Filed Under Story

Buckhorn Baths Motel

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.


Buckhorn Baths Motel- Side View The motel was opened in 1939 by Ted and Alice Sliger and never changed hands until 1999. Creator: Mark Simonitis Date: July, 2017
Buckhorn Baths Motel- Front Entrance.. Besides being Arizona's first hot springs resort, the Motel also boasted a Wildlife Museum full of hunting trophies acquired by Ted Sliger. Creator: Mark Simonitis Date: July, 2017
Buckhorn Baths Motel- Side View The Motel became famous for its hot springs and hosted baseball players, movie stars, and other celebrities. A popular rumor maintains that John F. Kennedy secretly checked into the Motel to seek treatment for back pains.
Buckhorn Baths Motel- Sign After the death of Alice Sliger in 1999, the Motel closed its doors to the public. The City of Mesa attempted to purchase the building in 2012, but the deal fell through. Creator: Mark Simonitis Date: July, 2017


Mark Simonitis, “Buckhorn Baths Motel,” Salt River Stories, accessed September 26, 2023,