The drive through the western end of the Ozarks to Eureka Springs took winding mountain roads with enough hairpin curves to make a bald man nervous. I’m not sure what that means, but I couldn’t pass up referring to hairpins and baldness in the same sentence. I’m always tempted to drive fast enough to scare myself on that type of road, but avoided doing so since Paula was driving and we ended up behind a tractor-trailer rig most of the way, two factors that enforced a reasonable pace. We had plenty of time to enjoy the views.
We drove right to the massage center for Paula’s scheduled ninety-minute massage. I took the time to walk around the area, upsetting myself by taking the most heavily travelled road and completely missing the turnoff to the historic center. I had a good view of motels and storefronts, and had no difficulty convincing myself that it has been a colossal mistake to schedule two nights in this place. By the time Paula was done with her massage I’d worked up a good case of ‘hanger’ which was fairly well dispatched by a good dinner and craft draft at an outdoor patio downtown.
Downtown is definitely down, except where it is up. No, I’m not stoned, I’m just meaniging to to say there is not a level five-foot length of street anywhere in the area. I find it amazing that so many stone buildings could be built on such steep hills. I was told there is a seven-story building in the city where each floor has an entrance from the street. We did not see it and can’t recall seeing any seven story buildings. I would not be surprised if it were true, since we definitely were either headed uphill or downhill for the entire visit.
We were actually able to find parking spaces in our two ventures to the historic district. Traffic, particularly in the daytime, is dense if not congested. Eureka Springs appears to be a popular spot for motorcyclists. Designated motorcycle parking is everywhere. It is important, though, to recognize that only Harley’s are really motorcycles, the rest are motorbikes, rice burners or crotch rockets. Drivers of BMW’s, Motoguzzis, and Indians are not necessarily forgiven their sins, but at least receive a dispensation.
Eureka springs has been known for the healing properties of the spring water since before the Civil War. Of course all sorts of patent medicines were popular in the 19th and earlier 20th centuries so we take the health testimonials with a grain of salt. The health benefits of salt have also been overstated, we hear. Now, however, public access to springs is difficult, if not impossible. We thought we’d check out the hot springs for relaxation. There are no hot springs. Are there cold springs? Yes. Where can we find them? You can’t since they are closed to the public. What about the reputation as a health resort? There are plenty of spas and massage parlors. Any more questions?
We actually found a cold spring and were warned away by signs saying the water is unsafe to drink or to contact. Paula found a copy of a sign from a century ago pointing out that fainting, chills, diarrhea, and other effects from the water should be seen as a sign the cure is working. Sort of like what we hear from the CDC about adverse effects from the COVID vaccine.
In reality it seems that the purpose of historic downtown area in exclusively to sell stuff to tourists and to offer accommodations in once luxurious hotels. i don’t think I’ve ever found something I need at a tourist shop. The historic center does have its charms, though, mostly in the quaintness of the buildings and in the friendliness of the residents.
The Flatiron building is actually a recent incarnation of two previous buildings that had been destroyed by fire. This is the second on this site and was elected on the late twentieth century.
The locals we spoke with universally directed us to the surrounding countryside rather than anywhere in the city for enjoyment. Except for food. If barbeque is your thing, there are many establishments that can fill sate your appetite. Paula and I shared a Cubano sandwich at the Rockin Pig for lunch and weren’t hungry again until the following morning. A young man we encountered at the visitor information center suggested we drive to a wooden bridge at Beaver Lake. It was a really beautiful mountain road with many vistas and overlooks. We stopped several times to appreciate the quietness and watch hawks circling above the river. The bridge is a steel bridge with a deck made of wood planks that rattled like hell when we drove over. I was struck by a memory from childhood of crossing a bridge like that and being terrified, thinking the bridge must certainly collapse from the weight of the car. I was not surprised to later find that RoadsideAmerica.com identified that bridge as the “Terrifying Beaver Bridge.” The attendant at the park told me the bridge will be closed starting in two days for maintenance. Seems that our timing was spot on.
We also walked around Black Bass Lake that afternoon, a hike of not more than a mile. It was very quiet. We had been told it was a place few tourists would find. We only saw one person though there were two cars in the parking lot.
Altogether, I think the visit to Eureka Springs was worthwhile and I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in history or architecture.
It is essential, while in Eureka Springs to pay homage to the goddess of feminine cosmic energy found overlooking the Basin Springs Park.