Eureka Ghost Tours
Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Featuring the historic 1905 Basin Park Hotel

 

 

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Eureka Springs was born on July 4th, 1879…offspring of the many legends and stories of the MAGIC HEALING SPRING of the Osage Indians.  These legends and tales were spread word of mouth from Indian to traders and trappers and explorers who spanned the region from the Great Lakes to Southern Florida.  The Osage Indians were hunters and this area made an ideal habitat for their lifestyle.  The heavily wooded Ozark Mountains were rich with wildlife for hunting and trapping… and the Osage made the ideal “Guardians” for the Magic Healing Spring.  They permitted anyone to come to the spring to drink and bathe and heal - even the white man.  The area was considered by the Osage to be SACRED GROUND because of the healing quality of the waters.  As such, no form of hostility was acceptable and weapons were not permitted in the area of the springs.  Fear of antagonizing the SPIRIT OF THE SPRING was a strong incentive for hospitable behavior by all who visited the area.

In 1854, a doctor named Alva Jackson came to the area on a hunting trip.  He had long heard of the healing waters and, although he lived in a neighboring community, had never really believed the tales.  He was hunting in the area with his son who suffered with a chronic eye infection.  Dr. Jackson sent the son down the mountain to wash his eyes in the spring and, within three days, the eye infection had been cured.  Dr. Jackson began bottling the water as “Dr. Jackson’s Elixir”.

By the 1870’s, the region was well known by the white man and small groups of health seekers came to the area in search of whatever cures were needed.  At that time, a group of approximately 400 settlers had gathered around what we now know as Basin Spring.  The Osage Indians had hewn the basin out of a large rock ages ago and the spring flowed freely into that basin.  The community was a ramshackle assortment of tents, lean-to’s and shanties.  During an Independence Day celebration, the idea was proposed to formalize the settlement.  A group of seven wealthy businessmen, including Alva Jackson, calling themselves the “Eureka Improvement Company” took it upon themselves to see to the development of this “Health Resort”. By the next year, the city charter had been formalized and the population had grown to 15,000.  By the turn of the century, our full time population had grown to more than 20,000 permanent residents.

By 1880 an elegant, 4-story hotel known as the Perry House was built on the site of the healing spring.  Like most other buildings in Eureka at that time, the Perry House was built completely out of wood and by 1890 it had fallen victim to one of the four fires that completely leveled Eureka Springs to the ground.  By 1895, William Duncan organized the capital stock necessary to build the Basin Park Hotel on the site of the former Perry House.  Following the lead of the Crescent Hotel, it was decided to use our local limestone to build the hotel.  In the ten years it took to build the property, Duncan overextended his interest in the project and bankrupt the Citizens Bank and almost every other investor in the Syndicate.  The hotel finally opened in 1905. William Duncan died in 1907 but it is believed that he continues to roam the hotel in his trademark brown suit and derby..........

 

 

 

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