The Buckhorn Baths Motel was famous for its mineral-rich waters and welcomed a vast array of guests from baseball players and movie stars, to high level businessmen and politicians. Mesa Preservation Foundation hoped to preserve the history and personality of this unique piece of land. This project's preservation efforts have stopped due to matters outside of MPF's realm. However, its history is worth remembering.
History of the Buckhorn Baths
Buckhorn Baths were the vision of Ted and Alice Sliger who developed their land on East Main Street, then U.S. Highways 60-70 and 80-89, between about 1935 and 1947. The Buckhorn is about 4.2 miles East of the Diving Lady Sign on same "Main Street."
After establishing their residence on the Buckhorn property on the northwest corner of Main Street and Recker Road, the Sliger's built a store and gas station to accommodate the growing auto tourism. They sold Indian curios in the store and Alice cooked homemade meals for weary travelers.
In 1938, Ted began displaying his taxidermy collection of Arizona wildlife at The Buckhorn the addition. Before this landmark was the Hotel/Mineral Baths it became famous for, The Buckhorn was a place to stop in the desolate desert to fill up on gas, buy trinkets and view an array of still wildlife.
Finding the Springs
In 1939, Ted got tired of traveling to bring water to their place so he decided to drill the land for water. He struck an unknown hot spring reservoir that produced 127 degree water (average jacuzzi heats to 104 degrees)!
Baths to Baseball
In 1947, the New York Giants (now the San Francisco Giants) baseball team came to town. The presence of the Buckhorn Baths led them to make the Valley their spring training home and the Cactus League was born. For the next 25 years, the Buckhorn Baths were the Giants' home away from home and baseball greats like Ty Cobb, Willie Mays, Gaylord Perry, Leo Durocher, Mel Ott and Juan Marichal became part of the Sliger family.
The architectural and historical significance of the Buckhorn Baths makes the site highly noteworthy and it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. With the passing of Alice Sliger on November 9, 2010 at the age of 103, the future of the Buckhorn Baths is imperiled. The Mesa Preservation Foundation worked with all interested parties to ensure the Sliger legacy is maintained through preservation of the most significant structures and adaptive reuse of the remainder of the site, possibly including baseball fields.