Hot Springs is rife with an interesting history starting with the Native American inhabitants before the first Europeans arrived. The Native Americans referred to this area as Valley of the Vapors and they obviously understood the significance of the hot springs, befitting from the healing of the hot mineral waters.
In the mid-1500s Spanish and French settlers came to the area and Hernando de Soto visited the region in 1541. In the late 1800s bathhouses were completed and Hot Springs became an elegant spa resort. President Andrew Jackson named Hot Springs as the first federal reservation in 1832, which was essentially America’s first national park. For centuries, continuing today, people traveled to the Spa City for healing!
U.S. presidents visited Hot Springs to soak in the hot mineral waters and enjoy the flourishing amenities. In the late 1800s through the mid-1900s, Hot Springs became a popular spot for organized crime vacations with Al Capone, Frank Costello, Bugs Moran, Lucky Luciano visiting the area on a regular basis. The lively Gangster Museum will fill in the fun details!
In the 1880s, the Chicago White Stockings (now the Cubs) held spring training in Hot Springs with many teams following. Many baseball greats including Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and Cy Young trained in Hot Springs with their teams long before the grapefruit and citrus leagues began spring training in Arizona and Florida. The Army and Navy Hospital, the first combined hospital designed to treat patients in the Army and the Navy, opened as the first of its kind in the U.S. in Hot Springs.
Thoroughbred racing started in Hot Springs in 1904 at Essex Park with Oaklawn Park opening the following year. For more than 100 years, talented horses and horse people come to the city. Hot Springs has lots of historical places to visit in the city and lots of rich history to learn about. Some of the famous historical places in Hot Springs include:
- Hot Springs National Park Visitor Center
- Oaklawn Racing & Gaming
- Bathhouse Row with two bathhouses still in operation
- The Gangster Museum
- Hot Springs Baseball Trail
- The Ohio Club, the oldest bar in Arkansas
Planning a weekend to learn more about the rich history of Hot Springs will be both educational and fun. Stay at the Lookout Point while you’re in town for a great way to complement your getaway retreat. We offer a beautiful Inn situated on Lake Hamilton with relaxing and gorgeous views of the Lake from each room. Our gourmet breakfasts are out of this world and our attention to detail in every area of the Inn is exquisite. Make reservations online or give us a call at 501.525.6155 and we’ll help you plan your visit to this lively Spa City.
We are excited to live in Hot Springs, and look forward to the city’s grand future.