The History of Bristol Cabins


Situated in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho on the Hudspeth cutoff from the Oregon Trail, Bristol Park was originally a stagecoach stop along the historically renowned trail west. Once ore was discovered on the mountains rising above the property, the housing became a little more permanent.

J.G., C.A., and Susie Bristol

The first known owners were J.G. Bristol, C.A. Bristol (J.G’s brother) and Susie Bristol (J.G.’s wife). The Bristols purchased the land in 1905 and rented cabins to ore miners. C.A. himself was a miner and was eventually killed in a collapse.

After Anton’s death, Susie turned the mining camp into a tourist resort, and with the first commercial interest in the naturally flowing hot springs in town, tourists began to flood in from all around the country and the world. The resort was run mainly by Susie herself, and she named it Bristol Tourist Park.

Bristol Cabins circa ~1919

Bristol Cabins circa ~1919 – Image Provided by Andi Skillman

The Idaho Conference of the Methodist-Episcopal Church

In 1919, Susie Bristol turned over ownership of the property to the Idaho Conference of the Methodist-Episcopal Church, a religious corporation organized out of Boise, Idaho.

In 1920, the Corporation mortgaged the property for $10,000 for the purpose of purchasing additional land and erecting a permanent building to provide a home for retired missionaries. However, many obstacles were encountered and eventually the project was abandoned and the property returned to Susie Bristol.

Susie Bristol

Susie loved flowers and had many beautiful flower gardens that were enjoyed by guests of Bristol Park. She also operated the cabins and cooked for tourists until her death.

Before Suzie died, she supposedly buried all of her wealth and precious personal belongings somewhere on the property. No evidence has been found of this rumored treasure, but residents continue to keep an eye out for items of value when digging in the area.

There is speculation of a possible speakeasy being operated out of the residence to provide extra income for the widowed entrepreneur. Evidence has been found in a cave underneath the house indicating frequent use before a quick cover-up.

James and Mary Rikos

In the 1940’s, James and Mary Rikos purchased the property and renamed it Tourist Haven, continuing to rent it out to tourists and provide services to guests.

James was a talented woodcarver and some of his carvings, which he sold out of his cafe at Bristol, now reside in the Lava Hot Springs museum. Mary cooked chicken dinners that gained fame from the mode of preparation; the chickens were slaughtered fresh for the order and fried up on the spot.

An original document explaining the Bristol property.

An original document from the Rikos days explaining their intent for the Bristol property.

The Rikos’ were of Greek origin, and were known to have practiced positive witch craft on the premises. The rituals often included various stone runes, which have been found buried a foot or two below ground. They apparently blessed the land and had a strong connection with the natural aspects of the area.

Following the death of his wife, Mary, Jim retired and returned to his native Greece

Herb and Arlene Morris

Herb and Arlene Morris, purchased the property from the Rikos’ in the 1970’s closing it to the public and using it strictly as a summer vacation home. It remained closed until 1994, when Ray and Nancy Petrun bought it and restored it to running status. Three bedrooms, a hallway and a bathroom were built on to the main house by Ray along with a modern furnace and copper piping.

Ray and Nancy Petrun

Ray and Nancy ran the resort from 1994 to 2000 under the name Bristol Park Historic Cabins before a divorce sent Nancy and the children out of state.

The large cabin, now an office and hostel.

The large cabin, now an office and hostel.

The path to the mountain, circa 1990's.

The path to the mountain, circa 1990’s.

The entrance from the Petrun family era.

The entrance from the Petrun family era.

Ray continued to run the resort until his death in 2002 at which point his children, Andrew, Collin, and Annaleigh, inherited his half of the title. With all of the children being under the age of 18 at the time and living with their mother, there was not much that could be done except to put it on the market. Nancy, being a single mother of three, was unable to find the time to manage the resort from across country. The property was left largely unattended, aside from several instances in which friends of the family took temporary residence on the property, such as Dean Bailey, who ran the resort and looked after the residence from 2006-2008.

Current Status

In the summer of 2012, Collin and Annaleigh moved to the property in hopes of restoring it and maintaining a productive, creative community in conjunction with the tourist resort aspect of the property. Collin has been making summer visits to the property every year since his graduation from high school in 2010 and has invested his savings in repairing and maintaining the property. Annaleigh graduated from high school just prior to her residence at Bristol and turned down an offer for a college scholarship to contribute her efforts towards the restoration and maintenance project.

Collin and Annaleigh Petrun as children on the property.

Collin and Annaleigh Petrun as children on the property.

The Petruns work alongside a group of Community residents to restore and maintain the property for tourists and travelers to Visit Bristol Cabins.