By B. Lancaster
Saratoga Springs Resort, on Utah Lake, has been around in one form or another since 1884. It was originally developed by John Beck, a Mormon miner and farmer and called Beck’s Hot Springs. He later named it after the New York hot springs of the same name, Saratoga Springs Resort. Originally the resort boasted six hot tubs and two large plunge baths. Over the years the resort expanded to include many rides, games, activities, and buildings. It would go on to host many large events including concerts. (American Fork Citizen)
In 1900, Beck sold the resort to the Utah Sugar Company. Shortly after this Edward Southwick was put in charge of running the resort. Southwick wasn’t just the manager of the resort; he also worked in many different positions, including as a lifeguard. He even personally saved the lives of three different people. Saratoga Springs Resort would be sold several times over until it was eventually bought by Frank Eastmond in 1930. Eastmond and his family were the final owners of the resort and kept it up and running until its eventual closing in 1995. (Utah Historical Quarterly)
The resort made front-page news in April 1968, when the Deseret News reported that several of the main buildings had caught fire. The early-morning fire caused more than $50,000 worth of damage and destroyed several of the resort’s main attractions. The cause of the fire was unknown at the time the article was printed. But it was known that the fire had started around 1 a.m. in the laundry room. It quickly spread throughout most of the rest of the building and eventually caused an explosion in the swimming area due to the chlorine tank in the building. Besides the large main building that housed the indoor swimming pool, dressing room, ticket office, business offices, snack bar, and nickel arcade, the main dance hall was also destroyed. At the time the dance hall had been one of the main attractions and had been a staple of the resort for many years. Luckily no one was harmed during the fire or subsequent explosion.
The Orem-Geneva Times had a Now Hiring ad in its newspaper on March 27, 1969. It stated that the resort was hiring about one hundred employees, which was more than double the number it had hired in the past, for all sorts of positions including lifeguards, ride operators, game operators, waiters and waitresses. The resort was open from Easter weekend until Memorial Day only on the weekends but would then open up daily until Labor Day weekend.
After the fire that destroyed some of the resort’s main attractions, a large remodeling project began. The resort wasn’t just rebuilding the structures that were lost, but also adding to the resort as well as updating everything. The project wasn’t completed until 1973 and cost around a half million dollars to finish, according to the Lehi Free Press in May 1979. Some of the new additions were three natural hot springs, campgrounds, picnic grounds, kiddie rides, mini golf, an arcade, as well as a dining terrace. These updates were very well received and caused the resort to become an even more popular local destination.
The biggest change to the resort was the ride “Kamikaze.” It was built in 1978 and cost around $150,000, according to the Lehi Free Press in August 1979. Kamikaze was a three-story 350-foot slide and was the most popular attraction that the resort ever had. It stood where the original dance pavilion had been before the fire. Kamikaze was built to replace several of the larger amusement rides that the park had had before that had become too expensive to keep due to running costs as well as insurance costs. Luckily it ended up being more popular than any of the previous attractions and brought in hundreds of thousands of visitors.
Even though Kamikaze was only opened in 1978 and the park had been doing fairly well, things started to take a downturn in 1980. The resort’s running costs had gotten higher with the amount of staff needed having nearly tripled since the 1950s. It all culminated in the decision to hold a rock concert at the resort. The British band Deep Purple was the headliner and it was a very popular event. Sadly the band was never able to perform due to there not being a backup generator after the initial generator was broken during the pre show. This caused the large crowd to erupt in anger and to start to tear the resort down with their bare hands. They caused extensive damage to the buildings, resulting in thousands of dollars in damages, according to the Deseret News in June 1995.
After many ups and downs the Saratoga Springs Resort was officially closed and dismantled, according to a June 1995 article in the Deseret News. This was due to its waning popularity over the years and the fact that it had become rather run down ever since Utah Lake had flooded most of the resort and caused major water damage. After the buildings and attractions had been torn down the land was sold to developers to create a large housing development that would eventually become the city of Saratoga Springs.
B. Lancaster graduated from the University of Utah in December of 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Communication.
“Free Swimming Passes to Climbers,” The Lehi Free Press, July 16, 1959.
“Saratoga to Sponsor Moonlite Boat-o-cade Next Monday,” The Lehi Free Press, July 16, 1959.
Leo Loveridge, “Fire, Blast Hit Saratoga,” Deseret News, April 27, 1968.
“Saratoga Resort Now Hiring,” Orem-Geneva Times, March 27, 1969.
“Saratoga Day Set For Citizen/ Free Press Readers,” Lehi Free Press, August 23, 1979.
“Transformation of Saratoga Underway,” Lehi Free Press, May 31, 1979.
Jean Gordon, “Saratoga History Spans Battleground, Resorts,” American Fork Citizen, April 2, 1981.
Richard S. Van Wagoner, “Saratoga, Utah Lake’s Oldest Resort,” Utah Historical Quarterly 57, no. 2 (1989).
Dennis Romboy, “Utah Lake Resort Sails Off Into The Sunset,” Deseret News, June 30, 1995.
Tom Wharton, “Whatever happened to … Saratoga resort on Utah Lake?” The Salt Lake Tribune, April 5, 2015.