Located deep in the Ozark Mountains, Eureka Springs is the perfect weekend getaway for couples or families. Eureka Springs is our go to vacation when all we want to do is soak in the atmosphere and relax. As a matter of fact, my husband and I were married at a lovely bed and breakfast here in 2015. There are many great places to stay and lots of things to do in this small historic town.
HISTORICAL EUREKA SPRINGS
Eureka Springs was founded on July 4th, 1879. The many natural springs found throughout the area brought people from all over the country to try the healing waters. By the end of the first year as a town the population had reached 10,000.
It is reputed that Dr. Alvah Jackson was the first white settler to realize the healing properties of the water when it cured his son of an eye ailment in 1856. Later, during the Civil War, Dr. Jackson set up a hospital in a local cave to help care for the wounded.
When his friend, Judge J.B. Saunders, took the water in 1879 to help him with a crippling disease and was cured, he became Eureka Springs biggest vocal supporter. Relating to everyone he knew of the amazing, healing powers of the water of the Ozark town.
EUREKA SPRINGS UNDERGROUND TUNNELS
This quaint little town boasts a big secret. Eureka Springs has a hidden town beneath it’s streets that can be viewed through the grates on the sidewalks. There is also a great walking tour of the underground tunnels that shares the town’s history.
Why is there an underground city, you might ask? The simple answer is because of the water. Eureka Springs was built on the foundation of the healing water in the area, unfortunately, water is also the reason for destruction in the town.
In the late 1880s, runoff was a major problem in downtown Eureka Springs. When the spring-fed waters of Leatherwood Creek would overflow it would flood main street causing major problems. Due to these problems, in the 1890s the town underwent improvements to help keep downtown safe.
The town built limestone walls and raised the street by one story level. So the front doors of the shops are actually installed on the second story of the buildings. One of the places I love to eat is called the Mud Street Café. This café is located downstairs, on the original level of the city street.
HISTORICAL PLACES TO STAY
Built in 1886, the Crescent Hotel was considered the most luxurious hotel in America at the time. Though it catered to the wealthy and was very popular, the large hotel quickly became run down and unmanageable and closed it’s doors. In 1908, it became known as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women, but closed 16 years after it opened.
Norman Baker then bought the Crescent in 1937 and turned it into a hospital and health resort. Unfortunately, “Dr.” Baker did not have any medical training, and his advertising a cancer miracle cure earned him a 4 year prison sentence.
The Crescent is known for it’s paranormal encounters and even hosts a nightly paranormal tour. It was even featured on two popular ghost hunting shows; Ghost Hunters in 2007 and Ghost Adventures in 2019.
Built in 1905, the Basin Park Hotel was considered the sister hotel of the Crescent. This hotel also boasts the otherworldly as frequent guests and hosts a paranormal tour.
The original hotel built in this space was the Perry Hotel, built by Captain Joseph Perry in 1881, who enjoyed taking the healing waters at the spring located there.
The Perry Hotel was a first class hotel with elevator and running water in each of the 60 rooms. Unfortunately, the fate of the Perry Hotel was linked with that of the Grand Central Hotel, and was destroyed by fire.
My husband and I had the pleasure of staying at this hotel a few years ago, and I admit my writer’s mind got carried away with me. The first night I did not sleep at all but stayed up listening to all the strange noises in the hotel. It was a grand adventure.
In 1880, the grand Central Hotel was built and used as a stagecoach stop for those coming to take the waters at Eureka Springs. The hotel would see upwards of 100 people come through its door a day in those early days of the town.
Unfortunately, the Grand Hotel was destroyed by one of the four large fires that swept through the town. Learning from the mistake of building with wood, the hotel was quickly rebuilt with bricks to be more fire resistant. It was built at a grander scale to appeal more to their eastern guest. Today, you can still stay here, come by and eat in the restaurant, or have a wedding in it’s beautiful Grand Hall.
THINGS TO DO IN EUREKA SPRINGS
Click here for a current calendar of events for Eureka Springs. There are so many things to do in this little Victorian town.
PLACE OF INTEREST
Thorncrown Chapel Belle of the Ozarks
Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge Onyx Cave
The Christ of the Ozarks Basin Spring Park
Pivot Rock and Natural Bridge Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railway