Hot Springs Mountain Tower
In 1877 local mill owner Enoch Woolman built a wooden observation tower at the summit of Hot Springs Mountain to allow visitors to enjoy the view of the surrounding region. In 1906 a new steel tower opened on Hot Springs Mountain on land leased by Charles N. Rix, president of Arkansas National Bank, and the old Woolman Observatory was removed. Rix Tower included an elevator to carry visitors to the top, where they could view an area estimated by Superintendent Scott Smith to cover a radius of 30 to 40 miles.
Rix Tower was taken down on July 13, 1971 and in March 1982 a contract was signed for the construction of a new observation tower. The 216-foot tall structure opened to the public in June 1983 as part of the 13th Annual Arkansas Fun Festival.
The Hot Springs Mountain Tower is operated as a concession for the park. The tower's upper observation deck is open-air and at an elevation of 1,256 feet above sea level. From there, visitors may overlook 140 square miles of surrounding countryside, including the entire park and a portion of the Ouachita Mountains. The lower observation deck, enclosed and air conditioned, contains exhibits highlighting park and local history. A gift shop is located at the base of the tower.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Hot Springs is a city in the state of Arkansas and the county seat of Garland County. The city is located in the Ouachita Mountains among the U.S. Interior Highlands, and is set among several natural hot springs for which the city is named. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city had a population of 35,193. In 2017 the estimated population was 36,915.
The center of Hot Springs is the oldest federal reserve in the United States, today preserved as Hot Springs National Park. The hot spring water has been popularly believed for centuries to possess medicinal properties, and was a subject of legend among several Native American tribes. Following federal protection in 1832, the city developed into a successful spa town. Incorporated January 10, 1851, the city has been home to Major League Baseball spring training, illegal gambling, speakeasies and gangsters such as Al Capone, horse racing at Oaklawn Park, the Army and Navy Hospital, and 42nd President Bill Clinton. One of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the United States, the Assemblies of God, traces its beginnings to Hot Springs.
Today, much of Hot Springs's history is preserved by various government entities. Hot Springs National Park is maintained by the National Park Service, including Bathhouse Row, which preserves the eight historic bathhouse buildings and gardens along Central Avenue. Downtown Hot Springs is preserved as the Central Avenue Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city also contains dozens of historic hotels and motor courts, built during the Great Depression in the Art Deco style. Due to the popularity of the thermal waters, Hot Springs benefited from rapid growth during a period when many cities saw a sharp decline in building; much like Miami's art deco districts. As a result, Hot Springs's architecture is a key part of the city's blend of cultures, including a reputation as a tourist town and a Southern city. Also a destination for the arts, Hot Springs features the Hot Springs Music Festival, Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival, and the Valley of the Vapors Independent Music Festival annually.