Day 26: August 19, 2012
All Hot Springs
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These three buildings and several much like them are part of a national park. It took me awhile to get my head around that. A ranger told me that, Yellowstone may be the first nation park but this is the oldest. That statement is based on the fact that this area was the first ever set aside by the US government to protect natural resources. That was in 1832. Yellowstone became the first national park in 1872; Hot Springs, Arkansas, became the eighteenth in 1921. The government did operate one free bathhouse but most of the elegant Bathhouse Row were privately operated under some sort of agreement with the government. Only one traditional bathhouse still operates here. Buckstaff, the one with the blue awnings, has been in continuous operation since 1912. Fordyce Bathhouse, in the third picture, is now the Park Visitor Center and open for touring as seen in the next panel.

We start off in the women's section which had some nice stained glass windows and a steam cabinet along with the basic soaking tubs. The third picture was taken in the "Hydrotherapy" room and no, I don't know what they did there. The remaining pictures are of the men's section. Since more men than women used the baths, it makes sense that the men had more steam cabinets and more complex plumbing. They also had one more statue than the women and their stained glass was a little fancier.

A walkway next to the Fordyce/Visitor Center leads to some open springs and steps going up to the Grand Promenade. The Promenade provides a tower level view of the 1925 Arlington Hotel and a look from the top of the hot water cascade. Fencing for a construction project prevents getting close to the bottom end of the cascade but it can still be seen at street level. So can the hotel. The street is the park boundary so the Arlington and other businesses on that side of the street are outside the park.

Away from Bathhouse Row and downtown Hot Springs, there are camp grounds and hiking trails that make the place seem quite a bit more park like. I didn't camp or hike but I did travel one of the scenic drives and I did look up at the 216 foot Hot Springs Mountain Tower.

Nothing exciting happened between Hot Springs and Little Rock and east of there, not only did nothing exciting happen, I have driven this bit of US-70 before. The result is that, as far as the journal is concerned, this was an all Hot Springs day.

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