A Little Journey to The Maurice Baths
Booklet and pictures courtesy of
Dick Blacher. Comments by Paul Jackson.
A Little Journey to the Maurice Baths
By Elbert Hubbard, 1915
This booklet measures 8" x 6" The
Maurice Baths and Therapeutic Pool is located in Hot Springs National Park in
Arkansas. Fabulists once tied
Hot Springs into the whole Fountain of Youth mythology because Spanish
explorers, including Hernando DeSoto, passed through the region in the 16th
Century. The federal government saw some value in the hot springs as early as
1803, when the territory became part of the Louisiana Purchase. This is the
oldest park in the national park system. In 1832, it became the Hot Springs
Reservation and there was not even an Interior Department at that time. The
Interior Department came along in 1849. Unfortunately for Hot Springs boosters,
Yellowstone usually gets credit for being the first official national park, due
to a string of technicalities, including the fact that Hot Springs Reservation
wasn't named "national park" until 1921.
For several years after the government designated the hot springs area as a reservation, it neglected to define definite boundaries. In the mid-1800s, the feds began exerting more control over the reservation, after bathhouses began to spring up and their owners feuded over land claims and property rights. The first structures were crude, wooden spas, subject to fires and rot. Hot Springs Creek ran through the middle of town, collecting hot spring runoff, occasionally flooding or forming stagnant puddles. In 1884, the government covered the creek and laid a road over it. The baths that existed at Hot Springs National Park were:
The Lamar, the Ozark, the Quapaw, the Fordyce, the Maurice, the Hale and the Superior.
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