Tales From The Camping House

Tales From The Camping House

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hot Springs National Park

Tuesday, we left Texas to make the 150 mile drive to Crystal Springs Campground, 15 miles from Hot Springs, Arkansas.  This is another Corps of Engineers Park on Lake Ouachita.

Here's our view out the back window.

The Canadian Geese come visit each morning.

We woke up the first morning and saw the steam rising from the lake.  It was cooler than normal and the high was only supposed to be in the low 80's, very unusual for this time of year.

We knew we had to take off and make the best of this cooler than normal weather.

First, we drove over to the Blakely Mountain Dam

and drove over the spillway

then, took the stairs from the top of the spillway down to the lake.

Our next destination was Hot Springs National Park.

The National Park had its beginnings as Hot Springs Reservation to protect the 47 hot springs. The government took active control of the springs after all the private claims on reservation land were settled in 1877.  It approved blueprints for private bathhouses ranging from simple to luxurious.  The government even operated a free bathhouse for those unable to pay for baths recommended by their physicians.  Hot Springs came to be called "The American Spa."  Bathhouses were up and down the magnolia lined walkway.  However, as time went on, things changed and most bathhouses were closed by the 1960's and had fallen into disrepair.  In 2004, funds were received to begin restoration.

We started our tour on the Grand Promenade walkway.  It is a half mile walk behind and above Bathhouse Row.  People would walk up and down parading their fashions after relaxing in the baths.

Just before you head off on the Grand Promenade route, this beautiful building can be seen on top of the hill. It is now the Arkansas Career Training Institute, but it was originally the Army and Navy General Hospital.  The first one was built on this site in 1886 as the first permanent military hospital in the U.S. The present building was built in 1933.

We loved looking at the architecture throughout the town.

Next, we headed to the Fordyce Bathhouse that has been completely restored and is open for self guided tours.  There is also a guided tour each afternoon at 2.  This was the best bathhouse in Hot Springs in 1915.

Water coming directly from the hot springs is 143 degrees then is cooled to 100 degrees for bathing.

The men's bath hall has marble benches and this bronze statue in the middle

and this gorgeous stained glass window in the ceiling.

Here's Music Room with the Women's Lounge on one end and the Men's Lounge on the other.  I loved the stained glass panels in the roof.

There was even a complete gymnasium on the third floor.

Quapaw Bathhouse is now opened as a day spa.

Buckstaff Bathhouse has been in continuous operation since it opened in 1912 and you can still have the "hot springs bath experience" here.

 After our tour and walk throughout the town, we stopped at the fountain outside the Administration Building to fill our water bottles with water being pumped directly from the hot springs.  There are several fountains throughout the town where you can bring your containers to fill them with the spring water at no cost.

 We had visited Hot Springs about 10 years ago and it was wonderful to see that the buildings have been restored and are in use again.

1 comment:

  1. Can't wait to go to Hot Springs National Park. May have to try the full bathhouse treatment at Buckstaff Bathhouse!