Wednesday, November 3, 2021


The 47 hot springs in Hot Springs National Park aren't the only springs around Hot Springs. A collection of ruins now sit at the site of five natural springs, which sit just outside of Hot Springs in an area called Sleepy Valley.


In the 1930s, investors constructed several buildings around the five springs. The largest was the bottling factory, which apparently once had marble floors. Tourists who visited Hot Springs would also journey here to partake in the waters, which were said to have healing qualities.



The Chewaukla name comes from the legend of a Native American chief (possibly Quapaw?), who travelled to the Valley of the Vapors to seek relief from his various ailments. When the waters of the hot springs weren't working, his daughter took him to the cold water springs in the nearby Sleepy Valley. He drank from those waters and was healed. Because of this, he named his daughter Chewaukla, which supposedly translates to "Sleepy Water." After that, the springs were conisdered to be holy ground.



Who knows if the legend of Chewaukla is actually true, or if it was something invented to help lure in tourists later (kinda like the legend of Petit Jean?). But what was once supposedly a holy ground and then later a tourist attraction now lays nearly forgotten, crumbling and nearly completely hidden by trees.



The buildings were abandoned in the 1980s, and have suffered the same fate as most other discarded places. Part of the main building burned at one point, and the roof collapsed long ago.



Sadly, the ruins of Chewaukla are like so many other places in Hot Springs. Little bits of unique architecture and history that are vacant and neglected, and which shouldn't be so easily discarded. Hopefully no more of the city's places will meet such a fate (like the now abandoned Army and Navy Hospital).


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