Adjacent to the famous Oregon Trail, the city of Soda Springs, Idaho, has a unique attraction known as the Soda Springs Geyser. The region has long been known for its geothermal activity. This particular geyser, however, was uncovered in 1937 during an attempt to find natural water for a swimming pool.
Mr. S.E. Mathews and other prominent residents of the Soda Springs area had long desired to tap into the natural supply of hot water to form a community swimming pool. In 1924, Mathews enlisted the help of a government geologist named Dr. Harold T. Stearns. Together, they explored the area looking for an appropriate spot to drill for scalding water. Dr. Stearns told Mathews that the location (now known as Geyser Park) would provide the water they were seeking. He guaranteed there would be hot water once they drilled 300 feet down.
Acquiring the necessary funds for the drilling was a challenge, but after thirteen years, the Soda Springs Geyser Co., Inc. was formed by twenty-one men (they did not refer to themselves by this name until after the geyser was discovered). By November 30, 1937, they had drilled 315 feet, but they were dangerously low on money and pipe for the job. That night, as the workers were eating supper, they heard what they thought was the roaring of the Union Pacific engine. However, when they went back outside, they discovered that the noise was not coming from the train, but a roaring geyser shooting 100 feet in the air. The geyser was the result of drilling into a subterranean chamber containing a mixture of carbon dioxide gas and water. With some difficulty, the geyser was capped, and the property was given to the city.
For the first few decades, police released the geyser on special occasions or when tourists came to see the marvelous phenomenon. Today, the Soda Springs geyser is manually controlled by the city and goes off every hour on the hour. On average, the geyser usually shoots water over 100 feet in the air with an estimated 2000 gallons of flowing per minute. The temperature of the water is roughly 72 degrees Fahrenheit. The water that flows from the geyser is soft water, which is unusual for a region that typically has extremely hard water. Viewing access to the geyser is free, but you may submit donations in the adjacent museum.