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Accounts of Indian leaders sharing the water with other tribes or with white settlers have been told to visitors since the end of the nineteenth century but have no historical foundation.
When the Osage ceded northern Arkansas to the United States government in 1825, the land was open to white settlers, but the Eureka Springs area remained sparsely populated until after the Civil War. Alvah Jackson is said to have found the springs (and their reputed healing powers) in 1856, but he reportedly shared the water only locally at first.
Tourism continued to wane after the turn of the century.
The once-famous Crescent Hotel was used as a school, the Crescent College and Conservatoryfor Young Women, from 1908 to 1924. In the 1930s, the building ran as a junior college and even a cancer hospital.
Following Saunderss lead, twenty more families set up camp nearby. Although the city population remained under 4,000 people, thousands more came to the Eureka Springs area and set up housing, often small wooden shacks on the hillsides surrounding the sixty-two springs of the area.
Saunderss son, Buck, reportedly suggested that they call the settlement Eureka for explorer Juan Ponce de Leons exclamationmeaning, I have found it! The city was formally founded on July 4, 1879, when Saunders built the first house, and more people arrived every day to take advantage of the springs. The rapid construction of wooden houses—as well as more than fifty hotels, boarding houses, and businesses—made the young community vulnerable to fire, and major fires struck the city in 1883, 1888, 1890, and 1893.
Jackson’s Cave Hospital,” and healed wounded soldiers with the spring water and other natural remedies he had learned from Native Americans.
At the invitation of Jackson in the spring of 1879, Judge Levi Best Saunders of Berryville (Carroll County)tried the spring water for a skin disease, and, after he was healed, he set up camp in the area. Captain Joseph Perry, owner of hotels across the United States, built a four-story hotel, the Perry House, in 1881.
While Osage hunting parties undoubtedly drank from the springs, no evidence exists to suggest that the Osage or other tribes considered the water of any special medicinal value.
As a result, Eureka Springs’ leaders sought to separate the county into two judicial districts with a second courthouse in their city.
Though this idea was fought by the citizens of the existing county seat, Berryville (Carroll County), the Arkansas General Assemblyapproved the proposal on March 12, 1883, effectively making Carroll County one of several counties in Arkansas with two county seats.
The railroads moved their shops to Harrison, depriving Eureka Springs of many jobs.
An expected boom to be prompted byoil wellsin northern Arkansas fizzled when little available petroleum was found.
Ozarka Brand Natural Spring Water was established in 1905, bottling water from the Basin Spring.