Hot Springs, Arkansas

  By Sue Bray

With 47 natural springs that carry nearly a million gallons of 143 degree water to the surface daily, it is easy to understand why the city took the name of Hot Springs. The spring is part of a thermal watershed from rainfall that fell nearly 4000 years ago. Designated in 1832, it is the oldest Federal Reserve in the country.

There is archaeological evidence that many early Native American tribes visited the region for many years to partake in the healing powers of the springs. The area was claimed by France in 1673 when Jolliet’s explorations brought him to the region. It remained a French territory until 1763 when it was ceded to Spain via the terms of the Treaty of Paris. In 1800, control reverted back to France and lasted until 1803 when the area was included in the Louisiana Purchase.

The city of Hot Springs was nearly a total loss following the Civil War. Guerilla bands from both the North and South pillaged and burned many of the towns structures after most of its citizens had fled in fear. When the townspeople returned, they were determined to rebuild. New bathhouses and hotels were built and by the mid 1870s, the town had surpassed its pre-war population.

Gambling, though illegal, began to flourish in the city shortly after the end of the Civil War. This activity brought an element of crime that would lead to the corruption of politicians and law enforcement within the city. Even the infamous Al Capone would come to Hot Springs to relax in his favorite retreat, the Arlington Hotel. Gambling remained a large part of the city’s economic existence until 1967 when it was finally and completely shut down.

The only gambling available in Hot Springs today is Oaklawn Park, a thoroughbred racetrack that is regarded as one of the best in the country. The Arkansas Derby is held at Oaklawn each year as a prelude to the Kentucky Derby.

RV Travel to Hot Springs is your ticket to Bathhouse Row. Eight historic, turn-of-the-century buildings are located in Hot Springs National Park and two of them have recently been reopened as fully functional spas. One of them, the old Fordyce, is a museum featuring artifacts and exhibits of the city’s glory days.

Culture abounds in Hot Springs with a very active fine arts community that has earned the city 4th place recognition as one of “Americas Top 100 Small Art Towns”. The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival is considered to be the finest documentary festival in the world and the Hot Springs Music Festival is another very popular annual event. The city also boasts two excellent theme parks, Magic Springs and Crystal Falls.

A Good Sam Club RV Park with outstanding Camping Discounts for members is nearby all the events and activities that Hot Springs has to offer and a RV Travel adventure to the Hot Springs region is sure to be a healthy and gratifying vacation for the entire family.

Visiting Arkansas soon? Find a Good Sam Park in Arkansas.