Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hot Springs ~ Fordyce Bathhouse

Hot Springs, Arkansas is world renowned for its hot springs and the thermal mineral baths available here from the mid 1800s to today.  "About a million gallons of 143-degree water flow from the springs each day. The rate of flow is not affected by fluctuations in the rainfall in the area. Studies by National Park Service scientists have determined through carbon dating that the water that reaches the surface in Hot Springs fell as rainfall in an as-yet undetermined watershed 4,000 years earlier. The water percolates very slowly down through the earth’s surface until it reaches superheated areas deep in the crust and then rushes rapidly to the surface to emerge from the 47 hot springs." Source: Wikipedia

Rich is drinking the 4,000 year old hot mineral water at one of the water stations where anyone can fill containers with water at no cost or limit.

In the historic downtown and on Bathhouse Row there are several hot springs fountains. Here comes a shocker...I love fountains! They fall into that category which includes installation art and know, like my love of bridges too. Digressing again, I know. Here are three of the fountains.

My favorite though is the one in front of the original Hot Springs National Park Visitors' Center. Just look at the fabulous coloration of the mosses and the effects of the minerals over time...magnificent.
Although the bathing industry declined dramatically in the late 1940s. There are still four bathhouses in operation in this picturesque little town. All of the bathhouses are large, architecturally beautiful buildings. Yesterday, we toured the restored Fordyce Bathhouse which currently serves as the Visitors Center for Hot Springs National Park.

As you might guess from the size of this bathhouse, there were treatments available for many maladies such as foot cysts, colonic problems, and others that modern medicine would cringe at today, but the main function was the healing properties of the baths. The mens' and womens' changing stalls and bathing areas were very separate but the design and materials were the same. Here is one of the individual bathing rooms.

There were dramatic differences, however, in the size and features with the women's facilities being very small and utilitarian while the much larger men's facilities are quite grand.

These are doors to two of the seven bathing rooms in the women's area.

There were thirty bathing rooms in the mens' area surrounding a large open area that is lined with marble benches as seen here. In the center of this area is the fountain with a sculpture of DeSoto being offered a drink by an Indian maiden.

This stained glass ceiling is centered above the sculpture/fountain in the mens' opulent bathing facility.

Two other areas that have been restored with their original equipment and furnishings...

The equipment displayed in the men's gymnasium are original pieces.

The large assembly room on the third floor was a gathering place for all guests of the Fordyce. The intricately patterned tile floor gives the impression of a carpet and the curved ceiling has several full-width stained glass panels.
Let's be clear. No doubt this is more information than you ever wanted about hot springs bathing facilities but after Rich and I spent half of our lives an entire morning wandering through these rooms listening to a long winded well-informed tour guide, the least you can do is read this post!!!
Lovin' Life ~~ Even This Tour

1 comment:

  1. I loved this post! LaVyrle Spenser set part of one of my favorite historical novels, The Gamble, here. Now I am seeing what I read about!


Please leave a comment, I love reading them!