Naturally-warmed water reaches the Earth's surface in and around the town of Hot Springs, at the southern end of the Black Hills. The water, heated to approximately 87-degrees Fahrenheit, has been drawn people to the area for hundreds of years.
In the 1880s, the warm springs became a source of tourism revenue for the new and growing town of Minnekahta. (The name Minnekahta is derived for the Lakota words for "warm water"). Town leaders changed the community's name in 1886, supposedly to compete with the better-known resort town of Hot Springs, Arkansas.
By the mid-1890s, tourists seeking the health benefits of bathing in hot spring water were coming to the town in droves.
Several large bath houses were constructed, including the Palace Plunge, the forerunner of today's Evans Plunge water park and resort.
This video clip produced in the 1990s describes the rise of health resort tourism in Hot Springs and provides a look at how Evans Plunge came to be. The clip also illustrates and explains the natural processes that created the geothermal hot springs so common in that part of South Dakota.
Learn more about the history of Hot Springs in this SDPB Arts & Culture blog post.