Containing portions of downtown Hot Springs, Ark., this national park is regarded as one of the most easily accessible in the country. Over the years, the land here has been considered the source of healing and medicinal legends from both Native American tribes and Victorian era doctors. It was set aside by an act of Congress that helped pave the way for the National Park System and soon developed into a successful spa town, treating everyone from military veterans to Al Capone. The smallest national park by area, it is also the oldest park maintained by the park service. Hot Springs National Park and the city around it tell a unique story from American history, one about a hunt for miracle cures, prohibition, early vacationers and geothermal wonders.
The wonders of Hot Springs are both natural and man-made. The geothermal waters have created unique water formations and the mineral content of these waters have long baffled researchers trying to find what healing elements can be gleaned from them. Visitors to the park not only marvel at these natural wonders but at the beautiful hotels and bathhouses constructed during the Gilded Age, constructed to accommodate the many famous and wealth visitors to the area. Hot Springs was a popular vacation destination for baseball teams in spring training during the late 1800s as well as supreme court justices, gangsters, gamblers, World War I and II veterans, and robber barons. Today, bathing in the waters is still allowed for a price, but there is much more than healing waters to this national park.
From strange names to Civil War battlefields to an entire city leveled by a tornado to a town touted as one of the resorts in the country, there are a lot of interesting remnants of the past lying around various parts of this state. Whether these towns are submerged under water or hidden in the mountains, there is no telling what you might uncover in lost Arkansas.
Arkansas Post - The First Settlement
The first European settlement in the lower Mississippi Valley, Arkansas Post was established in 1686 by Henri de Tonti, a French fur trader working on the banks of the lower Arkansas River. This trading post served as a meeting point for French, Spanish and Quapaw Indians for years. The post was originally called Aux Arcs, meaning "at the home of the Arkansas," after the Quapaw Indians. When the king of France began investing more capitol into his American territories, Arkansas Post gained in stature.
An influx of immigrants from Germany and France turned the area into a agricultural hub. Soon, 100 slaves and indentured servants were brought over to help the investors who had gotten rich on the land in addition to the German settlers. However, the economic bubble soon burst and many of these original settlers migrated south into Mississippi and Louisiana. By 1720, the trading post was almost deserted when, in 1723, French soldiers took over the trading post to use as a fort. They built barracks, a powder magazine, prisoner and a house for their commander, First Ensign Pierre Louis Petit de Coulange in 1731.
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