Friday, January 6, 2012

Day 1 in Hot Springs National Park Arkansas

from Wikipeadia:

Established from Hot Springs Reservation, Hot Springs National Park is a United States National Park in central Arkansas adjacent to the city of Hot Springs. Hot Springs Reservation was initially created by an act of the United States Congress on April 20, 1832, and the area was made a national park on March 4, 1921. It is the smallest national park by area in the United States. Since Hot Springs National Park is the oldest federal reserve, it was the first to receive its own US quarter in April 2010 as part of the America the Beautiful Quarters series.

The hot springs flow from the western slope of Hot Springs Mountain, part of the Ouachita Mountain range. In the park, the hot springs have not been preserved in their unaltered state as natural surface phenomena. They have instead been managed to conserve the production of uncontaminated hot water for public use. The mountains within the park are also managed within this conservation philosophy in order to preserve the hydrological system that feeds the springs.

People have used the hot spring water in therapeutic baths for more than two hundred years to treat rheumatism and other ailments. While it was a reservation, the area developed into a well-known resort nicknamed The American Spa that attracted not only the wealthy but indigent health seekers from around the world as well.

The park includes portions of downtown Hot Springs, making it one of the most easily visited national parks. There are numerous hiking trails and camping areas. Bathing in spring water is available in approved facilities at extra cost. The entire Bathhouse Row area is a National Historic Landmark District that contains the grandest collection of bathhouses of its kind in North America, including many outstanding examples of Gilded Age architecture. The row's Fordyce Bathhouse serves as the park's visitor center; the Buckstaff and Quapaw are currently the only facilities still operating as bathhouses. Other buildings of the row are currently in various states of interior restoration or are used in other capacities.

The park has become increasingly popular in recent years, and recorded over 1.5 million visitors in 2003, as well as nearly 2.5 million non-recreational visitors.



Open Hot Springs


Fordyce Bathhouse

from the National Parks web site:

Light gray glaze colored cherub sitting on a shell shape surrounding a fish head that was a fountain. Surrounding tile is a blue green color

Shell fountain in lobby.

The first floor introduces you to the beauty of the bathhouse. From the lobby's marble and stained glass transoms, to the marble partitions of the bath halls, to the stained glass ceiling in the Men's Bath Hall, you can see why the Fordyce Bathhouse was considered to be the best. This ceramic fountain is at one end of the Fordyce lobby. Spring water flowed from the spout at one time.

The Fordyce Bathhouse operated from 1915-1962, when it closed due to declining business. It remained vacant until reopening as the park visitor center in 1989. Now you can watch an orientation movie, shop the Eastern National store, and tour.

The men's massage room with a narrow bed covered with a white sheet,

Electrotherapy was once part of the massage department offerings.

The Dressing Rooms and Men's Massage Rooms originally dominated the second floor. Now you can see modern exhibits in one of the former dressing rooms. You can watch a 9-minute movie that shows the traditional bath routine.

color photo of the Fordyce gym with a maple floor, wood wainscoting, windows on two sides, spring board in the left foreground, parallel bars in the right foreground, rings, leather-covered medicine ball and other equipment if the background

Fordyce Bathhouse Gymnasium

The third floor showcases the Music Room. Its patterned tile floor, stained glass ceiling and Knabe grand piano exude opulence. State Rooms speak of the luxury of relaxation, while the Gymnasium gives a glimpse of the forerunner of modern health clubs.

Old black and white photo of two men bowling; each is holding ball ready to roll it down the lane; one man sits in the background


Businessmen enjoying the two lanes at the Fordyce bowling alley.

The Fordyce was the only bathhouse to have a bowling alley. The Fordyce Spring was on display in the basement, too, while other areas were strictly for maintenance of the bathhouse. Today you can still see the Fordyce Spring, the original Otis elevator mechanism and use modern rest rooms.


The Stained Glass ceiling in the Men Bathhouse


the men's bath fountain.


Steam Chambers


Music room


Men’s parlor



we stopped for lunch then went to the Buckstaff Baths to experience the “bath”



I had a 2 hour bath which included a 20 minute bath then a soaping down by an attendant, then a 10 minute sitz bath, then 2 minutes in a steam room, then a 10 minute prone hot towel rest and finally a shower.

The shower was similar to this one.


Teri had something similar on the ladies side except she also had a massage.

We then went to the book store at the Lamar Bathhouse.



We then went for drive up the mountain behind bathhouse row and stopped at the outlook



Sunset over the mountains


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