The elegant Hotel Broadwater and Natatorium complex was built in 1888-89 by Montana railroad, real estate and banking tycoon Charles A. Broadwater. It was located just a few miles west of the roaring gold-mining town of Helena, Montana, which at that time boasted more millionaires per capita than any other city in the world

Situated on forty landscaped acres along Ten Mile Creek, the 50-room hotel and huge natatorium opened during the week of August 26, 1889. Construction of the project took one year, and cost $500,000.

The hotel was world-class, opulently furnished and fitted. The spectacular Moorish-style natatorium was the world's largest indoor pool, fed by over one million gallons of hot mountain spring water per day. The grounds were handsomely landscaped, with winding driveways, fountains and a private lake. Electric trolleys took patrons to and from downtown Helena. The air was clean, and the surrounding countryside was beautiful.

Yet, for all of that, the resort was destined to fail.

"Taking the waters" at hot-spring spas was a Victorian passion, and was considered a healthful cure for everything from scaly skin to arthritis. Charles Broadwater sought to capitalize on this fashion by building an elaborate resort in the Rocky Mountain foothills. But, despite his remarkable business acumen, he greatly overestimated the ability of advertising to draw upscale clientele, via the railroads, to a remote corner of the American West -- no matter how luxurious the accommodations there might be.

His untimely death in 1892 began a half-century of decline for the project. It was alternately shuttered, sold and reopened several times, never operating profitably for its owners. It was finally destroyed by neglect..

The hotel was permanently closed in 1941. The natatorium, damaged by earthquakes in 1935, was leveled in 1946. In 1974, the salvageable contents and architectural details of the decayed hotel were auctioned off, and it was subsequently demolished.

These pages present a brief overview of the man, the place and the era -- now gone forever.