About seven and a half miles southwest of Soledad are the Paraiso Hot Springs, the history of which dates back to 1791. In that year King Carlos of Spain granted to the Mission la Soledad twenty acres of land including these springs. The priests of the mission established a health resort, to which they gave the name of Eternidad Paraiso, which means Eternal Paradise. Thus, for more than two centuries the healing waters of these springs have been used in the treatment of rheumatism, kidney and stomach troubles and other maladies.
O. B. Petersen, the present owner and manager of the springs, was born in Norway in 1864. He received a high school education in his native land and learned decorative painting before coming to the United States in 1883. His first year in this country was spent in New York city. He was then for eight years a machinist in the employ of the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia. In 1893 he went to Chicago, where he established the Garfield Steam and Sulphur Baths, on Madison street. At first this was a “one man” concern, but as its merits became better known it developed into a large business. In 1919 he sold out this business and went to Nampa, Idaho, where he bought eighty acres of land and for the next two years he was actively employed in farming and dairying. While touring through California in 1921 he visited the Paraiso (Paradise) Hot Springs. Learning that the property could be purchased at what he regarded as a reasonable figure, he bought two hundred and thirty-seven acres of land, including the springs, and set to work to make improvements.
These springs are situated in a little valley on the eastern slope of the Santa Lucia mountains, at an elevation of one thousand four hundred feet, and under the present management have been widely advertised as a health resort. The baths are conducted according to the MacFadden and Battle Creek methods; electric current is supplied by the Coast Valley Electric Company, so that the buildings and grounds are well lighted; golf links and tennis courts have been constructed, plenty of game can be found in the vicinity and many persons visit the springs purely for rest and recreation. Sulphur, sodium, arsenic, potassium, magnesium and iron are the principal medicinal ingredients as shown by analyses, and many physicians recommend the Paraiso Hot Springs to their patients. While in Chicago Mr. Petersen graduated in the Electric College of Physiological Therapeutics, giving him the degree of Doctor of Electrotherapy. The knowledge thus gained has been of great advantage to him since he came into possession of these healing waters. He has greatly improved the buildings, including a number of cottages, and has accommodations for one hundred and fifty people at a time.
Mr. Petersen is a Scottish Rite Mason, a Noble of the Mystic Shrine, an Elk and an Odd Fellow. In Philadelphia he married Miss Anna G. Johannesen and to them have been born four children. Thomas first graduated in chiropody in Chicago and later in chiropractic in the college at Portland, Oregon. He is now associated with his father, giving massage and chiropractic treatment at the springs. Like his father, he is a member of the Masonic fraternity. William B. passed through business college and is now in charge of the commissary department at the springs. He belongs to the Order of De Molay, a junior Masonic degree. Ogden B. is a student at the University of California at Berkeley, and Emily is a student in the Soledad high school.
Source: History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California : cradle of California’s history and romance : dating from the planting of the cross of Christendom upon the shores of Monterey Bay by Fr. Junipero Serra, and those intrepid adventurers who accompanied him, down to the present day. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1925.