How about some relief, rejuvenation and relaxation? Sounds relaxing just to talk about it. Come to the beauty surrounding Hot Springs, Arkansas and that's just what you'll find. Forty-seven hot springs flow out of the Ouachita Mountains and President Andrew Jackson, in 1832, set aside land for the enjoyment of future generations and designated Hot Springs the first Federal Reservation. This designation made Hot Springs National Park America’s first area nationwide to be set aside for protection by the federal government and the only national park within a city. It is also the smallest park in the National Park System and the oldest, 40 years older than Yellowstone National Park. Walking down the Grand Promenade lined with huge magnolia trees, nine bath houses has been restored to their former glory days however only 2 of the 9 are bath houses or spas. People have used the hot spring water in therapeutic baths for more than two hundred years to treat rheumatism and other ailments. Sadly as the medical profession quit prescribing them for medicinal purposes, they just couldn't survive. The bath houses were very popular with the rich and famous, who traveled by train to the area, in the early 1900's and their peak was in the mid 40's when the Maurice House alone gave over 67,000 baths in 1946. In 1974 they gave only 6500 baths and closed their doors that November. In their Golden Age the Bath Houses had over a million visitors a year. Strolling down Bath House Row you can almost feel the elite sitting on the front verandas sipping cups to "quaff the elixir" (drink heartily of a liquid that is believed to extend one's life forever), in their fancy hats and duds with the streets lined with expensive cars from the era. The other 7 bath houses are leased by the National Park System to businesses so they can afford to do the upkeep and maintain the glory of the old buildings. In the early days a Mineral Bath cost $2.30 and now range anywhere from $30.00 to $90.00, all in private rooms (hoping to go for a bath tomorrow), In the beginning all were like big swimming pools (most open air) with the men and women separated. All of the springs are now covered to keep them from contamination. The water flows from the springs, depending on how wet the year was, 4000 plus years ago and the water ranges anywhere from 65 to 143 degrees. Putting your hand in the fountain or the one area where you can actually see and feel the water bubbling out from the ground, the water is so hot you can only stand to touch it for a second. Scientists have determined (don't as me how?) that the water coming out of the springs are over 4000 years old! The park collects 700,000 gallons of water a day for public use and people go to the 5 stations around the small city to fill their containers, jugs, and bottles of this health remedy for drinking. It is delicious tasting but definitely has a mineral taste to it.
Next it was on to the Hot Springs Mountain Tower which towers over 600 feet above the park and city below. Overlooking 140 miles with a 360 degree view, it stands 1256 feet above sea level. There is a museum on the second deck which tells a lot about the many springs in the area. A breathtaking view to be sure and one can only imagine how gorgeous it is when the trees start to turn which surprisingly they haven't (they are predicting early November). The area is surrounded by seven lakes, 2 of which you can see from the Observation Deck of the tower. The countryside is very beautiful and thick with pine, dogwoods, oaks and redbud trees, all native to Arkansas.
Our last stop of the day was to the Mountain Valley Spring Water Company whose famous water was delivered every day to the White House for Presidents from Calvin Coolidge to Bill Clinton. President Eisenhower started drinking it daily in 1955 after having a heart attack, on the recommendation of his physician. Many other famous people have been hooked on the water from Elvis Presley to John Lennon and Mohammad Ali, Elizabeth Taylor (suppose that was her secret) to Tom Cruise, Demi Moore and countless others. It has been bottled since 1871 and continues to be distributed in over 40 states and has been on the sets of TV shows Gray's Anatomy and Mad About You to name a few and several movie sets. Cheap it is NOT...a case of twenty-four 16 oz. bottles cost a whopping $25.00! Does it cure all that ails you? Many claim yes and so is it worth the price? We report...you decide!
For SOME reason my photos aren't uploading. Time for bed. Will try again tomorrow!