According to a short history of the resort, Richardson Springs, located on Mud Creek just north of Chico, was originally discovered by Native Americans in the area. The Richardson family moved into the canyon in 1870 and "established a partnership that obtained 5000 acres, which was used primarily for cattle ranching." Their family home was within the canyon and they allowed people to come visit, camp, and swim in the springs. Mineral water was thought at the time to have curative properties, and the popularity of the springs with the people in the area led the Richardsons to open first a boarding house, and then rental rooms and cottages for those who came to visit the springs.
There were several active springs on the land, including an ice-cold spring emitting a sulfur-smelling water that many drank or swam in to cure various ailments. Eventually a full-scale resort was built, with over 100 rooms, camping areas, and a restaurant. Tragedy struck in 1921 when a fire destroyed a vast amount of the hotel and dormitories, but construction of the new building took only three years, and business boomed in the '20s and '30s. The resort became a popular destination, hosting the likes of movie stars such as Errol Flynn, who stayed during the filming of The Adventures of Robin Hood in Chico.
The hotel was bought in 1968 and became Youth with a Mission - Springs of the Living Water, a partnership between two Christian ministries who use the still-active springs for conferences and religious gatherings. In April of 2016 Mike Boggs, a descendant of the Richardson family, worked with the ministries to create a day-long event at the springs where people could come tour, picnic, and soak up some history.
Get a glimpse at the history of Chico through these and hundreds of other beautiful, historic photos in the Enterprise-Record's new book, Chico Memories: The Early Years.