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Battle Mountain Sanitarium
Battle Mountain Sanitarium (now part of the Veterans Affairs Black Hills Health Care System) was part of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, which provided care for Union veterans after the Civil War. It was the first and only National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers built solely as a short-term sanitarium for veterans with lung or respiratory problems, not as a long-term home. Unlike the other National Home branches, veterans went to Battle Mountain Sanitarium for brief intensive treatment. Upon completion of their treatment, they were transferred to another National Home branch. Battle Mountain Sanitarium opened in 1907, offering veterans a complete array of services including plunge baths and an amusement hall. Located in the town of Hot Springs, South Dakota, the Sanitarium, made from local pink sandstone, rises above the town on a bluff to the northeast of the resort section of the town at an elevation of 3400 feet. A majority of the buildings predate 1930, and many of them are still used for their original purposes. The curving road system that winds through the facility is also original. The National Cemetery is located in the eastern section of the campus.
Founded in the 1880s as a warm water mineral springs health resort, the town of Hot Springs became a popular destination for regional health seekers by 1900. Tourists enjoyed the benefits of the waters and the mountain scenery. The local effort to build a National Home branch began in the 1890s. The possibility became likely after an inspector for the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers inspected a State Soldier’s Home in the area and stated that he was impressed with the therapeutic qualities of the water. After this, 30 veterans from the Western Branch went to the State facility, and the treatments improved their health. In 1898, the Grand Army of the Republic formed a committee to convince Congress to locate a National Home branch in Hot Springs. In 1902, Congress passed legislation authorizing the new facility; the bill allocated $150,000 for the construction of buildings and $20,000 for equipment. Battle Mountain Sanitarium opened in 1907 for its first patient, Charles Wilbert, from the Marion Branch. Click here for more...