Colorado Sanitarium

The Colorado Sanitarium, a branch of Dr. J.H. Kellogg’s Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, was dedicated in Boulder, originally to combat tuberculosis in Boulder’s dry climate and high altitude.


Boulder’s 311 Mapleton property at the base of Mt. Sanitas has long had a healthcare focus: before it was Boulder Community Hospital’s Mapleton Center, and before it was Boulder Memorial Hospital, it was a sanatorium. Patients at the sanitorium rested in wheelchairs as they took in the scenery and fresh air of Colorado. Founded in the 1890s by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (yes, the Kellogg we now associate with cereal), the sanitarium emphasized exercise (including hikes up Mt. Sanitas), alternative treatments like electroshock and hydrotherapy, and the power of a good diet. On the advice of Dr. Kellogg, patients ate strict vegetarian diets and an abundance of cereals and grains. In fact, an on-site factory produced the corn flakes and other health foods for which the Kellogg Company is now known.

Many early patients at “the San” had tuberculosis, the “White Plague” that Americans so greatly feared in the 1800s. Doctors believed that sunshine, fresh air, and altitude were essential to treating the disease, and encouraged tuberculosis patients to move from the humid climate of the East Coast to the drier climate of Colorado. As sanitariums sprang up throughout the state, Colorado’s reputation as a Wild West frontier gave way to a reputation as a healthy and health-conscious area. However, Colorado’s sanatoriums–including “the San”–stopped taking TB patients in the early 1900s after scientists discovered that the disease was communicable rather than hereditary.

The sanitorium continued to treat non-tuberculosis patients and to develop new treatments and facilities. By 1962, the Sanitorium became Boulder Memorial Hospital and merged its natural remedies with medical departments that utilized the newest technologies. Boulderites today continue in the health-conscious vein of the sanitorium and its successors, taking advantage of both healthcare technology and clean eating, exercise, and alternative therapies to ensure their health is the best it can be.

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