History of Hot Springs, Arkansas
Hot Springs, the seat of Garland County, is located in the picturesque Ouachita Mountains, largely surrounded by Hot Springs National Park. It gets its name from the natural spring water that flows out of the ground at 147 degrees F.
Those famous waters pervade the history of Hot Springs,
Arkansas. Before the white man set foot in the valley, the hot springs were known as a place of peace, and various tribes would gather to enjoy the mysterious waters.
In 1541, the Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto became the first European explorer to visit the springs. Hernando and his troops stayed for several weeks, enjoying the special waters. French trappers, traders and hunters became familiar with the region in the late 17th century. The United States acquired the area in 1803 when it was purchased in the Louisiana Territory from France.
The hot springs were the main attraction for Jean Prudhomme, the first settler in Hot Springs, as well as others, including Ludovicus Belding, who by 1832 was renting rooms to those who were attracted to the place by its “healing waters.” The hot springs were designated in 1832 as the first national reservation, to prevent their commercial exploitation. Hot Springs National Park was established in 1921.
Hot Springs was incorporated as a town in 1876 and chartered as a city in 1879. It was devastated by fire in 1878. Major fires recurred in 1905, 1913, and 1923.
During the early 1900s, thousands of people flocked the area to experience the waters’ curative powers. Elaborate bathhouses were built to house the large number of tourists visiting the place for springs and spa treatments. Historic Bathhouse Row is a group of eight architecturally significant bathhouses, of which most were constructed between 1912 and 1923.
The Mid-America Science Museum is a hands-on attraction for children as well as adults. Garvan Woodland Gardens is Arkansas’ first botanical garden. Hot Springs Mountain Tower is an observation tower rising 216 feet to provide 360 degree views of the area.
Garland County Community College, established in 1973, merged with the Quapaw Technical Institute in 2003 to form National Park Community College.
The second oldest hospital in Arkansas, St. Joseph’s Hospital opened in 1888. About 20 years later, Levi Hospital, also a non-profit, was established in Hot Springs.
Hot Springs National Park
Hot springs in the middle of town?
Water. That’s what first attracted people, and they have been coming here ever since to use these soothing thermal waters to heal and relax. Rich and poor alike came for the baths, and a thriving city built up around the hot springs. Together nicknamed “The American Spa,” Hot Springs National Park today surrounds the north end of the city of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Come discover it for yourself.
Hot Springs National Park was once known as Hot Springs Reservation. It was set aside in 1832 to protect the Park’s primary resource, the hot springs.This type of Reservation was an early version of the National Park idea.Hot Springs was actually the first area in the United States to be set aside for its natural features.After Yellowstone was formed in 1872, Hot Springs was managed with it. In 1916 the National Park Service was formed and in 1921, Hot Springs Reservation changed its name to Hot Springs National Park, making it the 18th National Park in the Service.
Hot Springs National Park is best known for the 47 hot springs that come out of the Hot Springs Mountain at an average 143° Fahrenheit.
Hot Springs National Park is the only unit of the national park system that is mandated to give away its primary natural resource to the general public in an unending and unaltered state. Drinking the hot springs water is perfectly normal, even encouraged. The water is naturally potable (good to drink) when it arrives at the surface of Hot Springs Mountain. Thousands of visitors highly endorse the good quality of the hot springs water and fill bottles to take home.
Unfortunately, we do not have any thermal water spring “in nature” where you can get into. Since our water is 143° (F) and is too hot to submerge your body in, there are two operating bathhouses on the Row where you can fully experience the water and drinking fountains have been built so people can enjoy the water that has given the park and the city its name.
The Gables Inn B & B
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this Victorian house was first built in 1904 by Fred and Myrtle Sammons, it was the home of their dreams.
Then, just living in their new home for only nine months, what every home owner fears happened. Early in 1904, a fire that started in the downtown area and burned down most of Hot Springs at that time also burned down their dream home, there was nothing left standing.
Fred and Myrtle were undaunted in their dream of having a home in Hot Springs. Shortly after the fire they started to rebuild their home just the way it stood before. By the end of 1905 they moved back in their home.
The Gables opened for business in 1993. In 1996 David and Judy bought the inn and are the longest continuously operating B & B innkeepers in the Hot Springs area.