It all started when a couple was looking for something to drink. When he and his wife Alice established what is now known today as the Buckhorn Baths Motel in 1936, Ted Sliger was planning on using the building as a store, a gas station, and a home base for his considerable skills as a taxidermist. For the next three years, Ted and Alice had to haul their own water up to the property, no small task considering how far they were from Mesa’s current borders. In 1939, the Sligers resolved to dig a well and draw their own water. While they did find water, it turned out to be running at 112 degrees. The Sligers had stumbled across a hot spring.
Over the next seven years, the Sligers operations began to focus more and more on the hot springs they had running underneath the motel, building a bathhouse that could serve 75 patrons a day. In 1947, the Buckhorn Baths was discovered by New York Giants owner Horace Stoneham, who Made the motel their official base of operations. This officially propelled the establishment into the spotlight as it hosted baseball players, movie stars, and other celebrities. Rumor has it that it even served a young John F. Kennedy, seeking treatment for back injuries he suffered during World War II. Some also credit the Motel with playing a key role in the formation of the Arizona Cactus League.
The Buckhorn Baths remained open until Alice Sliger closed it down in 1999, Ted having passed away in 1987. Today, the Motel sits empty, with plenty of baseball memorabilia and Alice’s meticulous guest records potentially sealed away inside.