Last week I asked: Where can you soak in warm waters?
Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Since ancient times people have sought out natural springs for their curative powers.
New York State has several natural mineral springs such as the famed Saratoga Springs; but, alas, none of them are hot springs – or even warm.
There are some world-famous hot water spas; some of which have been in use since ancient Roman times.
The World Heritage City of Bath is England’s only natural hot springs where people can enjoy the mineral-rich waters just as the Romans did more than 2,000 years ago.
Several years ago, John and I were in Iceland and enjoyed the hot waters of the Blue Lagoon.
It is a man-made lagoon fed by the water output of a nearby geothermal power plant.
The water is renewed every two days.
It is the largest one in the world.
The temperature of the water is about 100 but there were spots where the water was entering the lagoon that was way too hot to be comfortable.
Like hot springs everywhere the water had a high mineral content making my hair feel like straw.
Tip of the day: wear a bathing cap or don’t get your hair wet.
Worldwide there were a multitude of springs touted for the beneficial qualities.
The bathhouse/spa industry had declined by the mid-20th century as advances were made in medicine.
But, they are now enjoying a renaissance.
Many hot springs turned into resorts where people went for relaxation and treatment.
President Franklin Roosevelt was in Warm Springs, Georgia, when he passed away.
He found the water beneficial after his bout with polio and set up the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation (now the Roosevelt Warm Springs institute for Rehabilitation) to help others afflicted with the disease.
His little White House and the Institute are part of a Historic District.
Roosevelt could have chosen Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Hot Springs was the first federally protected area having been so designated in 1832.
Hot Springs was, in essence, America’s first national park even though it wasn’t official until 1921.
The government protects the 47 natural mineral hot springs which do not have the sulfur smell of most hot springs.
Some of the bathhouses sit directly over a hot spring.
The National Park Visitor Center is housed in the Fordyce Bathhouse, one of eight bathhouses constructed in the early 1900s.
Many of the rooms have been restored portraying an accurate depiction of how the bathhouses looked and operated in their heyday.
Bathhouse Row has bathhouses, gardens, shops, and other buildings.
The existing bathhouses are a collection early 1900s neoclassic, Spanish and Italianate architecture with formal entrances, outdoor fountains and promenades.
The Quapaw Baths & Spa is the newest of the bathhouses to be refurbished and open to the public.
Housed in the 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival building guests can enjoy the therapeutic thermal waters along with other rejuvenating treatments.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is housed in the former Ozark Bathhouse.
It showcases artists from around the world.
Hot Springs was named “No. 4 Small Art Town.”
It was not only those seeking rest and rejuvenation who visited Hot Springs, Arkansas.
At one time Hot Springs was a Mecca for gangsters.
They found it a safe place to rest, recreate and gamble.
Two of the area’s more famous visitors, Lucky Luciano and Al Capone, are remembered in the Gangster Museum.
The vices were never legal but authorities basically ignored the goings on until 1967 when Winthrop Rockefeller was elected governor and “cleaned up” things.
Travel Trivia Tease™: Who was the Great Emancipator?
Look for the answer next week.
Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!