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!!