Sitting along Missouri’s Current River, the gorgeously abandoned Welch Spring Hospital Ruins once offered healing waters but now simply provides scenic ruin.
Back in 1913, an Illinois doctor named C.H. Diehl bought Missouri’s Welch Spring for just $800. Dr. Diehl believed that the spring water had healing properties and that the cool, pollen free air coming from the adjacent cave would be beneficial for people with asthma, emphysema, and tuberculosis, which were collectively known at the time as “consumption.” He said that it had worked for him, helping him with a chronic case of hay fever. To tap this clean air resource, Dr. Diehl built a hospital over the mouth of the cave. Welch Spring, which flowed from the cave, was dammed up so that water would close off the entrance. This was to force more air out through the cave opening into the hospital. In today’s terms, Diehl’s “hospital” would be better called a “health spa” since there wasn’t much in the way of formal medical treatment, just an invitation to breathe the fresh air of the cave.
Unfortunately for Diehl, access to the area surrounding the Current River was limited to just a few rough dirt roads, and the flood of patients and other guests that were to flock to the site’s healing surroundings never materialized. After the good doctor died in 1940, his family took no interest in keeping the site alive and the sprawling healing complex was abandoned to nature.
The Current River is now a popular location for canoe trips and camping, and the stone ruins of the Welch Spring Hospital are a popular place for visitors to stop for adventure, if not healing.