History and Philosophy

The artesian springs on the shores of Bear Creek were revered by First Nation tribes as a birthing and ceremonial site.  Native Americans honored the warm springs as a zone of peace and neutrality – a “little Switzerland”, so to speak.  Elders share stories that warring nations put down their arms in the vicinity of the hot springs.

In his book Thunder Over the Ochoco, Gale Ontko identifies a Native American birthing site at warm pools along the California – Oregon border. Ontko tells stories of pregnant mothers visiting from as far away as Canada and Southern California to deliver their children in the warm, mineral springs. This ritual was later adopted by early Western settlers who would travel to the hot springs from the Colestein and Applegate valleys with their procession of midwives.

In 1862 Eugenia Jackson dedicated the artesian waters at the site that later bore her name “for healing and natatorium uses”.   At the turn of the Twentieth Century Jackson Hot Springs’ newly renovated swimming and hot water soaking pools opened to the public.  Over the next forty years Jackson Hot Springs was one of several resorts that contributed to Ashland’s reputation as a center for health and healing, bringing thousands to the city annually to “partake of the waters”.   Of the original resorts, only Jackson Hot Springs continues to provide healing mineral waters to Rogue Valley residents.

Honoring the regenerative capacity of Nature and Nature’s contribution to human health, Dr. Gerry Lehrburger purchased Jackson Hot Springs in 1995 for the intent purpose of developing a healing center, eco-resort and educational center.  He changed the property’s name to WellSprings.  

The tax-exempt Health Research Institute (HRI) moved to the property that same year – and the non-profit S.E.E.D.S. (Sustainable Eco-Economic Development Solutions) two years later - to insure that development proceeded in an ethical manner that assured environmental protection, health education, and sound economic principles based on ecological sustainability.  

It is WellSprings' intention to attract like-minded people who share the strong desire to enroll in a community that emphasizes personal responsibility, commitment, and integrity. Our spa members and event attendees are vital members of this community, as are our residents, staff, and volunteers. It is WellSprings’ hope to cultivate the building blocks that support healthy lives and ecological balance and sustainability by improving our warm water resources, garden soils and healthy forests, botanical gardens and seed reserves, and by introducing educational classes that foster self-reliance, personal growth and positive attitudes.