b. St. Charles, Missouri, Sept. 25 1840
d. Helena, Montana, May 25 1892

Missouri native Charles Broadwater built his huge Montana fortune over the course of thirty years, beginning in 1862 as a livestock trader in the gold rush town of Bannack, Montana.

He soon diversified his interests into transportation, and became superintendent of the large Diamond R Freighting Company, which dominated shipping in the Territory of Montana before the coming of the railroads.

In the 1870s, Broadwater allied himself with railroad magnate James J. Hill, founder of the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railway, which, in 1890, became the Great Northern Railway. The Manitoba/Great Northern competed in Montana with the federally-favored Northern Pacific, and Broadwater was in the thick of it. He was President of the Montana Central Railroad, a spur line which ran between Great Falls, Helena and Butte.

He was also prominent in Montana politics, and was one of the Democrat "Big Four", along with Samuel T. Hauser, Marcus Daly and William A. Clark. His Montana National Bank , which opened in Helena in 1882, was influential in state affairs. Broadwater lobbied successfully in Washington, D.C. for the creation of Fort Harrison, which started construction in 1894, one mile from his hotel and natatorium.

Among Broadwater's many real estate acquisitions were 80 acres along Ten Mile Creek, west of Helena. Included in these 1874-1886 purchases was the small Hot Springs Hotel complex, which included rights to the hot mineral springs. This acreage sat astride the only practicable railroad grade from the Helena Valley to Rimini, and later proved key in James J. Hill's plans to gain exclusive Manitoba access to the lucrative Rimini-Red Mountain mining district, some twenty miles southwest of Helena (map).

Those plans began to fall apart in 1886, when the Manitoba's financial problems necessitated compromise with the Northern Pacific. As a result, the Rimini line was ceded to the N. P.

Northern Pacific Overland Express
arriving in Helena - summer, 1897


Broadwater's fallback plan was to develop a parcel of his land at the mouth of Ten Mile Canyon. The plan was to build a de luxe hotel and hot springs resort, advertise it widely, and bring in well-heeled clientele via rail from across the nation. Construction began in August of 1888; the complex opened August 26, 1889.

Broadwater's health began to fail shortly after the resort opened. Weakened, he was taken ill with influenza in the spring of 1892, and died in his suite at the hotel on May 25. More than 5,000 people attended his funeral, and he was laid to rest in Forestvale Cemetery.

After Broadwater's death, his nephew, banker Thomas A. Marlow, made an effort to operate the complex profitably, but closed it in 1894. It remained shuttered until 1906, when it was sold to a new owner, who likewise failed. Thus began the resort's slow decline to eventual ruin, as none of the subsequent owners were able to make a success of it, despite investing a great deal of money and sweat in the venture.

In reality, the project was doomed from the start. The area's small local customer base, the long winters, the remoteness of Montana and changing fashions all worked against the success of the resort. Broadwater's belief that the railroad would be a kind of magic carpet, delivering trainloads of wealthy health-seekers to his hotel, proved to be a fantasy.

Yet, for a few years, his fantasy blossomed gloriously on the banks of Ten Mile Creek. Nothing like it will be seen again

"The True Carlsbad of America" advertisement


The grave of Charles Broadwater, Forestvale Cemetery, Helena Montana.


The grave of Julia Chumasero Broadwater (1853-1929), Forestvale Cemetery, Helena Montana. Julia was the daughter of Judge William Chumasero (b. England 1818 - d.Helena 1893). Charles and Julia had two children, Charles C. and Wilder.