Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Painting the town light orange...

We had a big breakfast here at Casa De Dust, and then we headed out To Hot Springs.

The area now known as "Hot Springs National Park" first became United States territory in 1803 as part of the Louisiana Purchase. The first permanent settlers to reach the Hot Springs area in 1807 were quick to realize the springs' potential as a health resort. By the 1830s, log cabins and a store had been built to meet the needs (albeit in a rudimentary way) of visitors to the springs.

To protect this unique national resource and preserve it for the use of the public, the Arkansas Territorial Legislature requested in 1820 that the springs and adjoining mountains be set aside as a federal reservation (not to be confused with the Indian reservations being established around the same time). On April 20, 1832, President Andrew Jackson signed legislation to set aside "...four sections of land including said (hot) springs, reserved for the future disposal of the United States (which) shall not be entered, located, or appropriated, for any other purpose whatsoever." This makes Hot Springs National Park the oldest national park among current N. P. S. Parks, predating Yellowstone National Park by forty years.

So I gave "Granny" the fast tour. Yes folks that is right, "The Collective" have taken to calling Grandmother, "Granny". The good news is, "Granny" does not seem to mind one bit. So. I gave Granny, the fast tour. Hot Springs "gambling" and "gangster" history.

The most famous visitor down through the ages was probably Al Capone. During the Prohibition Era, Capone came from Chicago to strike deals with bootleggers in Hot Springs to stock his clubs in Chicago with alcohol. Hot Springs was a remote town located in the middle of the Ouachita mountains, and the forest provided "cover" for the moonshine stills year round. Capone would ship his bootleg liquor in railroad cars, and for protection, he had the words "Mountain Valley Water" painted on the side of the railcars.

In Chicago, Detroit, New York - when the FBI and police were after criminals because of a robbery or murder, the gangsters knew where to come to relax in safety. Hot Springs was a sanctuary from both prosecution and enemies. Gangsters could enjoy the entertainment of gambling, and be pampered with the hot mineral baths and massages.

Hot Springs, also has quite a history of prostitution, of which I haven't read much about. However, upon moving to Arkansas about 5 years ago, I had read Stephen Hunters book Hot Springs, and was introduced to the topic.

The history of Hot Springs acknowledges Maxine Temple Jones as the Brothel Queen. She was once touted as the richest madam in Arkansas, grossing $5,000 per night. From 1945 through 1962, Maxine hosted high-rollers from Dallas, Chicago, and Little Rock. In her book, Call Me Madam, Jones recalls that period of time, known as the Spa's hey-day, as being all about "gambling, girls, and whiskey."

I took a few photos, we had Ecuadorianan food for lunch, it was delicious. Mortomorrowow.

"Granny" leaves in the morning, and I will be sad. We all miss her SOOOO, Dash and Pink Ninja, are going to have to rough itomorrowow.



Anonymous said...

Next Time You are in town, try Burgers And More for the best durn lunches

Anonymous said...

Yipeee! Sounds like fun!