THE GREAT­EST RE­SORT

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - Culture -

The “Great­est Health and Plea­sure Re­sort in the World” — Charles Cut­ter dubbed Hot Springs in his 1891 Hot Springs Il­lus­trated Jour­nal.

The New Yorker had come here in 1874 to find bet­ter health. He found that thanks to the ther­mal waters and also found his life’s mis­sion—tout­ing the health ben­e­fits of the hot springs. His long­est last­ing pub­li­ca­tion was Cut­ter’s Guide to the Hot Springs of Arkansas, an an­nual book­let which told the story of the ther­mal wa­ter for over fifty years. This mar­ke­teer­ing tool did more to pro­mote the suc­cess of the ther­mal baths than any other for­mat of the day.

How healthy was Hot Springs? Cut­ter said that in 1891 Hot Springs had the low­est death rate of fifty ma­jor Amer­i­can cities and a world-wide rep­u­ta­tion for “cur­ing dis­eases of­ten con­sid­ered in­cur­able.”

He praised the cli­mate: “No sul­try nights at Hot

Springs. Blan­kets in de­mand be­fore morn­ing.” (This may seem sur­pris­ing to res­i­dents to­day, but he cites 1891 Army and Navy Hos­pi­tal records of a July mean tem­per­a­ture of 85 and an Au­gust one of 82.)

He called for all to come: “Old peo­ple and busi­ness men who are over­worked should visit Hot Springs an­nu­ally and take one or two cour­ses of baths. By so do­ing they will surely pro­long their lives and be more com­fort­able while they do live.” He did not over­look “lady visi­tors,” whom he said, “… are in­creas­ing ev­ery year and now av­er­age about one-third the num­ber of our an­nual visi­tors. Those who feel the heavy hand of time be­ing placed upon them and their look­ing-glass re­veal­ing wrin­kles can, by bathing in and drink­ing of th­ese waters, so im­prove their com­plex­ion as to ap­pear years younger than their ac­tual age.”

Cut­ter ex­tolled the ho­tels, par­tic­u­larly the East­man Ho­tel – the largest ho­tel in the South – which opened in 1890 with “su­perbly fur­nished guest rooms and the largest din­ing room and kitchen we known of in the United States. It em­ploys its own band, which give two or three con­certs daily.” He also praised the Park Ho­tel, sited in a beau­ti­ful park of eight acres with a sep­a­rate danc­ing pavil­ion and bowl­ing al­ley.

But his high­est praise went to the bath­houses and the ef­fects of the ther­mal wa­ter. He de­scribed the bath­houses as hav­ing “no su­pe­rior in the world, cost­ing small for­tunes to build and fur­nish. They have all the lat­est ap­pli­ances and im­prove­ments.”

He claimed that within “the last twenty-five years over 100,000 peo­ple have been cured of dis­eases that the most skill­ful physi­cians of our land con­sid­ered past re­cov­ery.” He es­pe­cially ad­vised those with rheuma­tism to come here: “We have known crutches to be aban­doned af­ter the first bath.”

Cut­ter gave lit­tle sci­en­tific proof of his claims, but 6,000 visi­tors came to our city of 12,000 in 1891, and the num­bers of per­ma­nent res­i­dents and visi­tors con­tin­ued to grow. That growth was fu­eled by the be­lief ex­pressed by Cut­ter and shared by many: “No where else are so many cures ef­fected with­out the use of medicine, and at no other health re­sort do so many gather to­gether for recre­ation, rest, and plea­sure.”

Ar­senic Spring

Charles Cut­ter

Mau­rice Bath­house

New Rec­tor Bath­house

Opera House

East­man Ho­tel

Ram­mels­berg Bath­house

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