I love history and I really love historic hotels. I have sold probably 20-25 historic hotels over the years that date back to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. With each one I dig deep into its history and am fascinated by its past and how the people lived in that time period.
Probably one of the most amazing and interesting stories I have ever encountered is about Indian Springs Georgia. The town is about 60-70 miles south of Atlanta and today has a Georgia State Park on the land that once was an Indian reservation. The area has waters falls, camping, cabins and all the components you would expect in a state park. Indian Springs has also been known for centuries for its naturally produced healing mineral water. People would travel hundreds and even thousands of miles for the water. It is produced by a natural underground stream and the mineral water is so dense it smells like rotten eggs but is said to have healed all manner of diseases from arthritis, kidneys, and various wounds to cardio vascular issues.
120 years ago it also had (as I believe) the first Indian Casino in the country. Yes gambling. Today is just a State Park where you would go for camping and picnics and there is also the little town of Indian Springs just above the park and that is where this story begins.
Elaine and I were down there a couple of years back and we went through an antique store just looking around. While we worked our way through the store we went into a back room and they had these large pictures on the wall of hotels. I mean big hotels. Well as you can guess, it peeked my interest and I began asking questions about the hotels. The story is that around 1895 – 1905 there were 10 hotels at Indian Springs that catered to tourists. This flabbergasted me because there are no hotels there now and to my knowledge had never been. The story is that Indian Springs used to be like the Vegas of the east coast 120 years ago. People would travel via railroad from all across the country to vacation in Indian Springs. They had restaurants, bowling alleys, drinking, gambling and added to that the healing waters. It was basically a very desirable resort area that was known nationwide. Ha.
In 1920 the Government initiated Prohibition which made it illegal to sell alcohol and the big hotels in Indian Springs all got into financial trouble. The people that enjoyed all the gambling, liquor and other activities stopped coming. Shortly thereafter several of the large historical hotels mystically burned to the ground all within the same week. I can’t image why that would be. Can you? Ha. The remaining hotels slumbered through the recession years and were eventually torn down. When that happened the resort town of Indian Springs Georgia returned back to a little town existence with a State Park.
The story of Indian Springs Georgia is one of those tales of lore about a time period of great prosperity and vibrancy that only lasted a short number of years. When I think about these type stories, I think of the people that are all long deceased and the lives that changed during that period in the early 1900’s.
It still gives me pause wondering what it must have been like during that time. Hope you enjoyed this little American history lesson. KT