Hot Springs, Arkansas: Wikis


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Hot Springs, Arkansas
—  City  —
Location in Garland County and the state of Arkansas
Coordinates: 34°29′50″N 93°3′19″W / 34.49722°N 93.05528°W / 34.49722; -93.05528Coordinates: 34°29′50″N 93°3′19″W / 34.49722°N 93.05528°W / 34.49722; -93.05528
Country United States
State Arkansas
County Garland
 - Total 33 sq mi (85.5 km2)
 - Land 32.9 sq mi (85.2 km2)
 - Water 0.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)
Elevation 597 ft (182 m)
Population (2008)
 - Total 39,467
 - Density 1,083.3/sq mi (418.1/km2)
Time zone Central (CST) (UTC-6)
 - Summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Area code(s) 501
FIPS code 05-33400
GNIS feature ID 0077237

Hot Springs is the 10th most populous city in the U.S. state of Arkansas, the county seat of Garland County,[1] and the principal city of the Hot Springs Metropolitan Statistical Area encompassing all of Garland County. According to 2008 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city was 39,467.[2]

Hot Springs is traditionally best known for the natural spring water that gives it its name, flowing out of the ground at a temperature of 147 degrees Fahrenheit (64 degrees C). Hot Springs National Park is the oldest federal reserve in the USA, and the tourist trade brought by the famous springs make it a very successful spa town.


History and culture

The Ozark Bathhouse, along Hot Springs' famed "Bathhouse Row"

Natural springs

The city takes its name from the natural thermal water that flows from 47 springs on the western slope of Hot Springs Mountain in the historic downtown district of the city. About a million gallons of 143-degree water flow from the springs each day. The rate of flow is not affected by fluctuations in the rainfall in the area. Studies by National Park Service scientists have determined through carbon dating that the water that reaches the surface in Hot Springs fell as rainfall in an as-yet undetermined watershed 4,000 years earlier. The water percolates very slowly down through the earth’s surface until it reaches superheated areas deep in the crust and then rushes rapidly to the surface to emerge from the 47 hot springs.

A small channel of hot spring water known as Hot Springs Creek runs under ground from an area near Park Avenue to Bath House Row.

Discovery and settlement

Members of many Native American tribes had been gathering in the valley for untold numbers of years to enjoy the healing properties of the thermal springs.

In 1673, Father Marquette and Jolliet explored the area and claimed it for France. The Treaty of Paris 1763 ceded the land back to Spain; however, in 1800 control was returned to France until the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.

In December 1804, Dr. George Hunter and William Dunbar made an expedition to the springs, finding a lone log cabin and a few rudimentary shelters used by people visiting the springs for their healing properties. In 1807, a man named Prudhomme became the first settler of modern Hot Springs, and he was soon joined by John Perciful and Isaac Cates.

On August 24, 1818, the Quapaw Indians ceded the land around the hot springs to the United States in a treaty. After Arkansas became its own territory in 1819, the Arkansas Territorial Legislature requested in 1820 that the springs and adjoining mountains be set aside as a federal reservation. Twelve years later, in 1832, the Hot Springs Reservation was created by the US Congress, granting federal protection of the thermal waters. The Reservation was renamed Hot Springs National Park in 1921.

Civil War

The outbreak of the Civil War left Hot Springs with a declining bathing population. After the Confederate forces suffered defeat in the Battle of Pea Ridge in March 1862, the Union troops advanced toward the Confederate city of Little Rock. Confederate Governor Henry M. Rector moved his staff and state records to Hot Springs. Union forces did not attack Little Rock, and the government returned to the capital city on July 14, 1862.

Many residents of Hot Springs fled to Texas or Louisiana and remained there until the end of the war. In September 1863, Union forces occupied Little Rock. During this period, Hot Springs became the prey of guerrilla bands loosely associated with either Union or Confederate forces. They pillaged and burned the near-deserted town, leaving only a few buildings standing at the end of the Civil War.[3]


After the Civil War, an extensive rebuilding of bathhouses and hotels took place at Hot Springs. The year-round population soared to 1,200 inhabitants by 1870. By 1873 six bathhouses and 24 hotels and boardinghouses stood near the springs. In 1874, Joseph Reynolds announced his decision to construct a narrow gauge railroad from Malvern to Hot Springs; completion in 1875 resulted in the growth of visitation to the springs. Samuel W. Fordyce and two other entrepreneurs financed the construction of the first luxury hotel in the area, the first Arlington Hotel which opened in 1875.[3]

During the Reconstruction period, several conflicting land claims reached the U.S. Congress and resulted in an April 24, 1876 United States Supreme Court ruling that the land title of Hot Springs belonged to the federal government. To deal with the situation, Congress formed the Hot Springs Commission to lay out streets in the town of Hot Springs, deal with land claims, define property lines, condemn buildings illegally on the permanent reservation (now the national park) and define a process for claimants to purchase land. The commission surveyed and set aside 264.93 acres (1.0721 km2) encompassing the hot springs and Hot Springs Mountain to be a permanent government reservation. Another 1,200 acres (4.9 km2) became the Hot Springs townsite, with 700 acres (2.8 km2) awarded to claimants. The townsite consisted of 196 blocks and 50 miles (80 km) of streets and alleys. The remaining portion of the original four sections of government land consisted of hills and mountains which were mostly unoccupied, and Congress acted on the commission's recommendation in June 1880 by adding those lands to the permanent reservation.[3]

1913 fire

On September 6, 1913, a fire broke out on Church Street a few blocks southeast of Bathhouse Row, near the Army and Navy Hospital. The fire burned southeast, away from the hospital, until the wind reversed an hour later. Racing toward the business section, it destroyed the Ozark Sanitarium, and the high school on its way across Malvern Avenue. Along the way it consumed the Public Utilities plant, which destroyed the firefighter's water supply. A wide front then was blown toward Ouachita Avenue which destroyed the Garland County Court House. The Hot Springs Fire Department fought alongside the Little Rock Fire Department, which had rushed over on a special train. Despite their efforts numerous homes, at least a hundred businesses, four hotels, the Iron Mountain Railroad facilities, and the Crystal Theater were destroyed. A rainstorm finally quenched the blaze at Hazel Street. Although Central Avenue was ultimately protected (primarily by desperate use of dynamite), much of the southern part of the city was destroyed. Damage was estimated at $10,000,000 across 60 blocks.[4][5]

Gangsters and illegal gambling

Illegal gambling became firmly established in Hot Springs during the decades following the Civil War, with two factions, the Flynns and the Dorans, fighting one another throughout the 1880s for control of the town. Frank Flynn, leader of the Flynn Faction, had effectively begun paying local law enforcement officers employed by both the Hot Springs Police Department and the Garland County Sheriff's Office to collect unpaid debts, as well as to intimidate gambling rivals. This contributed to the March 16th, 1899 Hot Springs Gunfight. Of the seven Hot Springs police officers that have been killed while in service of the department, three died during that gunfight, killed by deputies of the Garland County Sheriff's Office. One part-time deputy sheriff was killed also, by the Hot Springs officers.

Along with its Bathhouse Row, one of downtown Hot Springs' most noted landmarks is the Arlington Hotel, a favored retreat for Al Capone.

Hot Springs eventually became a national gambling mecca, led by Owney Madden and his Hotel Arkansas casino. The period 1927-1947 was its wagering pinnacle, with no fewer than ten major casinos and numerous smaller houses running wide open, the largest such operation in the United States at the time. Hotels advertised the availability of prostitutes and off-track booking was available for virtually any horse race in North America.

Local law enforcement was controlled by a political machine run by long-serving mayor, Leo P. McLaughlin. The McLaughlin organization purchased hundreds of poll tax receipts, many in the names of deceased or fictitious persons, which would sometimes be voted in different precincts. A former sheriff who attempted to have the state's anti-gambling laws enforced and to secure honest elections was murdered in 1937. No one was ever charged with his killing. Machine domination of city and county government was abruptly ended in 1946 with the election of a "Government Improvement" slate of returning World War II veterans led by Marine Lt. Col. Sid McMath, who was elected prosecuting attorney. A 1947 grand jury indicted several owners and promoters, as well as McLaughlin, for public servant bribery. Although the former mayor and most of the others were acquitted, the machine's power was broken and gambling came to a halt as McMath led a statewide "GI Revolt" into the governor's office in 1948. Illegal casino gambling resumed, however, with the election of Orval Faubus as governor in 1954. Buoyed into 12 years in office by his popular defiance of federal court desegregation orders, Faubus turned a blind eye to gambling in Hot Springs. [6]

Gambling was finally closed down permanently in 1967 by two Republican officeholders, Governor Winthrop Rockefeller and Circuit Judge Henry M. Britt. Rockefeller sent in a company of state troopers to shutter the casinos and burn their gaming equipment. Oaklawn Park, a thoroughbred horse racing track south of downtown, is the only remaining gambling establishment, and one of two legal gambling establishments in the state of Arkansas. The other is the Southland Greyhound Park dog track located in West Memphis, AR.

World War II

Hot Springs Rehabilitation Center formally Army and Navy Hospital -- 2004
Hot Springs Rehabilitation Center formally Army and Navy Hospital -- 2004

The military took over the enormous Eastman Hotel across the street from the Army and Navy Hospital in 1942 because the hospital was not nearly large enough to hold the sick and wounded coming in. In 1944, the Army began redeploying returning overseas soldiers; officials inspected hotels in 20 cities before selecting Hot Springs as a redistribution center for returning soldiers. In August 1944 the Army took over most of the hotels in Hot Springs. The soldiers from the west-central states received a 21-day furlough before reporting to the redistribution station. They spent 14 days updating their military records and obtaining physical and dental treatment. The soldiers had time to enjoy the baths at a reduced rate and other recreational activities. The redistribution center closed down in December 1945 after processing more than 32,000 members of the military. In 1946, after the war, the Eastman was demolished when the federal government no longer needed it.[3]

Notable people

Hot Springs is also noted as the boyhood home of former U.S. President Bill Clinton and famed American actors Alan Ladd and Billy Bob Thornton as well as pornographic actress Gauge.

Lynn A. Davis, the temporary head of the Arkansas state police during the Winthrop Rockefeller administration, cleared Hot Springs of illegal gambling in 1967.

Metropolitan diva Marjorie Lawrence was a resident for many years. Decorated World War II combat aviators Earl T. Ricks and I.G. Brown were Hot Springs natives who served as reform mayor and sheriff, respectively (1947-1949), before resuming their Air Force careers. The town was a haven for gangsters in the 1930s, including longtime resident Owney Madden and Lucky Luciano.[6]

Hot Springs was the home of prominent Democratic attorney Q. Byrum Hurst, a member of the Arkansas State Senate from 1950-1972 and the Garland County administrative judge from 1947-1950.

Concert pianist, composer and Broadway Mary Imogene Carpenter Feldman was born in Hot Springs but moved to Chicago at the age of fourteen, after having received a scholarship to the Chicago Conservatory of Music. She later married a successful Hollywood producer.

The "Countess von Leon", the widow of Bernhard Müller, a leader of a small 19th century Utopian group, spent her last years in Hot Springs, where she died in 1881. Her work is commemorated at the Germantown Colony and Museum north of Minden, Louisiana, where she operated a religious commune from 1835-1871.[7]


Bathhouse Row, consisting of eight turn-of-the century historic buildings, lies within Hot Springs National Park and is managed by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. Two of the bathhouses remain in operation. The Buckstaff, and the Quapaw which was reopened in 2008. Another bathhouse, the Fordyce, has been converted into a museum to give tourists a glimpse into the fascinating past of the city. The federally-protected natural thermal waters are also used for thermal bathing at several downtown hotels and a hospital. The water is available free for drinking at several fountains in the downtown area.

Glass ceiling in the Fordyce Bathhouse, now the Hot Springs National Park visitor center

The city has been a tourist mecca for generations due to the thermal waters and attractions such as Oaklawn Park, a thoroughbred racing facility; Magic Springs & Crystal Falls theme parks; a fine arts community that has earned the city the No. 4 position among “America’s Top 100 Small Arts Towns”; the Hot Springs Music Festival; and the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, held each October at the historic Malco Theater, one of the top documentary festivals in the world, attracting numerous Academy Award-winning films and producers.

Hot Springs is also home to Oaklawn Park, a thoroughbred racetrack which has been in operation since 1904. The meet which is annually held from January through mid-April each year is sometimes referred to as the "Fifth Season" and features the "Racing Festival of the South" during the last week of the racing season each April. Many Triple Crown contenders compete in the Arkansas Derby, which is the big finale each year of the meet. Former U.S. President Clinton, his brother Roger, and Billy Bob Thornton, all Hot Springs natives, have been known to frequent Oaklawn Park in the past.

Other annual events in town include the free Hot Springs Jazz Festival in September,[8], the free Hot Springs Blues Festival in September, the downtown Bathtub Races in the spring, the Big Barbecue Cook off in spring and fall, the World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade every March 17, and the outdoor skating rink November through January.

Educational institutes and conventions are also important events in the spa city. Perhaps the most popular of these events is the Hot Springs Technology Institute (HSTI), drawing over 1300 participants each June. Hot Springs is also home to the annual alternate reality game Midnight Madness, based on the movie from which it gets its name. Teams race throughout the city at night, solving clues based on difficult puzzle and physical challenges. Games last 12 hours or more, with the winning team designing next year's game.


The Hot Springs newspaper is the Sentinel-Record, originally part of the Clyde E. Palmer chain, since renamed WEHCO Media.

Three AM radio stations and eight FM stations broadcast from the area. In addition, most of the Little Rock radio stations provide at least secondary coverage of the city.

Hot Springs is part of the Little Rock television market.


Aerial view of Hot Springs after 1925 along Central Avenue. The base of Hot Springs Mountain is in top right, behind Bathhouse Row. Part of West Mountain is on the left. The southwest edge of North Mountain is behind the Arlington Hotel at top.

Hot Springs is located at 34°29′50″N 93°03′19″W / 34.497138°N 93.055393°W / 34.497138; -93.055393.[9]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 33.0 square miles (85.5 km²), of which, 32.9 square miles (85.2 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) of it (0.36%) is water.


As of the census[10] of 2000, there were 35,750 people, 16,096 households, and 9,062 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,086.9 people per square mile (419.7/km²). There were 18,813 housing units at an average density of 572.0/sq mi (220.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 78.86% White, 16.87% Black or African American, 0.55% Native American, 0.79% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 1.02% from other races, and 1.86% from two or more races. 3.80% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 16,096 households out of which 22.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.2% were married couples living together, 12.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.7% are classified as non-families by the United States Census Bureau. Of 16,096 households, 690 are unmarried partner households: 580 heterosexual, 78 same-sex male, and 32 same-sex female. 38.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.12 and the average family size was 2.80.

In the city the population was spread out with 20.2% under the age of 18, 8.2% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 23.0% from 45 to 64, and 23.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 88.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,040, and the median income for a family was $32,819. Males had a median income of $25,861 versus $20,155 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,961. About 13.7% of families and 19.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.7% of those under age 18 and 11.7% of those age 65 or over.

Historical figures[11]
Year Population Year Population
1900 10,000 1950 29,300
1906/07 11,200 1960 29,200
1910 14,400 1970 35,600
1916/17 17,200 1980 26,800
1920 11,700 1990 33,100
1930 20,200 2000 35,750
1940 21,400



Hot Springs is served by Hot Springs Memorial Field Airport.


Advanced residential statewide high school

Private schools

  • Hot Springs Christian School, K-12 [1]
  • St. John Elementary School, K-8
  • St. Luke's Day School, PK-2
  • Lighthouse Christian School, K-12
  • Gospel Light Baptist School, PK-12
  • Hot Springs SDA School, PK-9

Public schools

  • Cutter-Morning Star Elementary School, PK-6
  • Cutter-Morning Star High School, 7-12
  • Fountain Lake Elementary School, K-6
  • Fountain Lake High School, 7-12
  • Gardner Magnet School, K-5
  • Hot Springs Middle School, 6-8
  • Hot Springs High School, 9-12
  • Jessieville Elementary School, PK-5
  • Jessieville Middle School, 6-8
  • Jessieville High School, 9-12
  • Langston Magnet School, PK-5
  • Lakeside Primary School, K-1
  • Lakeside Intermediate School, 2-4
  • Lakeside Middle School, 5-7
  • Lakeside Junior High School, 8-9
  • Lakeside High School, 10-12
  • Lake Hamilton Primary School, K-1
  • Lake Hamilton Elementary School, 2-3
  • Lake Hamilton Intermediate School, 4-5
  • Lake Hamilton Middle School, 6-7
  • Lake Hamilton Junior High, 8-9
  • Lake Hamilton High School, 10-12
  • Oaklawn Magnet School, K-5
  • Park Magnet School, K-5

Higher education

Other Education

Sister Cities

Points of interest

Skateboarding Incident

On June 21, 2007, Officer Joey Williams of the Hot Springs, Arkansas police department arrested 6 skaters for violating the city's no skating law. The skaters also committed violations which included fleeing, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, disorderly conduct and battery. This was posted on Youtube, and the video received over 2.9 million views.[12] The arrested skateboarders were charged with a variety of crimes. The two adult skaters did not deny the charges against them.[13][14][15] Two young men later pleaded no contest to their misdemeanor charges.[16][17]


  1. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  2. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in Arkansas, April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2008" (CSV). 2008 Population Estimates. U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division. July 1, 2009. Retrieved October 20, 2009.  
  3. ^ a b c d Paige, John C; Laura Woulliere Harrison (1987) (PDF). Out of the Vapors: A Social and Architectural History of Bathouse Row, Hot Springs National Park. U.S. Department of the Interior.  
  4. ^ "Hot Springs Again Hit by Fire". The Arkansas News. Old State House Museum. 1984 Fall. Retrieved 2008-03-30.  
  5. ^ "$6,000,000 DAMAGE IN HOT SPRINGS FIRE; Thirty Blocks of Arkansas Resort Swept Away Within a Few Hours.". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). 1913-09-06. Retrieved 2008-03-30.  
  6. ^ a b "The Five Families". MacMillan. Retrieved 2008-06-22.  
  7. ^ David James, III, "Germantown: Once Thriving and Socialistic", Minden Press, July 7, 1958, pp. 1-2
  8. ^ Hot Springs Jazz Fest 2008 - Welcome
  9. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  10. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  11. ^
  12. ^ YouTube - go skateboarding day: cop v.s. skaters
  13. ^ Arkansas cop cleared of choking skateboarder | Thrasher Magazine | Find Articles at BNET
  14. ^ "Hot Springs officer put on leave as investigation opens into skateboarder video". Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc.. 2007-06-26. Retrieved 2008-07-14.  
  15. ^ GAMBRELL, JON (2007-07-03). "Police Officer Cleared in Skateboard Choking Case". WPVI TV Philadelphia. Retrieved 2008-07-14.  
  16. ^ "Two plead no contest in videotaped Hot Springs skateboa". Newport Television LLC. 2007-08-16. Retrieved 2008-07-14.  
  17. ^ "2 Ark. skateboarders plead no contest". USA Today. 2007-08-16. Retrieved 2008-07-14.  

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

HOT SPRINGS, a city of Arkansas, U.S.A., the county-seat of Garland county, at the easterly base of the Ozark mountains, 55 m. by rail W.S.W. of Little Rock. Pop. (1880) 3554; (1890) 8086; (1900) 9973, of whom 3102 were of negro descent and 561 were foreign-born; (1906, estimate) 11,157. The transient population numbers more than 100,000 annually. Hot Springs is served by the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, the Little Rock & Hot Springs Western, and the St Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern railways. The city lies partly in several mountain ravines and partly on a plateau. A creek, flowing through the valley but walled over, empties into the Ouachita river several miles from Hot Springs. The elevation of the surrounding hills is about 1200 ft. above the sea and 600 above the surrounding country. The scenery is beautiful, and there is a remarkable view from a steel tower observatory, 150 ft. high, on the top of Hot Springs mountain. The climate is delightful. The average rainfall for the year is about 55 in. The springs are about forty-four in number, rising within an area of 3 acres on the slope of Hot Springs mountain. They are all included within a reservation held by the United States government, which (since 1903) exercises complete jurisdiction. The daily flow from the springs used is more than 800,000 gallons. Their temperature varies from 95° to 147° F. The waters are tasteless and inodorous, and contain calcium and magnesium bicarbonates, combinations of hydrogen and silicon, and of iodides, bromides and lithium. The national government maintains at Hot Springs an army and navy hospital, and a bath-house open gratuitously to indigent bathers. The business of Hot Springs consists mainly in caring for its visitors. Fruit-raising and small gardening characterize its environs. There are sulphur, lithia and other springs near the city, and an ostrich farm and an alligator farm in the suburbs. The finest of the novaculite rocks of central Arkansas are quarried near the city. The total value of its factory product in 1905 was $597,029, an increase of 213.1% since 1900.

The Springs were first used by the itinerant trappers. They were visited about 1800 by French hunters; and by members of the Lewis and Clark party in 1804 under instructions from President Thomas Jefferson. The permanent occupation of the town site dates only from 1828, though as early as 1807 a temporary settlement was made. In 1876 Hot Springs was incorporated as a town, and in 1879 it was chartered as a city. In 1832 Congress created a reservation, but the right of the government as against private claimants was definitely settled only in 1876, by a decision of the United States Supreme Court. The city was almost destroyed by fire in 1878, and was greatly improved in the rebuilding.

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