President Roosevelt the "New Deal."

The first clinical trials of Penicillin G Procaine were conducted by Howard Florey and 

Ernst Chain in 1941. Florey and his team researched the large-scale production of the mould and the efficient extraction of the active ingredient in Penicillin, by 1945, the industrial process was perfected. Ultimately the commercial use of Penicillin ended the era of Sanitariums in Soap Lake because the healing waters were no longer needed by the masses due to the advent of antibiotics. 

In 1934, the presiding president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt began endorsing the high dam design for the Grand Coulee Dam. The high dam design would not only produce massive amounts of electricity, it would also allow enough water flow and electricity to pump water throughout the Columbia Basin which distributed life giving fresh water into the desert which ultimately created one of the most productive farming areas in the United States. This also breathed life into Soap Lake once again, people came to the city for outdoor dancing, festivities and the small cottage town was once again shoulder to shoulder with tourists from all around the world.

Howard Florey treating a veteran in New York

The cowboys and sheep herders would drive their herd and their horses into the lake to rid them of

sores and parasites. In 1905, the Lomabardy Hotel and Sanitarium opened on the shore of the lake.

The Lombardy Hotel housed the first post office and school. In 1906, the Siloam, the most famous

of all Soap Lake resort hotels opened. The Siloam advertised internationally and Soap Lake became

known worldwide as a health resort and socialite destination. Soon cottages, rooming houses, 

apartments, stores and businesses cropped up to serve the massive influx of tourists. People would 

to the cottage city in droves to experience the healing properties of Soap Lake. Some would lodge

in one of the 300 hotel rooms that were available with hot Soap Lake mineral baths, doctors, nurses,

and massage. There were dozens of holiday cabins owned and operated by entrepreneurial families

 all over town.  When the inns and cottages were full they started pitching tents for visiting tourists.















 would gather around the lake for healing, to bask in steam huts, play stick games, and race horses that involved high stake betting. The natives would stake two poles in the ground. Two riders would start at one pole, race to the other, ride around that stake and race back to the pole where the race started. Native storytellers say that tribes from the coast of Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon would travel to Soap Lake to join in the festivities, healing, and trade goods. 

When the white man came, they joined the natives 

in the summer festivities and horse racing. They too

​learned of the medicinal qualities of Soap Lake.

Lakes of the Lower Grand Coulee

Soap Lake is a two mile long lake, nestled at the southern end of the Lower Grand Coulee. Ancient history has been discovered from modern scientific studies. Soap Lake is a meromotic body of water characterized by a highly alkaline mineral content. Meromictic by definition has two distinct layers of stratification. The bottom layer is hypersaline, cold and highly sulfuric, with the highest level of sulfide ever recorded in natural water: the composition of the top layer is brinish and anaerobic, much like sea water. What's particularly unusual about the lake is that it has sulfide-oxidizing bacteria in both stratums of the lake.

Long before the white man set foot on the North American continent, the Tsincayuse or Sinkiuse Natives would frequent the beaches of "Smokiam" (Healing Waters) or Let-to-to-Weints (Healing Water Springs). The native people

Ancient Wisdom Healing Modern Stresses

Dirt Roads: A Documentary about Soap Lake, Washington

Written and Directed by: Kathy Kiefer

Soap Lake is located in Eastern Washington on the lower Grand Coulee. The high mineral content of the lake gives it a soapy feeling. In the early nineteen hundreds there were several sanitariums located in Soap Lake and the town would grow to ten thousand inhabitants in the summertime before the advent of antibiotics.


Soap Lake was originally called "Sanitarium Lake" on the maps. The town became incorporated in 1919, and was finally officially named Soap Lake after much debate among the towns people and city leaders. For years the towns population in the summertime would grow ten fold. The future of the desert city was bright until a drought and the Great Depression hit in the thirties and the money and water ran dry, and with it tourism as well. In the mid 1930's the Veterans Administration sent nin veterans to Soap Lake to test the healing attributes of the lake in cases of Buergers disease, which affects the extremities of the body due to poor circulation. One of these veterans was Earl McKay. Ultimately the federal government built McKay hospital  in his name in 1938. The hospital was used for many years to research Buergers disease  and the curative properties of the healing waters and its black creamy mud. 

A gentleman educator, Native American historian and resident by the name of Mr. Cull White,

with the help of Mr. Sam Woody and the city council started the "Suds and Sun" celebration

in 1954. Mr. White wanted to bring back the native traditions of celebration on the shores of

                                              "Smokiam." He approached many influential elders in the 

                                              native community and they agreed to participate in the 

                                              "Suds and Sun" festivities. At first there were very few 

                                              teepees erected during the festival and hundreds of natives

                                              from all over the state came to participate in stick games, 

                                              teepee races, dancing and festivities. Finally, the native 

                                              peoples had returned to the land and lake that they so revered

                                              and loved. 

                                             The Camus bowl was built for dances and drumming, it would

                                             fill up with folks excited to watch the pow wow events while

                                             young local and native boys would climb the surrounding

                                             trees to watch the activities.



Fun in the Suds and Sun in Soap Lake

Grand Coulee Dam produces 6,809 megawatts of electricity

We're looking for recent history from 1950 through 2000

Information Needed:

Photographic history of the mounds of Suds on lakeshore

Pow Wow and Suds and Sun Festival

The history and founders of water skiing tournaments and shows.

Hydroplane Racing History

The Great Canoe Race

The Greek Festival

 Pig Run and Feed

We're looking for accurate historical verifiable information, to complete this page on the history of Soap Lake, Washington. Input from elders of the community, their children, history buffs and visitors that have come to our cottage town would be deeply appreciated. 

Please contact:  Bridgett Oie  at Healing Water Spa 

           Richard Milne (360)-301-1557/

Whoever provides a significant amount of information, research, or written material will rec. credit on our History of Soap Lake page. ~ Thank You  Richard 

Teepee racing is fun for the whole family

Veterans on the steps of McKay Hospital 

Latimer Family Archive

Healing Water Spa and Gallery