|City/Town: • Hot Springs|
|Location Class: • Commercial • Industrial|
|Built: • 1930's | Abandoned: • N/A|
|Status: • Abandoned • Burned Down • Endangered|
|Photojournalist: • Michael Schwarz • Grant King|
“Once long ago a chief who had been in poor health for many moons came to the sacred Valley of the Vapors hoping to find relief in the magic waters. Seemingly, however, the thermal waters did not have sufficient power to cure his affliction. After bathing in the pools, immersing himself in the hot mud, and enduring the sweat lodge, his condition did not improve. Instead, his illness worsened, and his pain grew so severe he could not sleep.
One night, as the chief lay delirious in his tent, his beautiful daughter, weeping for his pain, came to him and took him by the hand. She led him out of the valley in search of cool waters she had been told had strong magic to cure him. After passing through a deep gorge in the mountain, they followed a small stream until they reached a place where five cool, living springs burst forth from the rocky earth. Here, the daughter filled a gourd and held it to her father’s lips. When he had drunk the cool, refreshing water, he fell into a deep, restful sleep. When the old man awoke, his pain was gone and he was cured of the affliction.
Out of gratitude to his lovely daughter, the chief gave her the name, Chewaukla, which meant “Sleepy Water,” and the springs were known thereafter as Chewaukla Springs. The sleepy water soon became famous for the relaxing effect it had on all who drank there.”- Sandra Long and Marcus Phillips (Manataka American Indian Council)
This is the story behind the establishment of Sleepy Water Springs on Sleepy Valley Road in Hot Springs, Arkansas. This legend would most likely have occurred Pre-1800, and would be used by the Indians until 1818 when the Quapaws ceded the land around the springs to the United States in a treaty. The Indians built four or five medicine cabins around these springs and treated the area as holy ground. One-hundred years later, the forgotten Sleepy Valley Springs were discovered and became a national sensation. People would travel hundreds of miles to visit the healing springs of not only Hot Springs, but of Sleepy Valley. The increase of tourism brought business to the valley. During the 1930’s, investors from Chicago constructed a complex of yellow brick buildings with a park for large groups of tourists to come drink from the springs.
The main building, where grand windows, marbles floors, and sliding doors create a unique combination of cultures. The front door sits below a large stone medallion of a beautiful maiden, that being Chewaukla, which is still visible to this day. Hidden behind the main building lies two yellow brick gazebos with a well in the center of each, both made of quartz and white tile.
Today, the factory is in absolute ruin. Sadly, it appears as if a fire torched the interior sometime after the picture above was taken. It is very difficult to see during the summer, especially the gazebos behind it. There are still bottles, appliances, doors, and benches spread about the area. There appears to be only three wells visible, and those are in excellent condition.
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