Magnetic Healing Springs

The discovery of the magnetic springs happened in St. Louis, Michigan, in 1869. A group of men were drilling a well, in hopes of tapping into an underground source of brine. The plan was to bring the water up and let it evaporate. The salt left behind could be sold. They did hit underground water, but it wasn't brine. In fact, they claim it was magnetic. Allegedly, metal objects dipped into the water, became magnetized. That wasn't all. One of the workmen suffered from arthritis in his hands. Within a couple of days of getting his hands wet in the new well water, he noticed significant relief, from the pain and swelling. The story of the apparent curative powers spread quickly, and within just a couple of years, St. Louis, Michigan became the destination for thousands of folks heading for the curative baths. 


Celebrities were among those who hurried to Michigan including, General Hooker of Civil War fame, Allan Pinkerton, and Salmon P. Chase. Documented cures were so numerous, that at a time when most roads were mere trails, and railroads scarce, St. Louis received mail deliveries 24 times per week. There were churches, libraries, an opera house and first-class hotels. It is said that the incredible success of those magnetic springs, led to the “discovery” of healing springs, in several other towns around Michigan.

St. Louis is a small town in the “middle of the mitten”. The spas and bathhouses are long gone, but there is still some beautiful architecture around town. The opera house has been converted and the magnetic well has been capped. The history of St. Louis during the magnetic springs boom days is full of amazing stories. The local historical society can provide some of the details from that unique time. The book “The Saratoga of the West” tells the whole story.  This town was famous as a Michigan getaway.