But to argue this question would be a reductio ad absurdum. Nature is far better than the laboratory. Artificial waters may simulate the natural in taste and appearance, but fall far short of their therapeutic effects.
The Commercial Value
Of the various springs differs as widely as does people’s estimate of their individual merits. Spring water property is very expensive. It costs large sums of money to manage some of the springs. The old method of tubing, by sinking a curb, may cost several thousand dollars, and is uncertain then. Moreover, it is no small work to keep the springs in perfect repair, and in a clean and pure condition.
The artesian wells cost not far from $6 per foot for the boring, and are much less expensive.
Most of the springs are owned by stock companies, with a capital ranging from several hundred thousand to a million dollars. On dit that the proprietors of the Geyser Spring were offered $175,000 for their fountain, and probably the Congress could not be purchased for quadruple that amount. It would not be a very profitable bargain if some of the springs could be bought for a song, even, and yet there is not enough mineral water in all the springs now discovered in the Saratoga valley to supply New York alone, if artificial waters were to be abandoned. The only profit of the springs is in the sale of the water in bottles and barrels; and as the method of bottling requires great care, and is expensive, the per cent. of profit is not enormous. The use of mineral water, both as a beverage and for medicinal purposes, is increasing, and there may be “a good time coming,” when these springs will bring wealth to the owner as they give health to the drinker.
The Medicinal Value of the Waters.
There is no doubt of their power to promote evacuations of effete accumulations from the kidneys, skin and bowels.
Dr. Draper, an eminent physician, in speaking of the springs, says: “They restore suppressed, and correct vitiated secretions, and so renovate health, and are also the means of introducing many medicines into the system in a state of minute subdivision, in which they exert a powerful alterative and curative action.”
The value of mineral water has been shown in the treatment of obscure and chronic diseases. In many instances persons have been restored to health, or greatly relieved, by the use of mineral waters when all other remedies had proved of no avail.
The best known waters are now prescribed by the faculty in certain diseases with as much confidence as any preparation known to the apothecary. Indeed, no prescription is known equally beneficial to such differently made patients.
A large majority of those who resort to the springs for their health have tried other means of cure without relief.
It may also be considered a marked compliment to the medicinal properties of the waters, that the thousands who come here for pleasure merely, living fast and indulging in dissipation while here, return to their homes in better health—as they almost always do—than when they came.