Eureka Springs, Arkansas has welcomed visitors for hundreds of years. Legends of several tribes spoke of a great healing spring in the mountains of what later became known as "Arkansas."
Early visitors believed this spring to be Basin Spring (in the heart of what is now downtown Eureka Springs) and these magical waters drew the afflicted in such numbers that Eureka Springs transformed from an isolated wilderness to a flourishing city in a few short months.
The water of Eureka Springs quickly gained national acclaim.
Ozarka is a brand of spring water which is bottled and sold mostly in the South Central United States, including Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, and portions of Tennessee, Missouri, and Kansas.
The Ozarka Spring Water Company was founded right here in Eureka Springs, Arkansas in 1905, but today, it is now a division of Nestlé Waters North America, Inc.
The first recorded man to find the healing water, bottled it. It was called "Dr. Jackson's Magic Eye Water." Several water shipping companies came and went after that. John S. Tibbs was one of the pioneers in water shipping, and he was succeeded by M.A. Church; Another was the Ramsey and Turner Water Company but the most famous was the Ozarka Water Company which shipped water for over a quarter of a century.
Tibbs and Church are always shown in old pictures at the Basin Spring. Ramsey and Turner used Mystic Spring but said that they would take from any spring requested. Ozarka's came from Ozarka Spring. Since Ozarka Spring was situated above the train depot, the water was piped directly into glass lined rail cars and there were distributors that bottled it when the rail cars arrived at their various destinations.
Ozarka water was also served aboard all Frisco trains.
Today, Ozarka water is selected from natural springs sources in Texas and it is no longer sourced from the Ozark Mountains. It is the franchise that was purchased away from here years ago.
This large circular structure, today known as The Roundhouse, first appears on street maps about 1892. and was identified as a "Gas Holder".
In 1904, a limestone structure 44 feet in diameter was built to replace the metal tank. It was then used for a warehouse for bottled spring water sold under the Trade name "Ozarka".
The Eureka Springs Improvement Company was formed in 1882 to bring the railroad to the city and to develop amenities to service the growing visitor population. Founded by carpetbagger, General Powell Clayton after his term as Arkansas Governor, Clayton would use his ties to the railroad and financial connections to the wealthy of St. Louis to build his own town.
Thousands of residences and commercial structures were built in just two short years with the construction of streets, water & sewer lines, an electric trolley and the world famous Crescent Hotel, serving as pinnacles of the Improvement Company's accomplishments.
Richard H. Thompson, successor to Duncan Operated the Ozarka Water Company for more than 1/2 century, bottling water from Bay's and Ozarka springs as well as shipping in glass-lined railroad tank cars.
In 1911 the St. Louis and North Arkansas Railroad connected Eureka Springs with Harrison to the east, lessening the town's importance as a commercial center. Thirteen years later, the railroad moved its shops out of Eureka Springs and transferred them to Harrison, AR.
After Ozarka ceased operation here, this round building has been used for various purposes through the years including apartments, an art gallery, restaurant and a night club.
The Roundhouse is now privately owned but is accessible to the public. Many of structures in Eureka Springs (nearly 2000 of them) still exist today and are so rigorously preserved that the entire town of Eureka Springs is on the National Register of Historic Places with national significance.
In 1978, local legislation was passed to create the Eureka Springs Historic District Commission which oversees all exterior alterations to built structures with the goal of preserving the architectural integrity of each era of the town's history for future generations.