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REPORT OF THE SUPERINTENDENT OF THE HOT SPRINGS
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Hot SPRINGS RESERVATION,
Hot Springs, Ark., August 13, 1915. Sir: I have the honor to respectfully submit my annual report as Superintendent of the Hot Springs Reservation for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1915.
While there is no positive historical data fixing the date of discovery of these hot springs, it is presumed from legendary traditions handed down that they were discovered by the nomadic primitive races and their healing waters were used for many generations before the adventurous Ponce de Leon set foot upon the Western Hemisphere. From the most reliable historical data available it is believed that these now famous Hot Springs were visited in 1541 by De Soto and his proud, chivalric band of Castilians, who were the first white men to drink from the Fountain."
As nearly as can be established from truthful history the first white settlers came in the year 1800. Dunbar and Hunter of the Lewis and Clark Expedition visited the Hot Springs in 1804, and their report shows that they found an open log cabin and a few huts built of split boards, which had been erected by persons resorting to the springs for the restoration of their health. A cabin was built there by Manuel Prudhomme in 1807, and he was joined in the same year by John Purciful and Isaac Cates, who camped here and engaged in hunting and trapping.
From this time the fame of the springs began to spread and each year added to their patronage. Toward the end of the twenties there were permanent settlers at the springs. In 1832 four sections of land were reserved by the Government, with the hot springs near the center, and in 1878 this land was platted and sold to various claimants with the exception of that which now comprises the permanent Hot Springs Reservation and all of the hot springs. At the time of this subdivision the Government retained a large number of city residence lots, practically all of which have since been sold from time to time at public auction by order of the Secretary of the Interior, after due advertisement. None of these lots, however, were within the bounds of the permanent reservation, but located in the city proper.
The Hot Springs Reservation now contains an area of 911 acres, consisting of five units, viz, Hot Springs, North, West, and Sugar Loaf Mountains, and Whittington Lake Reserve Park, but the hot
water springs issue forth only from the west slope and at the base of Hot Springs Mountain, which embraces 264 acres, and the 46 springs, with an average daily flow of 826,000 gallons and an average temperature of 135° F., are confined within an area of 500 by 1,400 feet.
Situated, as it is, in a spur of the Ozark Mountains, which are noted for their beauty, the natural scenic conditions are all that heart could wish, and to sufferers of various diseases it offers thermal radioactive water and climatic conditions unequaled, and no mineral waters yet discovered can show as great a number of cures or such a range and variety of ailments which the human body is heir to that yield to their almost miraculous influence.
The wisdom of the retention, control, and supervision of these springs under the fostering care of the National Government has been fully demonstrated during the years which have elapsed since its title was established. The trust reposed in the Government by the people has been guarded with extreme care. The springs are now the property of the people, free from monopoly and extortion, and within the reach of all! The obligation assumed carried with it responsibilities which have been discharged in a manner befitting their protection and benefit, and is a guaranty that in future years this priceless boon to suffering humanity will be administered with characteristic fidelity to the end that it may remain the common heritage of all mankind.
Upon assuming charge of the reservation as superintendent August 4, 1914, I was fortunate in finding a corps of efficient employees who have been of great assistance in the proper administration of the affairs of this office.
The problems with which we have to contend are entirely different from those encountered in any of the other national parks, by reason of the fact that a large portion of the 125,000 or more visitors annually call at the superintendent's office for information and advice relative to doctors, bathhouses, hotels, etc. This information given is necessarily general in character, and in most cases a circular of general information issued by the department and a list of the registered physicians is furnished to the applicant. A large number of these persons are sick, debilitated, or nervous, and extreme care is taken to see that all receive kind and courteous treatment, which is highly appreciated by the visiting public. The visitor is the principal asset in Hot Springs, and should be treated with due consideration and made to feel at home upon his arrival.
Economy is practiced in the expenditure of funds, and practically all improvement work is done by day labor under direct supervision from the superintendent's office, thereby saving the profits that would otherwise go to contractors and giving the Government full value received for every dollar expended.
A complete daily report is rendered by the manager of each bathhouse, showing the name, home and local address, attendant, and doctor, if any, of each purchaser of a bath ticket, together with the total number of baths given each day, supplemented by a sworn monthly statement of the business of the bathhouse, and then at the end of each fiscal year a sworn annual statement is submitted by each bathhouse and the Arlington Hotel, showing the total receipts, itemized