There is a spa town in the United States that had as many as eight public bathhouses.
However, only two of them are still in operation.
I traveled to Hot Springs, which symbolizes the glory of American hot springs culture and its decline.
Hot Springs National Park
Hot Springs, Arkansas, is one of the most well-known hot springs in the United States.
This city, where the 42nd President Bill Clinton spent his childhood, can be the most popular tourist and recreational city in the state.
This time, I will head north along the Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park, the first national park in the United States, to the Arlington Hotel.
Of the eight surviving public bath buildings, Lamar is located at the southern end.
This facility, which was open from 1923 to 1985, is now used as a gift shop.
The neoclassical building with its bright blue shades is the Buckstaff, which is still used as a bathhouse.
Since its opening in 1912, it has maintained a traditional soaking style.
After taking a bath in the small tub, you will receive a Swedish massage and other services in a predetermined order.
The next is Ozark.
This bathhouse, which was open from 1922 to 1977, is now used as an art gallery.
The Quapaw, a Spanish Colonial Revival building, opened in 1922 and is still in operation.
Visitors can wear swimsuits and soak in the indoor pools.
The water was clear and colorless, and even the hottest tub is lukewarm at about 102 degrees F.
The water temp was regulated by adding water; the smell of chlorine disinfection did not bother me much.
Open from 1914 to 1962, the Fordyce was the most luxurious bathhouse.
Its gorgeous appearance is a testament to the golden age of American hot springs.
Today, the interior is open to the public as the national park's visitor center (free admission).
This monstrous valves are a relic from a time when soaking in hot springs was firmly established as a medical practice.
The hot water, adjusted to various temperatures, was released from various angles; and as the patients watched, some of their illnesses were probably cured inadvertently.
Soakers with physical disabilities were able to move around the facility on boards suspended from the ceiling rails.
Many of the mechanisms that still give a futuristic impression today have become useless with the development of medicine.
The neighboring bathhouse, Maurice, was open from 1912-1974.
It is now closed.
The oldest bathhouse, Hale, was in operation from 1892 to 1978.
It is now closed, but unlike the others, it has a rustic atmosphere.
In fact, when the other bathhouses were built in the first half of the 20th century, illegal gambling was rampant, gangs were rampant, and the city government was corrupt.
The bathhouses were built in different eras and convey the atmosphere of that time to the present.
The Superior, located at the north end, was a bathhouse that was open from 1916 to 1983.
Today, it is a popular restaurant that serves beer brewed with the thermal water.
At the back of the bathhouses, the fountainhead spouted its own water.
The water temp at gushing point was 144 degrees F.
This area is not a volcanic zone, and there are no other hot spring areas in the vicinity.
It is considered a geologically rare hot spring, where rainwater that has seeped down to 1.5 miles underground and been heated by geothermal energy gushes to the surface along a fault line.
The drinking fountains on the streets were bustling.
Of the many spa towns, Hot Springs was particularly successful not only because of its accessibility from the densely populated East Coast, but also because of the quality of its water.
The elegant Spanish Renaissance building is a hot spring hotel that was established in 1875 and rebuilt in 1924 after a fire.
It was not only a regular lodging for Al Capone, the king of the underworld, but also for Franklin Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, Harry Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, and many other important people.
Despite its long history, there were no signs of having undergone much renovation.
It was nothing short of amazing to see a cultural heritage building, not much different from the bathhouses we had seen so far, still in full operation.
The hotel's bathhouse is located on the third floor and have the same orderly service style as the Buckstaff.
Hot water was available outdoors.
The pool with Jacuzzi overlooking the back of the hotel smelled strongly of chlorine disinfection, and the water at the Quapaw would be better.
If you are a hot spring enthusiast, you may want to pay extra to get a room with a hot tub.
When you make a reservation, select the room labeled MINERAL WATER and you will be assigned a room on the third floor, the same floor as the spa.
Here's a look at the old but beautiful guest room.
The bathroom, on the other hand, looks small and ordinary, with a shallow tub next to the toilet.
When I turned on the faucet, boiling water poured out at a tremendous speed, and it was too hot.
I let it cool naturally for a while and decided to soak in.
The freshness of the hot water was remarkable because it was not a characteristic quality of water.
At the end of a day in which I witnessed the glory of American hot spring culture and its decline, I took a dip in the water that was still bubbling away.
Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa, Hot Springs, Arkansas, U.S.
- TypeLodging / Walk-in (spa)
- RuleClothing required / Private pool / Room with thermal water
- ChlorinationPool: yes / Others: not detected
- Water tempUp to 144 degrees F