While you are visiting in the Hot Springs area, you will want to stop by the Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park, AR. This well-preserved historic landmark has been the place where millions of people came for centuries to get relief and healing from many different ailments.
The Indians were certainly avid users of the natural healing powers of the hot springs, which are warmed up to 143 degrees. Prior to the invention of modern medicine, this was one of the most effective and favorite methods of getting the needed relief.
Some of the more famous guests to the bathhouses include famous people such as President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Babe Ruth. It seems that the gangster Al Capone also loved to come here.
In order to accommodate the people that wanted to enjoy the healing powers of the waters, many bathhouses were built here. Each one often had its own architectural style and it may have been totally different than the one right next door. Visitors can see bathhouses that were designed and built in Spanish, Italianate, neoclassical, and renaissance-revival styles. Altogether, eight large bathhouses were built, but only one is still operational today - the Buckstaff.
Wanting to preserve the benefit of the natural Hot Springs for future generations, the US Government obtained the area as the first Federal Reserve in 1832. At that time, there were 47 natural hot springs that did not have the typical sulfur smell of many other hot springs.
Visitors now can visit the Park and see the magnificent buildings, which are well cared for. One of them, the Fordyce, now serves as the Visitor Center. It was probably the most luxurious of all of the bathhouses, and this was the goal of the founder - Col. Samuel Fordyce. At that time, it included almost anything that could be desired for health and fun. Inside the luxurious building, there was a gym, a bowling alley, a billiard room, a museum displaying various Indian artifacts, and even a spot on the roof for getting some sun.
The luxuriousness of the Fordyce can immediately be seen when you visit the Center. It was built in the Spanish Renaissance Revival style, and marble is used to decorate the halls. There are also cherub fountains, aquatic images in the stained glass, featuring the god of the sea - Neptune, and much more. There is also a hall giving tribute to DeSoto, who first discovered the healing properties of the water and led Europeans there.
Not far from the Fordyce, there are two different scenic drives that can be taken to view the park and the Hot Springs Mountain. Either one takes about 45 minutes. The one to Hot Springs Mountain has several parking areas for overlooks and also the Mountain Tower on the summit - all of which offer tremendous views of the area.
Guests can take advantage of the Hot Springs and can get a bath at the Buckstaff. No appointment is needed. They provide a bath sheet and personal lock box for your personal items. You can get a private bath and soak, take advantage of their steam cabinets, Sitz tubs, cool down shower, and massage, and feel like a new person when you are done.
The Bathhouse Row, Hot Springs National Park, AR, is waiting to amaze and relax you with the luxuriousness of its buildings and healing waters. It can be a real getaway that soothes you physically and mentally.