Before Manitou Springs was founded, American Indians believed that the great spirit of "Manitou" lived within the mineral springs in the area.
Unique geology created a valley of mineral springs once visited and respected by tribes either living in or passing through the area now know as Manitou Springs. Early explorers' accounts of the springs aroused interest in those eager to capitalize on the magic and mystery of the area. Historically, the mineral springs played a major role in the location, development and culture of Manitou Springs.
The springs of Manitou were once described for their "virtues in the cure of rheumatism, all cutaneous diseases". Several European doctors researched and document the remarkable results of using mineral water therapies. A booming spa culture developed with the construction of the first "bath house" in 1872 and continued through 1966 when the Manitou Spa was approved as a rehabilitation agency for Medicare patients, who were able to use the mineral water baths, physical therapy, occupational therapy and psychotherapy.
The first bottling works was built in 1872 bottling sparkling "Manitou" table water from Navajo Spring. A case of fifty quart bottles sold for $7.50. A "Manitou" Ginger Champagne, a ginger ale made from a secret recipe of ginger root was offered and became a huge success. By 1893 four million bottles were shipped all over the United States.
Over the years, the springs began to loose favor and were mostly ignored. In 1983 the City of Manitou Springs was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The mineral springs were again recognized as a critical natural asset in need of protection. In 1987 the Mineral Springs Foundation was formed to preserve, protect, and promote our mineral springs.
Cunningham, Sharon (1998). Manitou: Saratoga of the West