to find any.

  5. Our family ‘made the trip’ to Hot Wells in the early 50′s…and it was as enjoyable as the other folks said. We’d go from a ‘cold pool’ and jump into the ‘hot’ pool—it really felt good.
    Back in 40′s-50′s that was quite a trip but well worth it.

  6. Thanks for the Hot Wells information. I just returned from the shooting range with my husband and son. The trip triggered memories of the Hot Wells I enjoyed as a kid. I remember the fun of the Olympic-sized pool as well the hot pool and the really hot one.

  7. I went to Hot Wells often as a kid – humble high school class of 79 – i always wondered what happened to it – thanks for the update

  8. Yeah, I rember too, CFHS class ’65. I remember the hot and hotter pools in the bath house, I remember my mom passing out from staying in them so long. Best thing I remember is the diving platforms, trying to get the nerve to jump off the top one. Later on the pool was often mirky and as kids we used to talk about dead bodies at the pool drain (not true of course ) but it was fun. We’d dive down but could never get to the bottom. I remember there was a lake where you could rent paddle boats and a pavillion. Man I wish it was still there.

  9. I, too, always wondered what happened to Hot Wells-one of my fondest memories from the 50′s. I lived in Spring Branch and we teenagers often gathered there on weekends. What a shame it’s gone. Was going to take my grandchildren to where I used to ‘play’. Guess I’ll just have to take them shooting. ;

  10. Terri Banagis-Mentch

    I remember first going to Hot Wells when I was a very small child living in Houston. Then we moved to the Cy-Fair area when I was 8 years old (CFHS class of ’74). I was THRILLED to live closer to the place that created so many wonderful memories! It’s a travisty to have let the younger generations NOT be able to experience the natural wonders of this place! Hopefully someone will come to their senses & turn it back to its original form. I remember my mom wouldn’t let us stay in the hot pool very long for fear of it making us pass out (as the above poster stated). She also told us that area chiropractors would send their patients to the hot pools to further their treatment.———Really wish my kids and grandkids could experience the wonders of this place as we did.

  11. Jennifer Williamson- Crawford

    I am 60 years old and as a child my Family went to HOT WELLS all the time as we lived off of Hempstead And Bingle Road. My parents would load up the neighborhood kids and off we would go. We came early and stayed late. The memories we made at Hot Wells we talk about today! I married and moved away to Califonia. We returned to retire in Texas. The first place I wanted to go to was HOT WELLS. Only to find out it is NO MORE and WHY. This saddens me to my soul. This wonderful historical place ended up like this. My parents knew the owners as they were always so kind to all. This is sovery sad as I won’t be able to share this happy place with any of my children and grandchildren. I am going to pray for this
    wonderful family that one day the hot wells and that fantastic poll will return. Please pray that same prayer with me….God Bless

    • badblogcollection

      Don’t believe the “WHY” this place closed down that R Wenner repeated. According to the website of Hot Wells Shooting Range, owned by the family that owned the pool from the 1950s till it closed:

      “At one time it was not uncommon to have three to five hundred guests at the complex, but eventually with the growing popularity of backyard pools, and subdivision swimming facilities there was no longer enough business to keep Hot Wells open as a swimming complex.”

  12. I have been hearing about the Hot wells for ever In doing some leg work I inquired at the gun range the people working there acted as if there never had been a well there I thought that was Odd… I have been to many hot springs locations all over the southwest. I live in houston and really wish this location could be redeveloped as the theraputic value of a modern hot tub pales in comparrison to an Artesian well.

  13. When i was a child we would go and spend the whole day and I loved the pool of hot water, I’m in my 60′s now and it would be nice to just sit in it and sock in the how water. M.L. Kestel

  14. Becky Stonecipher

    Hello all! I too remember going swimming at Hot Wells. I am a native Houstonian. My grandfather worked for Humble Oil by the way. Anyway, my parents took my brothers and I swimming at Hot Wells in the 60′s many times. I remember taking on the high dive–did a belly buster! I love these memories — thanks to everyone for sharing. RIP momma and daddy.

  15. Penelope Clement

    Am writing a book about the Houston area and would like to hear from anyone who knows who the original owner of the Houston Hot Well Hotel was, and when it opened. I understand it was also subject to litigation which went all the way to the Supreme Court.
    Thank you

    • badblogcollection

      I don’t believe that is true about the litigation going all the way to the Supreme Court. R Wenner is repeating a lie about the City of Houston closing this place down for health reasons. The website of the Hot Wells Shooting Range, owned by the family who owned the resort in the 50s through its closure, gives a good history of the resort, and its reasons for closure are pretty mundane – because of the rise of backyard pools and neighborhood swimming pools, people just stopped going:
      http://hotwellsshootingrange.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=46&Itemid=54
      It all began in 1904 when a group of wildcatters, drilling for oil in Cypress, lost their drill bit. During a two week search for their tool the men stumbled upon an artesian well and so began Houston Hot Well Hotel and Sanitarium. A two story hotel was constructed complete with two hot baths, a picnic area, and therapeutic hot mineral water. Families would come from all over to enjoy not only the healing powers of the artesian well, but the many other resort attractions.
      The original Hotel burnt down in 1955, but Hot Wells continued to grow as one of the regions foremost swimming facilities. During the 60′s Bud and Dallas Lamar purchased the facility and brought the resort to its peak including 2 mineral baths, an Olympic swimming pool, 10 acres of picnic grounds, and a huge pavilion complete with a juke box, concession stand, and plenty of room for dancing. At one time it was not uncommon to have three to five hundred guests at the complex, but eventually with the growing popularity of backyard pools, and subdivision swimming facilities there was no longer enough business to keep Hot Wells open as a swimming complex.
      Through the next couple years Hot Wells was host to several different business ventures including a brick factory, saw mill, and Bud’s Chiropractic Office.

      In 1973 Bud Lamar’s long time friend Tony Strezy suggested he open a shooting range, and with his wife’s blessing Bud opened Hot Wells Shooting Range later that year. A small pistol range and range house stood just south of what is today the 25yd rifle range. Two years later the range was extended to the north and the big range house was constructed along with a skeet/trap field that stood where the pistol range is today. At that time the machines were manually operated by all of Bud and Dallas’s children. When calling for a target the shooter would shout “Pull” for the high house, “Bird” for the low house, or “Mark” for doubles. The houses that contained the trap machines were made of iron plates with no roof, and on occasion the kids would be stuck pulling for 5 hours at a time. Needless to say, it was hot!

      In these early days, as a shooting range, business was slow at best, but over the last 30+ years the Lamar family has built one of Texas’s premier shooting ranges, all the while preserving a family friendly place where people of all levels of experience can come out and enjoy their second amendment rights.

  16. I was born and raised in Pasadena, Texas. My mother and Aunt would take me and my sister to Hot Wells. Wow, it was awesome! They used to say there was a underground room in the deep end…if you can make it to the bottom you could take a breath and come back up. I don’t know if this was true for I wasn’t able to make it to the bottom. However, the memories there will last a lifetime for me. I’m deeply saddened to hear that the swimming pool is no longer in use. What is wrong with people these days? Doesn’t
    anybody realize the healing attributes of this spring? Well I for one can!

  17. I too spent a lot of time in pool–in my teens…music and swimming–& picnic…does any one have pics? if so please share!

  18. I too remembered going to Hot Wells as a child. It had a huge swimming pool. The pool gave my hair a green tint one time. I remember 2 hot square pools to the right of the swimming pool. One had warm water and the other had hot water in it and algae growing in it. I never could get in the real hot one. I think my Dad’s work had a company picnic here. Seems like they had out houses too. This was in the early 50′s. I have been searching to find out where Hot Wells was. Many fond memories for me there.

  19. I remember it being wonderful.My MOM would soak in the hot tub while my sister and I dog paddeled in the pool.I remember the day a high diver did a flip and hit his head on the lower diving board.I believe he died.I remember the excitement and the ambulances.Being so young,it was all so amazing.Soda waters ,french-fries,hamburgers and bare -footed.1958/Clay Gray

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