August 5, 2015
It was going to be another hot day, so we decided it would be wise to get an early start to beat the heat. We wanted to explore historic downtown Hot Springs.
We left the campground at 9:15, drove downtown, and parked the truck but 9:30. We passed the old Army/Navy Hospital that was later converted to the Hot Springs Rehabilitation Center, using the hot water for treatments.
On the property, were 3 large openings emitting steam from the hot springs.
We began our walk along Central Avenue which is known as Bathhouse Row, which catered to thousands of health seekers back in the day.
Bathhouse Row housed numerous bathhouses in the 1800’s, eight of which still stand today in one form or another. The 47 springs in the area produce a flow of 700,000 gallons a day. The water is collected and distributed to the bathhouses, drinking and jug fountains.
Today green boxes cover most of the 47 springs to prevent contamination.
The first bathhouse that we came to was the Lamar.
It is part boutique and part administration offices for the park. It had been a bathhouse at one time. I was invited to have my picture taken in one of the old tubs, so I did.
The second building in the Row was the Buckstaff Bathhouse. One of the more distinguished buildings in the Row.
The Buckstaff is an active bathhouse that is open to the public with a traditional theraputic bathing experience, including showers, sitz tubs, vapor cabinets, and hot packs.
Other options include some of the regular spa services. The Buckstaff is the only bathhouse that has been in continued operation since 1912. Further down the Row, we came upon the Ozark Bathhouse.
The Ozark was closed for renovations and will reopen as the Museum of Contemporary Art of Hot Springs. Moving on, we came to the Quapaw Bathhouse.
The Qaupaw is open to the public and one of the most popular.
People were sitting on the veranda waiting for it to open at 10:00.
We got there just as it did and were invited to look around as the crowd scrambled to be checked in at the counter.
The Quapaw is a modern day spa with large co-ed pools–the only business using hot spring water in its pools.
The next stop was the Fordyce Bathhouse. Formerly the Palace Bathhouse sat at the same location.
The 1915 Fordyce Bathhouse has been restored as the park visitor center and museum. The bathhouse looks like it did in the early years. The public is allowed to take a self-guided tour of the bathhouse. There are three floors and all of the woman’s side and some of the men’s side of the building are outfitted with the furniture and equipment of the time….
steam cabinets and sitz baths..
and “needle” showers which control the diameter of the stream of water in all directions.
The men gathered in the bath halls (like a Roman bath) to wait their turn and socialize.
This Hubbard tub was used for physical therapy.
On the third floor, there was a gymnasium and workout area.
This area was used as a social area after partaking in the baths…a place to relax and socialize.
This bathhouse was very well restored and informative posters explained all about it. The Maurice and Hale Bathhouses were also under renovations.
The Superior Bathhouse was the last one in the Row.
It was converted into a Brewery and Craft Tasting Room, brewing the “world’s only beer made from thermal 144 degree spring water.”
We stopped for a beer and a sandwich for lunch and sat by the window.
We tried a flight of 4 beers and had a delicious reuben sandwich with blue cheese potato salad. Yum!
After lunch, we walked towards Arlington Lawn, which is a park, with a view of the historic Arlington Hotel ahead of us.
The park contained the Hot Water Cascade, which is an open thermal spring cascading from above. This shows how the area looked 200 years ago before anyone built a bathhouse.
We continued our walk on the Grand Promenade, an upper walkway behind and above Bathhouse Row, containing hot springs.
The walkway was paved and mostly shady.
It brought us to the Maurice Historic Spring Area and Display Springs. These are two thermal springs from which water still issues in open view.
After enjoying our walking tour of Bathhouse Row, we headed back to the campground. We had a few things to do before our departure tomorrow. The day was heating up, so we were glad to be back in the AC. We tried to stay cool as we completed our projects. This little bird started attacking our window as we watched him from the inside of the trailer. He must have seen his reflection and thought there was another bird around.
We have about 1,050 miles to go in the next 4 days to get home, so there will be a lot of driving. The weather has been fabulous so far. I hope it continues until we get home. Back on the road again….