Saturday, November 08, 2008

Hot Water

A fountain- statue of Hernando DeSoto being given hot spring water by a Caddo indian maiden. This is in the mens' bath hall at the Fordyce Bathhouse in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
I suspect that this engagement didn't actually happen since, when DeSoto and his band of 600 Spanish invaders sailed north into what is now Tampa Bay, Florida in 1541 and wandered the now southeast US seeking gold and riches, a previous Spanish explorer called Narvaez had already made a bad impression on the natives with his violent dealings with them. In fact there were many bad experiences with the natives, not unexpected since DeSoto set out apparently ready for trouble ; their stores included "chains for captives, and bloodhounds as auxiliaries against the natives". Look for trouble and you may find it, I always say. DeSoto died of malignant fever at age 46 on this trip; he was secretely buried in the Mississippi River because the natives regarded him as possessing supernatural powers and his death would have given them more power over their invaders. His wife died in Havana three days after hearing. His explorations did take him through what is now the hot springs area in central Arkansas however; probably wasn't greeted with hot water from a maiden though.
This stained-glass window is above the sculpture and depicts Neptune's Daughter and an unnamed fellow swimming about.
This bath house was built about 1915 by Sam Fordyce for about $213,000. The floors are all tiled as are many of the walls and bath areas. It is one of eight bathhouses still existing, only two of which are available for bathing.
This was quite the place to go back in the twenties with many doctors prescribing the hot baths and steam rooms for patient maladies. (Al Capone was a visitor and reserved the entire fourth floor of the Arlington Hotel when he came.)
Good luck getting your health insurance to cover that procedure now!!


  1. One's insurance is more than happy to cover drugs that have tons of side effects and a person can become addicted to (not saying that in some cases the drugs aren't absolutely necessary) but as far as treatments such as chiropractic, forget it. I haven't been able to afford to see a chiropractor in months and I have sciatica, but the insurance a) will only cover a few sessions except in the case of b) it's a pre-existing condition.
    Soaking in a warm hot springs sounds great. It's sad to say how many years it's been since I did such a thing.

  2. I wish my doctor would send me here! The stain glass above is gorgeous. It kind of reminds me of Julia Morgan's swimming pools. I just found a book today about reflexology and I'm trying to explore some natural healing techniques. Take care and enjoy the autumn.

  3. Yeah, that would be a beauty! And all I'd like is the ceiling painted in my bathroom!

    (I do have a regular bath tub with 6 jets in it...does that count?!! I love it.)

  4. I have just visited your blog and read some of your posts. I like the neat narration you can do.

    If you are interested in short stories and paintings, a flying visit to my blogs would be a good idea.

    Naval Langa

  5. It does sound invigorating.. and I hope it works.. all the best.

    the story of Fordyce along with the lovely pictures.. made an interesting read..

  6. To Mrs. Goatman

    You are heartily welcome to my blog-space. I would be a regular visitor to you blogs, as I like your style of writing.

    Do visit my paintings blogs, too. You would like it.

    Naval Langa

  7. we actually have a few hot baths in slovenia and some are even covered by health insurance for certain conditions but we have no legends about invaders and maidens :)

  8. Visions of sweaty blokes all trying to fit into one bath lol....

    I LOVE the photos and the history behind it all.... the stains glass is just gorgeous......

    Hope your well goatman :)


  9. Very interesting story
    and great both pics.

    Have a nice weekend!

  10. Not impressed with the statue but the stain glass is completely awesome. I could sleep with that above me every night.

  11. Interesting read. Lovely photographs.

  12. Very interesting and educative, indeed. I didn't have a clue about this, and absolutely not that it still where there to ponder over.
    Thanks 4 sharing this!

  13. that window is lovely
    very art nouveau-ish

    my nan sometimes used to put mustard in our baths or into a foot-bath if we'd been out in the rain and got cold.

  14. I'd love for your blog to be a part of our blog-to-film competition, All you do is link your blog to the site for free to have a chance to win $2,000 and make movie history!


  15. Its amazing story to share with us..history in fact..

    Thanks for your visit in my blog..the wedding bells are now decorated in my house so to speak .. seems funny ..that this is me who is going through it


  16. my apologies for doing only a quick 'breeze through' - i am in the midst of packing house and moving (finally). I love the poem below. You should feel quite flattered - until I reached the end, I truly thought it was written by you. See? yes, this type of work is in you. I must scroll through your archives to find your poetry. But I recently read, the best way to write poetry is to continually read poetry. no truer words, i think.

    hot springs ... i grew up quite close to Warm Springs Georgia where Pres. Roosevelt often came to 'take the waters' for his polio .... I agree with the princess - the stained glass is gorgeous!


  17. i liked the stained glass window...but the concept of public hot baths is not so appealing to me...i mean who's gonna share a bath with a stranger..not me!!!

  18. Shooting Star,
    Remember, these bathhouses were built in around 1915, were completely segregated as to gender then and are still separated now. The actual baths are many individual tubs with walls around each, drained and filled with hot water by a person of the same sex when a new person arrives for a bath. You are wrapped in sheets almost continually while moving around, if you desire. After about 20 minutes in the spa bath (moving water)you are guided to a one-person steam room or sauna for another 10 or 15 minutes. This time can vary at your discression. Then, wrapped in your sheet, you are guided to a bench in an open area while hot towels are placed on and under you with particular attention (more hot towels) paid to areas you identify as being sore or needing relaxation -- I usually choose my neck and lower back. You lie wrapped like a tamale, while they bring cool rags for your forehead and face, for about 20 more minutes. Then a shower with tiny jets from every direction, dry off, and go to a cooling room still in your sheet to lie beneath the ceiling fans and relax before dressing and finding a cold beer at a nearby tavern to complete the process. The beer is optional, but recommended.

    It is all very proper and meets all health codes and rules.
    Of course, on the mens' side, some naked prancing about takes place--because that's how some men are!!

  19. We went to a place in Washington...I forget the name of it...but it was very old. Each person had one of those old claw-footed tubs. After soaking, they gave us these sheets and off we went for a wonderful massage.

    Ainesworth Hot Springs near Nelson in BC counts as my favourite. You go deep inside a Cave to the source, it felt like it must feel in the womb!

    Super post!

  20. Hi Goatman,
    I came back to see your latest. What.. no latest.... so few days of Autumn left...

  21. Dropping by to wish for you a good new year and a "big Change" for all of us in this year..more a coming together as "one" instead of the selfish modes we've found ourselves in so much in the last few years.

    Hope to see a new post soon..maybe it's about time?..:o)