|March 13, 2014
Rose’s Plunge & Big Medicine Plunge invites you to soak
By Adriana Fehrs
A snowy scene sets on Rose’s Plunge, a tribally owned local soaking spot in Hot Springs. The plunge has been in operation since 2000; it is open seven days a week, eight a.m. to five p.m., and is only five dollars a soak. (Adriana Fehrs photo)
HOT SPRINGS — Leroy and Rose O’Bennick have co-owed two mineral soaking spots in Hot Springs for about thirteen years: Rose’s Plunge and the Big Medicine Plunge. The couple took it upon themselves to provide a place for people to enjoy the hot mineral water after the bathhouse shutdown in the 1970’s.
Rose and Leroy met in 1959 at the Arlee Powwow, and were married soon after. They raised five children and have seven grandkids, and four great grand kids.
Leroy O’Bennick, owner of the Big Medicine Plunge, stands below the rustic sign for his plunge. A full day pass for the plunge is only eight dollars, and a four-hour pass (one soak) is five dollars. Leroy says he empties the eight-foot by twenty-foot pool every night, and refills it around six-thirty a.m. every morning. (Adriana Fehrs photo)
Before starting up their own ‘plunges’, Leroy worked as a logger, owned his own sawmill, and built log houses for a living; Rose worked at a rest home as a Certified Nursing Assistant.
In 1986 Leroy built a bowling alley, which would later on become the location for Rose’s Plunge. Unfortunately the bowling alley closed in 1991 from lack of business. In the mean while, Leroy took care of the abandoned bathhouse property. He says “I saw people abusing the bathhouse property, and I took it upon myself to close up the water tank, where people were soaking.”
Leroy leased 80 acres from the Tribe and from there he piped the hot mineral water down to the old bowling alley. Leroy built matching eight-foot by twenty-foot concrete pools on the property, renaming the old bowling alley ‘Rose’s Plunge’, and naming the other pool, which is located farther out into the property, the ‘Big Medicine Plunge’. He says he situated the pools so “the water could be plumbed from the wells.” In 2000, they opened both plunges.
The concrete eight-foot by twenty-foot pool at Rose’s Plunge in Hot Springs is emptied every night and refilled at sixth-thirty a.m. every morning. The plunge is located in the Camas Recreation Center at 240 Chrisholm Road, and is open seven days a week from eight a.m. to five p.m. or later. (Adriana Fehrs photo)
Rose’s Plunge started out as a gift shop – selling hand made Native American crafts, and soaking pool combo but soon included a yoga studio, known as the Camas Recreation Center. Leroy says, “We are tribal members who decided to become entrepreneurs. We saw a need to satisfy the hot water wants of the tribe and acted on it.” A four-hour pass to soak is five dollars, and a whole day pass is eight dollars.
The Big Medicine Plunge includes an assortment of features. People can come soak in the mineral pool for five dollars, or eight dollars for a full day. There are three twelve-by-twelve foot cabins on the property that are $25 per night. In the summer there are tipis available to stay in for $20 per night. RV electrical hookups are available for $25 a night, and camping is only $5 a night. Another feature of the property is the 21-acre 18 basket gaming park - where professional Frisbee-golf tournaments regularly take place. Jim Ship, their business advisor, takes care of the property for them. Leroy says, “He keeps the disc golf course running, and he fixes the plumbing.”
The sign for the Camas Big Medicine property of Hot Springs depicts prices and directions to different portions of the large 80-acre property. (Adriana Fehrs photo)
As far as customers, Rose says “I get mostly local people at my plunge, and Leroy gets a lot of tourists at his, mostly because of the scenery at his pool.” people from all over the world have visited the Big Medicine Plunge. Leroy says, “People from Europe and Australia have traveled here to soak in the true mineral water.”
The plunges competes mainly with the other soaking spots in town – the Symes Hot Springs Hotel and Mineral Baths, and Alameda’s Hot Springs Retreat. Rose says, “People like to come here because it is quiet, and we empty and refill our pools everyday.”
Rose says they refill their pools at 6 a.m. everyday. Both plunges open at 8:30 a.m. and operate until 5 p.m.
Rose’s Plunge is located at 240 Chrisholm Road, and the Big Medicine Plunge is located down the road on North Street. For more information call (406) 741-5001, or call (406) 741-5140.