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Buckhorn Springs marks 20 years

A rare opportunity to explore, sample and relax at the private Buckhorn Springs Resort for the Sargent family's 20th anniversary of owning and operating the historic resort takes place Saturday.

The resort became private in 1996 and now caters to groups on retreats like the Ashland Buddhists, yoga groups, massage therapy schools and anyone in need of simply peaceful quiet.

"Buckhorn's time has come again," said Bruce Sargent, owner and restorer of the rustic resort.

A concealed fault with decaying organic materials creates the carbon dioxide gas springs that were first utilized by Native Americans across the region, said Bruce Sargent.

Remnants remain of the simple stone semi circles medicine men and chiefs used to lay a patient down to rest in the healing area where the concentration of carbon dioxide gases rising from the earth are highest.

Much of the healing knowledge has been lost with the establishment of modern medicine and decimation of the tribes that utilized the area, he said.

Restoration of the lodge and other buildings built in the 1930s has been a long process for the Sargent family, who have all chipped in to lend their elbow grease over the years.

The vapor bath house with in-ground compartments to sit and absorb the carbon dioxide into the skin while keeping one's head above the hazardous fumes has been restored to its 1930s form.

"It makes the outer layer of skin porous and cleanses," Sargent said.

A new gazebo — since the old one collapsed several years ago — houses the hand pump where visitors are encouraged to drink the waters, according to Leslie Sargent.

Because of the carbon dioxide content in the area, the water is naturally fizzy and Leslie Sargent recommends at least two sips.

During the open house event there will be people stationed at all the key stops to give a brief history, answer questions and generally show you what's been going on for the last 13 years.

New hand railings, near exact replicas of the originals, have just been completed around the lodge with the addition of a couple more staircases for easy wandering. Bruce Sargent used old pictures of the lodge, from before the second story burned in the 1940s, to create an accurate representation of how the facility was meant to look and feel.

Several cabins have been restored to create a rustic and cozy feel and a shiny new spiritual dodecagon (12 sided building) was built to better accommodate the clientele of the resort.

Area Buddhists have established a mutually beneficial relationship with the Sargent family.

During their seven-day annual retreat the Buddhists devote an hour-and-a-half of work per person per day to beautification projects, said Anne Stine, 66, on her sixth annual retreat to Buckhorn Springs.

"We chose it because it meets the needs we have," Stine said. "There's perfect conditions for quiet and meditation."

The open house is scheduled for Saturday, June 27 from 4 to 6 p.m. at 2200 Buckhorn Springs Road, 20 minutes outside Ashland. To get there, take Highway 66 for about nine miles, then turn right on Buckhorn Road and follow the signs to the lodge.