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March 26th, 2007

Off to "Take the Waters"


I am totally excited as I head south to Hot Springs, Arkansas where two of my daughters along with their two little ones are headed in a couple of hours.  The healing waters will get rid of the last bit of this virus that has challenged me this week, and my do so love to be "on the road".  Wishing everyone here a safe and happy week!!

The city takes its name from the natural thermal water that flows from 47 springs on the western slope of Hot Springs Mountain in the historic downtown district of the city. Approximately 800,000 gallons of 143-degree water flows 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.

Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto was the first European to visit what Native Americans referred to as the Valley of the Vapors when he and his men reached the area in 1541. Members of many Native American tribes had been gathering in the valley for untold numbers of years to enjoy the healing properties of the thermal springs. There was agreement among the tribes that they would put aside their weapons and partake of the healing waters in peace while in the valley.

Congress established the Hot Springs Reservation in 1832, granting federal protection of the thermal waters and giving Hot Springs the honor of being the first “national park” to be designated for such government protection. Hot Springs National Park was formally created in 1911.

World-famous Bathhouse Row, consisting of eight turn-of-the century structures, lies within the National Park and is supervised by the Park Service. Only one of the bathhouses, The Buckstaff, remains in operation. However, another bathhouse, the Fordyce, has been converted into a museum to give tourists a glimpse into the fascinating past of the city. The federally supervised natural thermal waters are also used for thermal bathing at several downtown hotels, health spas and the Arkansas Rehabilitation Center. The water is available free for drinking at several fountains in the downtown area.

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