Probing Hot Springs

We rounded the corner and stood face-to-face with a large box containing several firehose-like nozzles protruding from one side, and a bevy of levers, knobs, pedals, valves, gauges and dials on the other. The whole room was tiled and waterproofed, so obviously the idea was to soak down the patient until whatever afflicted them drowned — or begged for mercy. Hey, we’d be begging as soon as Igor… CONTINUE READING >>

The
“healing waters” of Hot Springs, Arkansas have
been attracting the ailing and agile alike for centuries.
And Veronica was one of them,
chomping at the bit for a bit of pampering, a massage
and an inside look at one of the world-famous bathhouses.
But first, a stop at one of those cheesy tourist diversions we’re
so fond of.

Hot
Springs is not exactly the big city, but I wouldn’t call
it tiny either. It is however, home to Tiny Town. More than
just a town, Tiny Town is its own little world, all made
out of cast off scraps, odds and ends, whatchamacallits
and whatnot gathered by
Frank Moshinskie over decades, then recycled into a wondrous miniature
landscape. Frank began building the scenes as a teenager and never
stopped.

Tucked away
in an old residential corner of Hot Springs, we found Tiny Town
well off the beaten path. Since Frank has passed on to his reward
— to the not-so-tiny town in the sky — the presentation is
carried on by his son and daughter-in-law, Charles and Barbara
Moshinskie. Barbara was there to greet us and promptly began
the story of how the collection grew and took on a life of its
own.

Everything
from old west storefronts to modern airports come to life
as the scenes are animated with elaborate systems of cables
and pulleys. Frank connected the conglomeration to discarded
motors from junked washing machines,
old barbeque rotisseries, defunct record players — anything he
could get his hands on.

Through
the years he recreated

his family and friends — and celebrities
— to populate his little world. We had to look close, but sure
enough, there were Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson walking along
with Mr. T. Now that’s not something we see everyday!

As
we made our way around the display, Barbara pointed out
the highlights. She kindly included us in the show, “Push
that button in front of you.” We did, and a part of
the town sprang into motion. Push another and
trains begin to roll. Hey, who doesn’t like that?

Hog heaven,
I’d say. Veronica practically had to pry me away

from playing
master-of-all-I-surveyed. Starting and stopping the Ferris Wheel,
the guy chopping wood, an airplane, cars, dogs barking — yes–
I was controlling anything that moved. I could turn on lights
in the houses and buildings — even in an outhouse — there
was no stopping me.

Barbara
didn’t mind, she’d seen it all before. Everyone, regardless
of age, is transformed into a kid at Tiny Town. I think Frank
would be happy.

Once my
fingers began to ache, I started to snap out of the trance.
Veronica, still bit-chomping, was ready for some bathhouse babying.
She had a point — I pried my trigger finger away to go check
out the springs, since they are the whole reason Hot Springs
exists.

Humans
have been taking in the waters of Hot Springs for their
healing powers as far back as history can record. Long before
Hernando de Soto came along to claim the area for Spain,
the Quapaw, Caddo, Cherokee, Choctaw, and many other tribes
enjoyed these springs. Native
Americans called this The Valley of the Vapors and hostilities
were left aside while partaking of the 140-plus degree healing
waters.

Later,
bathhouses were built over the springs, drawing folks from
far and wide to partake in the perceived curative properties
of the waters. And still they come, drinking and/or bathing
to cure what ails them.

By 1832 the
springs were so popular that the federal government decided to
declare the area a protected reservation, making it the oldest
federal reserve in the nation. Later it

became a National Park.
Through the years an array of grand bathhouses developed into
the famed Bathhouse Row that is now a part of the park.

These stately
spas are preserved in fine detail and several are still in operation,
so we certainly had to check out the inside of one. The Fordyce
Bathhouse now serves as the National Park Visitors Center, so
it was the obvious choice. We wandered in, were handed a map
and shown the way for the self-guided tour.

Rambling
around, we gawked at the stunning stained glass ceiling
of the Roman style men’s baths, sat in the locker
rooms, checked out the old tubs and steam boxes, and generally
enjoyed a glimpse into a bygone era.

Then we went upstairs.

Things changed.

At
some point along the way, someone decided that the water
alone wasn’t good enough. Nope, tools — really scary tools
— were necessary to supplement the healing powers of the hot springs.
We had stumbled upon what looked like a Frankenstein movie torture
chamber.

Mortified
by the collection, we still had to look. Good God, that one
has an electric plug! I don’t even want to think what a long
glass tube with a 120 volt plug out the back could be used for.
I actually started getting a queasy feeling deep in my innards.
Things were skrintching up a good bit. Orifices were tightening
in a precautionary manner, with the hope of preventing any unwanted
insertions.

I moved
ahead while Veronica stood frozen in either shock or wonder.
She had to be scared, but what I found in the Women’s Hydrotherapy
Room wasn’t going to reduce her fears any. It looked like it
should be on top of a fire engine.

She
rounded the corner and stood face-to-face with a large box
containing several firehose-like nozzles protruding from
one side, and a
bevy of levers, knobs, pedals, valves, gauges and dials on the
other. The whole room was tiled and waterproofed, so obviously
the idea was

to soak down the patient until whatever afflicted
them drowned — or begged for mercy. Hey, I’d be begging as soon
as Igor touched that first knob.

If
this was the stuff they showed the public, I’d hate to think
what’s behind some of those locked doors. Oh gee, look at
the time, we ought to get going.

The
whole ordeal had us a bit shaky, so we found a regular, no-tools-required
massage for Veronica while I went in search of a malt beverage
to calm my nerves.

I decided to
go for a shot of the

steamy medicinal elixir bubbling up out of
the ground instead.
I’m much better now.

No wonder people keep coming here.

David &
Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Did you know that Hot Springs hosts the World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade?

.


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9 thoughts on “Probing Hot Springs”

  1. Looks pretty intimidating to say the least. I love hot onsens, which are really very hot to the point that you do not move unless your nerve endings have a fit on you. This would require me to have both a regular massage and a malt beverage.

  2. We visited the Roman baths in of all places, Bath, England. Hot spring waters have been touted for their healing powers from the very beginning. There is always going to be someone to ‘capitalize’ on the pain of others.

  3. As a former history teacher, I remember from the turn of the last century, that physical fitness craze at that time seemed to be almost entirely devoted to the colon. That included some really horrible procedures, tools, etc. YIKES!

  4. Interesting, scary, please don't go behind those doors !!! This reminds me of how they used to treat psychiatric patients, thankfully that's changed too !!!

    1. We discovered some of that had happened in another turn of the century hot springs resort town, Eureka Springs Arkansas. Scary stuff, now they claim the hotel (the former hospital) is haunted.

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