The 1913 dream of Dr. C.H. Diehl at the Current River in Missouri

CJ Coombs
Welch Building ruins on the Current River.NPS Park Cultural Landscapes Program (public domain).

Current River Welch

In 1859, a son born to Thomas Welch was named after the Current River--his name was Current River Welch interestingly enough. He was the owner of Welch Cave and its nearby spring. He and his wife had two sons who inherited the cave and spring. Their father died in 1912.

The brothers, James Walter Welch and Arnold Welch were out one day at the river and they heard someone yelling over to them. Their visitor was Dr. C.H. Diehl who was inquiring about the cost of the land. With the deed to the land signed in 1913, the brothers joined the Army because of World War I.

Dr. C.H. Diehl

Dr. C.H. Diehl purchased Welch Springs on the Current River for $800. He believed there were healing properties with the spring water and that the air coming from the nearby cave was pollen-free, and the effects of both might help people with ailments like asthma and emphysema.

Dr. Diehl decided to build a hospital above the mouth of the cave on the bluff. Welch Spring was dammed so the water would reach the entrance but wouldn't flow from the cave anymore. This was done so that air would be forced from the cave to the opening into the hospital.

Dr. Diehl was also hoping that opening a campground resort would attract more visitors plus supplement his income. A few cabins were added and visitors began coming but traveling to that location wasn't convenient because of the remoteness of the area. As such, the hospital and resort, probably to the doctor's disappointment, didn't have a lot of success. At that time, roads in the Ozarks weren't paved.

In 1940, Dr. Diehl passed away. The property wasn't kept up by his family, so eventually, it began to fall into ruins.

The Welch Spring Hospital Ruins

During the 1960s, the property became a part of Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Since the springs are considered a protected ecosystem, you cannot swim in it.

There is a trail between the parking area and the viewing area that's across the spring from the building. The cave is closed and gated. You can access the hospital from the river by canoe or by taking a trail over the bluff.

The Current River is a popular location for canoe trips and camping, and the stone ruins of the Welch Spring Hospital are a popular place to visit and photograph. Over 100 years ago, people were traveling to the area for healing in some cases.

Welch Spring is located 2 miles north of Akers on Highway K in Newton Township. Visitors can take a half-mile hike to view the ruins or canoe in. (Source.)

The below short video is a glimpse of the property ruins and spring.

Thank you for reading.

Comments / 15

Published by

Multi-genre writer and indie author; 30 years of legal secretarial experience; BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. Thinker, giver, and lover of life. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, truth, non-fiction, reading, history, and travel.

Kansas City, MO

More from CJ Coombs

Comments / 0