Lava Hot Springs and the Portneuf River was deeded to the state of Idaho in 1902 to provide a health and recreation facility. The state built a natatorium in 1918 and now oversees operation of the swimming pools and hot baths through the Lava Hot Springs Foundation. The foundation is an agency that acts within the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. The springs are often referred to as “the healing waters,” because many people believe the springs have curative properties. The springs have been a gathering place for many years for a place to rest, worship, and bathe. It is rumored that long ago the springs were neutral ground and shared in peace by all. The springs and land were part of a treaty between local Native Americans and the federal government in the late 1800s. The government purchased the springs and land, amounting to approximately 178 acres.