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Folklore has that the name of Sleeping Child Hot Springs came about as a result of a skirmish between two native tribes.

Because one of the tribes was outnumbered, women were pressed into battle. This meant having leave their young children behind. After the battle was over, the women anxiously returned to the springs, wondering if their children were still okay.

As they approached the springs, they heard nothing through the mist. But, as the got closer, they discovered that the warmth of the springs and the mist had protected their young ones. All were contentedly sleeping as if their mothers had never left their sides.

Thus was born the name of the springs — Sleeping Child.

Hot springs were considered by Native tribes in North America to be sacred places where the “Great Spirit” lived. Because of this belief, the heat and mineral waters afforded miraculous healing powers (perhaps a little placebo effect at work?). However, sodium bicarbonate and calcium found in mineral hot springs in fact do help improve circulation in the body.

The 130 degree waters of Sleeping Child Hot Springs flow at a rate of 200 gallons per minute.

Legend has it that these hot springs were traded for a band of horses in the late 1800s. Since the mid 1890s, the springs have been operated as a for-profit site.

Throughout most of the 20th century, the springs and swimming pool have been open to the public for swimming, bathing, parties, overnight guests and other get-togethers.

For instance, in the 1950s, adults could swim for 50 cents, and children for 35 cents. You could also rent a suit for only 15 cents. Later in the 60s, you could have private swim lessons for $4, or 10 lessons for $10 for children.

Sometime around 1996, new owner Ed Chopot closed the springs to the public, tore down the old A-frame hotel, and erected a five-story, 25,000 square foot lodge. The complex included a dozen bedrooms, 18 bathrooms, a seven-car garage, an elevator, rooftop solarium, a helipad and five self-contained guest houses. Chopot planned to turn the property into a world-class resort, but those dreams never materialized.

Chopot became a multimillionaire from owning several mills. When he sold his last mill, he distributed $1.5 million to his employees. While he was often generous to a fault, he had one unfortunate flaw – he loved big-stakes gambling. Casinos would send their private jets to Spokane to pick up Chopot for trips to Las Vegas. You have to be a big-time gambler (and ultimately, loser) to warrant that kind of treatment.

But shortly after the turn of the century, he began running up unpaid gambling debts at five casinos, including $3.5 million at the MGM Casino. Even so, he continued on in his losing streak and by the time he disappeared in 2003, he owed $12 million to various casinos.

Soon, the casinos began falling all over each other to foreclose on anything Chopot owned, including his prized resort, worth an estimated $9 to $10 million.

Two years later, his body was found in an upscale apartment complex in a village not far from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica. Local police stated that Chopot had been murdered after suffering severe wounds to the head causing a massive amount of blood loss. To this day, the murder remains unsolved.

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