Did you know that the town of Eureka Springs is listed on the National Register of Historic Places? The town was founded back in July of 1879 and was known for the legend of its great healing spring. Visitors would flock to the area to experience the healing waters of the Basin Spring. Because the word spread so quickly of the springs healing powers, Eureka Springs became Arkansas 4th largest city by the end of 1881. Eureka Springs history lives on today in the downtown Historic District. This area serves as a main draw to the town with its many restaurants, art galleries and beautiful Victorian architecture.
Basin Spring’s healing powers were the start of the history that began in this region. The Sioux Indians brought the daughter of a great Chieftan to the springs to heal an eye infection that had affected her sight. Shortly after bathing her eyes in the spring water, her sight was restored. Dr. Alvah Jackson who is said to be the first white settler to discover the springs also used the water to cure his son’s eye ailment. Dr. Jackson used the healing waters to care for ailing patients from the Civil War and later sold the water calling it Dr. Jackson’s Eye Water.
Because of the town’s growing population, The Eureka Springs Improvement Company was formed in 1882. This group brought in the railroad and other amenities including the electric trolley and the Crescent Hotel. About 2,000 of the structures that were brought in are still around and can be visited today. The town of Eureka Springs has been very well preserved over the years. Eureka Springs has been recognized as one of the 12 distinctive destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
To learn more about the history of this incredible town, there are two walking tours held daily downtown. These tours talk about the people who have been a part of the town’s history over the years, discuss the architecture of the buildings in the area and also take you to the three undergrounds in Eureka Springs. To purchase tickets for the tours, click here.
Another great way to learn more about the town is to visit the Eureka Springs Historical Museum located on South Main Street. The Museum preserves and protects the history of the town. There are many permanent and rotating exhibits to be seen when visiting and touring the Museum. The Eureka Springs Historical Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30am to 4:00pm and then Sundays from 11:00am to 4:00pm.
The historic district is home to five historic hotels and 100 restored mansions that have been turned into bed and breakfasts inns. Arsenic and Old Lace is a Queen Anne Victorian style bed and breakfast offering five guest suites each complete with private bathroom. The wrap around porch is ideal for enjoying quiet time with a cup of coffee or glass of wine. A gourmet breakfast is served each morning complete with fresh baked breads, a sweet or savory main course, a side dish and is accompanied with juices and coffee. Arsenic and Old Lace is located just two blocks from the Historic District meaning all the tours and happenings of the downtown area are within walking distance. Besides being pet friendly, this bed and breakfast makes a great getaway for family reunions or small wedding parties.
Photo courtesy of Celeste Lindell