Accommodations, Architecture, ART, Attractions, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Eureka Springs Magical Mystery Tour

Crescent Hotel, Eureka Springs AR
Is that a ghost peeking out the window?


OK – so it wasn’t a magical mystery tour, but it was a ghost tour, so I was close. One of the joys of traveling with people is that they’ll inspire you to do things you wouldn’t do on your own. By myself or with my husband, The Crescent Ghost Tour would not have been on my agenda.  But if Deb wanted to go, well I was in.  After all, she was willing to do all the things on my list.

The History of The Crescent Hotel

The Crescent Hotel has quite  a spooky history, but I didn’t realize that when I signed up for the tour.  I knew the hotel was linked to the springs and figured rich folks from the past would come there for the waters, but I didn’t know about Dr. Evil. (He called himself Dr. Ellis, but I think Dr. Evil is more appropriate.)

See, the guy who built the hotel made it one of the grandest hotels of his era, but taking the waters of Eureka Springs proved to be a seasonal event.  To keep the hotel running, it became a women’s college in the school year, but even that wasn’t enough when The Depression hit.  The Grand Old Lady of the Ozarks became an empty shell.

Guide, The Crescent Hotel Ghost Tour, Eureka Springs AR
This is not Dr. Evil. This was our tour guide.

Once The Crescent Hotel fell on hard times, a less than gallant gentleman paid a mere pittance for it and set up one of the most awful places I’ve ever heard of in my life.  He claimed to be a doctor who had discovered the cure for cancer, but he was no doctor and he didn’t have any cures, either.  Still, people were desperate and paid magnificent sums to come be tortured with injections from huge hypodermic needles several times a day.  And if you didn’t like that, Dr. Evil would move you to the wing behind the iron plating so the other “guests” wouldn’t hear your screams.  No wonder this place is haunted.

It’s estimated that about 200 of his “patients” died in the three years he managed the house of horrors.  Finally, he was arrested for mail fraud.  Seems it was OK for him to claim he could cure cancer.  He just couldn’t send out letters through the mail claiming he could cure cancer.  The day he was arrested, all the patient files burned, but noone knows how. There’s a mystery for you.

Creepy Crescent Conditions

Anyway, The Crescent Hotel is now living a new life, but it can’t get away form the past.  There’s an abnormal number of things that seem to go bump in the night. They’ve even had T.A.P.S. from the SyFy Channel  in to check things out.  The link will take you to their very paranormal experience.

So if you can’t get rid of the ghosts, then you should capitalize on them – hence the nightly ghost tour. The ghost tour takes itself rather seriously.  They introduce the history of the town and the hotel.  Then they show you the T.A.P.S. video along with other things like photographs of orbs and pictures of unexplained apparitions.  If you’re the least bit bothered about things like this, expect the hair to stand up on the back of your neck.

registration desk, Cresent Hotel, Eureka Springs AR
The registration desk in the lobby. Some of the guests have overstayed their welcome.

I approached the tour with an open mind, because I don’t think we’ve found the answer for everything, yet.  I don’t think that every time someone gets spooked it’s the dead coming to haunt them, but there are things we can’t explain.  However, even if there were ghosts at the Crescent, they weren’t going to come out on our tour.  We had a very obnoxious drunk on the tour and she mistakenly believed we were more interested in her encounter with Abraham Lincoln earlier in the day,  (Lincoln never visited the hotel) than we were in our tour guide.

Anyway, that’s the background.  Next week, I’ll tell you about the tour.

Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

A Little Mountain Climbing Anyone?

Grotto Springs
Grotto Springs


A Little History

First, a little history. Native Indians found Eureka Springs first. For century upon century, the tribes shared the waters. We’re not sure whether they drank it or bathed in it, but the evidence of their presence is all around.  Then in the mid-1800’s a more entrepreneurial group of Americans found the water.  Local legend tells of a doctor hunting with his ailing son discovering the water’s healing properties.  So what did he do with it?  He started bottling it. Typical.

Word got out and on the fourth of July in 1879, a tent city had grown up around Basin Springs and the city was officially named.  Little time was allowed to pass before someone built a luxury accommodations for the more affluent of the ailing and a railroad to haul them in.  The rest is history.

The luxury getaway was called The Crescent Hotel, but things didn’t turn out exactly as planned, That’s why they now have a ghost tour every evening, but more about that later. Suffice it to say, we’d ordered tickets for the ghost tour online, but they’d been for the wrong date, so we needed to get up to the hotel and straighten things out.

After Lunch, a Stroll

Looking at the map on one of the brochures we could tell The Garden Bistro wasn’t very far away from The Crescent.  In fact, Mapquest tells me it’s just.61 miles from one point to the next.  Deb and I work out twice a week with a trainer.  What’s half a mile, right?  Well, we forgot about the stairstep city stuff.

Spring Street Shopping
Spring Street Shopping

The Garden Bistro is most probably the lowest point in Eureka Springs.  The Crescent Hotel is the highest.  Somehow that escaped us.  We followed Main Street as it curved up to the stairwell we’d taken before.  Then we climbed up Spring.  Excuse me, we CLIMBED up Spring Street.  In the picture you can see the slope, but it doesn’t look as extreme in the picture as it actually is.

By the time we reached Sweet Spring we were looking for a shortcut and even though the stairs that led up over the spring were steep, they seemed a more direct route.  Here’s the problem, once we took the stairs, there were several more flights of them waiting above us.  We chose to laugh, but whatever type of acrophobia is related to stairs, Deborah has it, so in places, the chuckles were nervous laughter.  When we finally sighted the Crescent we were exhausted.  In other words, don’t do this!!

Deb out front of The Crescent Hotel
Deb out front of The Crescent Hotel

Over-planning Pays Off

The hotel fixed our ghost tour problem in nothing flat. (Thanks to the email on my smartphone.  Have I mentioned that I love my smartphone?)  We were glad to have the ticket problem solved, but that left us with a problem.  How were we going to get back down.

My husband claims that I over-plan vacations, but for once that was a good thing.  I remembered Eureka Springs had trolleys and that the Crescent Hotel was one of the stops.  Sure enough, the trolley waited right outside and, for just a few dollars, delivered us almost to the spot where our car was parked.

I can’t brag enough on the Eureka Springs Trolleys.  Eureka Springs is just not the kind of town where you can drive your car to something and park outside.The trolleys are cheap, they run all day and there’s one coming by all the time.  Believe me, you want to use the trolleys.

Once we were delivered to our car, it was finally late enough to check into our Bed and Breakfast Inn.  I’ll tell you about that next week.