Soap Lake’s historian/filmmaker Kathy Kiefer confirms what we only suspected. This is indeed Horace Sykes’ look over Soap Lake from its southwest corner. Kathy writes, “I concur that not only is that Soap Lake, I venture to say that it is one of the enclaves used by nude bathers on that southwest corner of the lake. Male sunbathers created the stone circles to alert others that they were nestled within. The women often made tent like structures – much more private. I am sure we talked at some point about the nude beach and the thriving naturist community on the southwest side of the lake?”
When Jean visited Soap Lake in 2005 Kathy was his guide and his “repeat model” as well. Below you see Kathy standing in for the angel of mercy included in the historical photo below it, which dates from about 1922. In many printings of this popular postcard, the promise “It Will Cure You” has been written over the rocks by the card’s publisher. The white-robed angel of therapy is leading a lame and bandaged victim to the alkaline-rich waters of Soap Lake, named for the froth skimmed by the wind and deposited on the beaches. When the lake’s popularity as a mineral-rich panacea gained momentum in the early 20th century, this southern shore was quickly stocked with hotels and all the attractions of a fetching health resort, including massage, mud baths, mineral soaks, and, of course, swimming in Soap Lake and drinking from it. The Siloam Sanitarium, seen on the horizon just below the angel’s gesturing hand, was one of the town’s grander retreats for treating both nervous afflictions and hypochondria.
Kathy Kiefer wound up in Soap Lake in August 1980 and stayed. “I rode from Kirkland over Stevens Pass right to the steps of Soap Lake’s Thorson’s Hotel where Roxie Thorson was sipping port and rocking in her steel chair. I had followed the ashen path. It was the year St. Helens blew.” Kathy’s admired film/video history of Soap Lake can be purchased through filmbaby.com. She also has a Soap Lake website: www.soaplakewa.com and a Soap Lake Facebook Fan page featuring lots of historic photos – among other things. Thanks for the help and stewardship Kathy.