GYHS History

As we learn more, we add to our records.
Started in 1865 as a warm mineral water resort with hunting, fishing, hiking, and horseback activities for guests, Gilroy Hot Springs was a very popular destination spot for movers-and-shakers with time and money. Imagine a 3-hour train ride from San Francisco to Gilroy, an overnight stay in town, then a 3-hour horse and buggy ride up 12 miles of dirt trails to reach the place. This isn't a quick day trip; most guests stayed one or two weeks, at least.

Many of the founding fathers of the Gilroy township had a financial interest in the Hot Springs. Newspaper articles, printed documents, and family photos show local business men and neighboring ranchers enjoyed time at the resort and business collaborations. The business and political associations nurtured by the astute and charismatic Gilroy Hot Springs owners George W. Roop and later William J. McDonald nurtured, contributed to the success and popularity of the resort. In the 1800s it was believed to have the most healing waters in California. These associations resulted in the railroad and Gilroy train station, redwood for the hotel, clubhouse, and cabins, and the Fleishhacker warm water pool. There were many political rallies, high brow dinner parties and music concerts, flag raisings, and holiday festivities. Gilroy Hot Springs was the destination spot for many decades. Roop and McDonald loved Gilroy Hot Springs, formed trusted relationships with influential leaders, and left a following of loyal family and friends. The same was true of Harry Kyusaburo Sakata who later held ownership, adding the word "Yamato" -- meaning "Japanese" and making it the only Japanese-owned mineral spring resort in California. Under Sakata, GYHS reminded many of similar places in Japan and thereby became a place of physical as well as moral, emotional, and spiritual healing.

We are fortunate to have 4th and 5th generation Roop, McDonald, Tenant, and Sakata family members contributing information, pictures, and support toward our restoration projects. We invite others to join us in documenting the full history of the people and times at Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs.

Several internet websites give summary about our history. And as we learn more, we add to the accounting of contributions and people who had a role in the diversity of the spot that has been "a place for healing" in many ways -- physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.

Here are a few of the websites about GYHS:

Follow us at "Restore Gilroy Hot Springs" on FaceBook.

THE VALLEY OF HEART'S DELIGHT, "Gilroy Hot Springs History" at

WikiPedia Summary

"Sixty Years of California Song"" is the 1913 autobiography of singer and music teacher Margaret Blake-Alverson. She tells about her visits and contributions to Gilroy Hot Springs in descriptive detail.

Gilroy Historical Society, 2008 article about the beginning of our restoration work as "Friends of Gilroy Hot Springs". We no longer use that name. Click here for our current membership form.

Gilroy Patch online, 2010 article.

Post WWII evacuees from American Concentration Camps found resettlement opportunity at Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs in 1945. Read one story at REgenerations Oral History Project.

Soon to be release in book by Ian Sanders and Michael Brookman, 100 Years of Gilroy Hot Springs History Through Postcards and Photos, 2014. We hope to have order forms available soon.

A note about why there are no historic photos on this page: privacy and copyrights.
Some of the individuals who have contributed photos that accompany their stories, have also shared these images with the Gilroy Historical Society and other similar historic preservation projects. Most of the images are for research and educational purposes. As such, permissions must be requested for use of the images. This is in line with the specific requests of the contributor. While we would love to share the wonderful snapshots in time, we also know that images posted on websites quickly lose the context and importance they are due.
Meanwhile, if *you* have stories and pictures about your experience at Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs, let's talk! In addition to sharing the memories, you can provide valuable information for the more accurate restoration of the buildings, and a more complete understanding of the role this historic landmark has had through the last 150 years. Help us celebrate!