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statehome1889: The state of South Dakota establishes the State Soldiers Home in Hot Springs.






1892-1893: A strong move was projected by several prominent members of the Hot Springs community for the establishment of a national sanitarium in their city. Leading the charge was Col. A.J. Keller, a former member of the Confederate Army and a leading attorney in the Black Hills. Keller introduced a resolution on the subject in the South Dakota Legislature in 1892.

1893: Thirty disabled soldiers were sent from the Western Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Leavenworth, Kan., to Hot Springs for special treatment, which lasted only 60 days. During their time in Hot Springs 44 percent of those treated for rheumatism were cured.

1894: Gen. William W. Averell, Inspector General for the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, wrote a letter to South Dakota Sen. R.F. Pettigrew explaining that during the years 1891, 1892 and 1893 he had inspected the South Dakota State Soldiers Home and was "wonderfully impressed with the curative qualities of the water."

1895: South Dakota Sen. R.F. Pettigrew introduced bill No. 2791 in the 54th Congress for the building and maintenance of the Northern Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers at Hot Springs.

1898: The National Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic held in Cincinnati, Ohio, passed a resolution requesting Congress to establish a national sanitarium in Hot Springs.

220px-President_Theodore_Roosevelt,_19041902: A bill to create a national sanitarium in Hot Springs becomes an Act of Congress with the signature of President Theodore Roosevelt. Legislation allocates $150,000 for the construction of buildings and $20,000 for equipment.






blg11902: Architect Thomas Rogers Kimball begins work on the Battle Mountain Sanitarium. He designs the structure using a Spanish Mission style. To complete Kimball's vision, 1,148 rail carloads of material were sent to Hot Springs, not including woodwork material. The building cost $1 million and included the administration building, service building, bath house, chapel, library, laundry and six ward buildings joined by a circular foundation court 180 feet in diameter.

1902: Before construction even started, workers removed 40,000 yards of dirt lowering the original site.

1902-1904: Approximately $575,000 was appropriated by Congress for the construction of Battle Mountain Sanitarium. A report, dated Dec. 1, 1905, states that "construction of the sanitarium has not progressed as was anticipated. The weather during the winter of 1904-1905 was unprecedented in severity, and work was at a standstill for several months. In the spring, disastrous floods again interrupted operations. It appears now improbable that the sanitarium can be open for the reception of patients before July 1906."

1903: Ground was broken on the facility.

1904: James Denman is appointed Quartermaster and Commissary of Subsistence of Battle Mountain Sanitarium. Denman earned a salary of $1,500 per year.

aerial1907: Main group of buildings completed on April 1, 1907 with outbuildings being completed the same year. Battle Mountain Sanitarium admits its first patients in 1907. The first internment in the Battle Mountain Sanitarium National Cemetery occurred on May 4, 1907, when the remains of Elijah F. Williams, Co. A, 1st New Jersey Volunteer Infantry were laid to rest.

1908: The first veteran to be admitted to the Battle Mountain Sanitarium, Charles Wibert, a former cook who enlisted with Co. E, 1st-Michigan Sharp Shooters, was discharged on April 15, 1908.

1908: Board of Managers reports that fewer than expected members were traveling to the site for treatment, in part because the long trip was hard on the ill and the elderly.


insidesanitarium1908-1909: During the 1908-1909 fiscal year, 865 veterans received treatment at Battle Mountain Sanitarium. The facility specialized in the care of musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, and respiratory conditions, as well as skin diseases.




1912: Construction on nursesí cottage and chaplain's quarters completed.

1913: Construction on conservatory/greenhouse completed.

1914: Construction on auditorium and canteen wing completed.

staircase1915: An ornamental circular stairway of pink sandstone and concrete leading from the head of the National Avenue in Hot Springs to the crest of the sanitarium grounds was completed at a cost of $5,500.




1915: Construction on auditorium and library completed.

1919: The Battle Mountain Sanitarium was made available to the Public Health Service for treatment of veterans for five years. Following World War I, additional staff housing was constructed at Battle Mountain.

1924: Refrigeration plant completed.

1925: Construction begins on the main hospital building.

1926: Construction completed on Veterans' Bureau hospital for tuberculosis patients.

1929-1930: During the 1929-1930 fiscal year, the sanitarium provided care to an average of 820 men.

220px-HerbertHoover1930: President Herbert Hoover signs an executive order consolidating and coordinating all governmental activities affecting war veterans. The order combined the United States Veteran Bureau and the National Homes for Disables Volunteer Soldiers, forming the Veterans Administration.





1930: Battle Mountain Sanitarium was 101.36 acres in size, with 16 acres devoted to farming. The grounds held 23 buildings, two stone hospital buildings and 21 others, including one of brick, two concrete and 16 wood frame.

hospital-ballfield1937: Hospital building's east wing added.








1952: The sanitarium featured 487 employees

1953: Milk processing plant discontinued.

1954: Refrigeration plant discontinued.

1957: Battle Mountain Sanitarium celebrated 50th anniversary.

1973: The cemetery was one of 21 cemeteries transferred to what was then known as the National Cemetery System.

registercemetery1984: Hot Springs National Cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.






1991: Hospital east wing addition completed.

1996: VA Black Hills Health Care System was established with the consolidation of the VA Medical Centers at Fort Meade and Hot Springs.

1996: Freedom Shrine donated to the VA Medical Center by the Rapid City Exchange Club.

1997: By 1997, VA BHHCS was performing more than 152,227 outpatient visits, and treated over 6,611 hospital inpatients, 142 nursing home patients, and 552 domiciliary patients for a total of more than 15,000 individual veteran patients receiving health care per year.

bms2011: The Battle Mountain Sanitarium declared a National Historic Landmark.







December 2011: Citing aging buildings and increased costs, the Veterans Administration announces a proposal to close the Hot Springs facility and build a new facility in Rapid City, and asks for community feedback.

April 2012: Battle Mountain Sanitarium declared a "National Treasure" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

June 2012: Save the VA presents their proposal to reinvent healthcare for veterans across the United States to turn the Hot Springs VA into a National Demonstration Project.

September 2012: Negotiation meetings between Save the VA and VA Black Hills administrators break down when VA shuts down communication, refusing to negotiate on their proposal. In response, Senators and Representatives from South Dakota, Nebraska and Wyoming fire a "strongly-worded" letter off to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki requesting a meeting with him in Hot Springs.


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