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Historical Hot Tub Information

Hot tubs (or spas) have been used for longer than most people think. Romans had large public bathing facilities for hundreds of years, most of which were heated. Citizens from all walks of life enjoyed a good soak, and in those days, it was really more of a social and business gathering place. The understanding of the therapeutic and hygienic properties of swirling hot water was centuries from being discovered. Ruins of several of the Roman spa facilities are still accessible today. Modern Europeans have continued that tradition of large spas.

Another culture with a long history of hot tub use is found in Japan. Called 'ofuro,' these smaller, stand-alone spas have been used for centuries by Japanese families. There is evidence that the Japanese of long ago understood (at least in a rudimentary sense) the importance of hygiene and some of the therapeutic value of taking a hot soak on a regular basis. Today, modern Japanese continue to honor this old tradition. You will find many households with elaborate hot tubs.

In America, the history of spas is a tale of two times. Early in our history (1770s), stories have been recounted of legendary heroes - George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, to name the two most prominent - using hot springs to soak their bodies to ease pains and relax during those stressful days. Native Americans are believed to have discovered and used the springs for similar purposes, especially in upstate New York and surrounding regions.

Later, in the early 1900s, a resort spa movement grew in America, modeled after the European style that had been gaining popularity for years. These resorts were built around naturally occurring hot springs, and even around man-made equivalents in rare instances. They attracted mostly wealthy citizens who were lured there by tales of the miraculous therapeutic results for treating arthritis and other debilitating diseases.

The modern hot tub began to spring up in America in the mid-1900s (1960s mostly). Following the Japanese ofuro design, small, personal wood spas were increasingly seen in use, mostly in California. Made from Redwood or Mountain Cedar and circular (like a barrel cut in half), these hot tubs were very basic in design and often leaked. Nevertheless, the movement spread all across the nation. Today, you can find home hot tubs and spas made from wood or fiberglass-reinforced plastic all over the country.

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