“Here nature calls from fortunes frown her children of disease . And bids them throw their crutches down andgo where’er they please”( John C. Hale, bathhouse owner, 1847)
Moving into week two of our road trip , Ruth and I crossed over the spring flood swollen waters overflowing the banks of the Mississippi River into Central Arkansas for a two day visit to the historic town of Hot Springs. Known as the “Valley of the Vapors”, Hot Springs has long been a popular tourist haven known for its therapeutic spring waters, celebrity sightings, and illicit “underworld” presence. Armed with such knowledge, our leisurely walking tour downtown and short drive to nearby historic landmarks would reveal convincing evidence of Hot Springs’ illustrious past. My favorite photographs of our visit are thus presented below.
OZARK REGION ACCOMMODATIONS
Booking our first Air B&B apartment of this road trip along a steeply wooded ridge would provide a well deserved respite from our long driving days on the road. A short drive away, we discovered the inconspicuous presence of ex. President Bill Clinton’s boyhood home.
BATHHOUSE ROW – OUCH! THAT’S HOT
Walking along the “Grand Promenade”, traversing old downtown from above, we observed a series of ornately built, thermal bathhouses built in the early twentieth century Taking a closer along the grounds of several of these now defunct facilities, boiling hot springs still spewed forth to tantalize our curious mind.
HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK
The restored Fordyce Bathhouse has been restored by the National Service to its original condition. On our tour of the 23 rooms in this complexly designed facility, we gained a realistic picture of traditional hot water treatments for obtaining physical/emotional cures in the past. Interestingly, recent scientific studies now question the medicinal qualities of hot springs water treatments as ultimately effective. Interestingly we later read that movie celebrities, sports heroes, and organized crime bosses had been frequent recipients of such spa treatments there in the past.
OLD ARLINGTON HOTEL
Alongside Bathhouse Row, this famous tourist accommodation stands as out prominently as an authentic time testament to the “heydays” of Hot Springs’ gloried past. Upon entering, its luxurious lobby, an authentic anniversary exhibit of this hotel from 1925- 2000 captivated our attention. Witness also that Al Capone and his “mob” entourage were frequent room occupants here.
GANGSTER MUSEUM OF AMERICA
In a town filled with past gambling, bootlegging, prostitution, and other illicit activities, a visit to this museum sounded tempting. Unfortunately the $14.00 entry fee, “tacky” tourist trap” look, and lack of nearby parking dissuaded us from visiting on this particular visit.
We will be driving close by the flood swollen regions of Nebraska next. We hope to safely lend a helping hand as a volunteer there. Stay tuned for this theme in my next blog. Namaste