Thursday, January 31, 2008
Hot Springs - A Civil War Landmark
Steam can be seen rising in the background of this winter photograph of Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. Just as the natural hot springs flowing from the Ouachita Mountains continue to amaze visitors today, they also attracted the attention of soldiers during the Civil War.
The springs were already well known then and owned by the U.S. Government, which had secured the "Hot Springs of the Ouachita" as the nation's first national ecological preserve. Early settlers and visitors believed the water held curative properties of benefit to individuals suffering from a variety of afflictions, and a small industry catering to visitors had grown in the area of the springs long before the war.
The outbreak of conflict, of course, interrupted the use of the springs, but also exposed the natural wonder to thousands of new visitors - the troops of both sides who marched back and forth through the Hot Springs Valley during the Civil War.
Thousands of troops en route from Fort Smith to participate in the Red River Campaign marched past the springs early in 1864 and comments appeared in letters and diaries written at the time expressing wonder and amazement at the springs.
Hot Springs National Park is today one of the most unique attractions in Arkansas. To learn more, visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com and scroll down to the Arkansas heading in the Index section.