Americans back in the 1800s believed that fresh, pure mineral spring water had the power to “cure what ails you.” People with health complaints ranging from sinus problems to arthritis traveled long distances to “take the waters” and recover their health.
They, along with modern-day advocates, share the ancient belief that natural springs can help medical conditions. The Romans took the spa concept to a whole new level, dedicating large building complexes to interconnected bathing chambers.
Regarding how long people have enjoyed soaking, splashing, drinking, and generally fooling around in natural springs, the Hot Springs Guest Guide reveals an astonishing fact about the hot springs of Arkansas.
“While no one knows when the first human visitors came to what is now Hot Springs, authorities believe Native Americans were using the springs as a gathering spot as long as 10,000 years ago.”
Because of this historical mystique, towns in the young United States lucky enough to have a natural spring nearby cultivated a thriving tourist trade. Springs became spas with fancy European brickwork and always-on spring water fountains in a central square.
The term spa comes from an actual town in Belgium – Spa – which thrived in the 1600s:
Zealous architects built Greek temples with impressive colonnades, fanciful gazebos, or Japanese pagoda temples to entice patronage.
In those days, before automobiles and buses, transportation to spa towns was principally by horsepower or train. Railroads were built to access spring towns. The Malvern Roundhouse Hot Springs Railroad in Arkansas is a prime example of this, according to historian Bill Pollard:
“Construction of the Hot Springs [Arkansas] Railroad began in Malvern in April 1875, and trains began operating into Hot Springs one year later.”
The chemical composition of a spring’s water determines how it is classified, according to Widipedia:
– Lithia springs contained lithium salts
– Chalybeate springs contained salts of iron
– Alum springs contained alum
– Sulfur springs contained hydrogen sulfide gas (see also fumeroles)
– Salt (saline) springs contained salts of calcium, magnesium or sodium
– Alkaline springs contained an alkali
– Calcic springs contained lime (calcium hydroxide)
– Thermal (hot) springs could contain a high concentration of various minerals
– Soda springs contained carbon dioxide gas (soda water)
In addition to being soothing and relaxing, springs are known for the health benefits imparted by all those earthy minerals. Blood circulation improves, and you will sleep easily after a nice hot soak. Stress drips away, and many people report feeling less pain, even those suffering from fibromyalgia fatigue.
In the United States, if a town’s name includes the word “Spring,” there is a good chance that a natural spring was found there.
For a list of affordable retreats visit this GoBankingRates website.
Now that you know all about natural springs, the next time somebody advises you to go soak your head, simply smile and reply, “Thank you, I think I will!” (Just be sure the rest of you follows along.)