Discovering Eureka! | A Blog Series
Updated: Mar 26, 2019
A Blog Series
Geography and History
Eureka Springs lies in the extremely broken and irregular mountains midway between Northwest Arkansas' Boston and Ozark Mountain ranges. Located 1,700 feet above sea level, the climate of Eureka Springs is considered mild in winter and pleasant in summer. Nine miles from the Missouri state line, Eureka Springs is situated on the headwaters of Leatherwood Creek, a tributary of the White River.
Many references to the rugged terrain of Eureka Springs has been made through nicknames such as "The Town That Climbs The Mountain", "America's Little Switzerland", and "The Stairstep Town" as buildings and houses in Eureka Springs Historic District are stacked one behind the other, on twenty steep hills divided by nineteen ravines.
The original plat of the city laid out 238 streets and avenues, although a few of them were never opened. Streets were laid out following old paths of the Indians and animals, which had followed the path of least resistance to the old Indian Healing Spring. The buildings that comprise the Eureka Springs Historic District are located on 100+ winding streets that take on various shapes like Ss, Vs and Os.
87% of the 967 properties in the Eureka Springs Historic District were built as residences. The historic district contains 101 commercial buildings, twelve churches, five public buildings and fifteen springs with varying types of features such as gazebos, grottos, and elaborate landscaping. Historic landscape features such as limestone block walls and sidewalks throughout the city, sets of public stairs, and walking paths are a significant part of the overall character of Eureka Springs Historic District.
Jacob's Ladder, a set of 200 steps that lead up the side of East Mountain to a loop of lanes dotted with old cottages and hidden springs.
Climbing Jacob's Ladder to the springs and back takes about an hour, making it a perfect activity for visitors and locals alike. The stairs start behind the Grand Central Hotel, at North Main and Flint, on Jackson, the first side street on the left -- look for the handrail leading up through the trees just past the street sign. An easy climb leads to the first street, where you can turn left and do the springs loop clockwise. Or you can cross the lane, go up the next set of steps to the upper street and walk the loop counterclockwise, making the steep but short section of the walk downhill.
The upper street is on the level with the top of the Basin Park Hotel and the backs of the buildings on Spring Street, on what was known as West Mountain. Turning left, the road passes Soldier Spring, where legend has it that two bushwhackers were discovered and shot. Quaint cottages, built as retreats in the 1920s, line the street, which has a different name for each stretch. The first three are named for trees -- Copper, Hazel and Nut. Stone retaining walls border the uphill side of the lane. Bottle trees add a note of color to side yards. At Cold Spring Reservation, the road goes downhill and curves to the left. A path on the right, marked by a sign, leads to a bench next to Cold Spring.
Following the road to the lower part of the loop, in winter, this area is alive with cardinals, drawn to the berry bushes.
For eight historic walking tours of Eureka Springs, see "Walk Eureka Springs: Exploring Eureka Springs Historic Structures," published by the Eureka Springs Preservation Society and available at the Eureka Springs Historical Museum.
Discovering Eureka is a series of chapters in a blog series where we seek to discover the unique things that make up Eureka Springs. There is so much to see, experience and explore here in Eureka Springs and in this series we will take time to give you the local perspective on what to do, where to go, what to see and how did this become something significant for our town. Take a moment to check out the different chapters in this blog series on www.iloveureka.com