• John-Michael Scurio

Victorian Charm in the Ozarks

One of America's most scenic and charming communities, Eureka Springs is nestled in the beautiful Ozarks of Arkansas.

Founded and named in 1879, Eureka Springs quickly became a major resort destination as travelers from all over the country came to drink and soak in the pure spring waters flowing from the sides of the Ozark Mountains. Many of the springs still dot the landscape of the downtown area.

In less than one year, 3,000 people came to live in Eureka Springs. Elegant homes grew on the steep hillsides and the downtown district became the thriving center of what then was the fourth largest city in Arkansas.

The belief that the springs held medicinal properties diminished over time, but Eureka Springs remained an important destination. Much of the city's beautiful late 19th and early 20th century architecture has been preserved and the downtown area thrives as a unique shopping and entertainment district.

Numerous shops, restaurants and places to stay are available in Eureka Springs, among them the historic Basin Park Hotel and the famously haunted Crescent Hotel.

Constructed in 1886, the Crescent Hotel was popular with the wealthy during the late 19th and early 20th century architecture has been preserved and the downtown area thrives as a unique shopping and entertainment district.

Numerous shops, restaurants and places to stay are available in Eureka Springs, among them the historic Basin Park Hotel and the famously haunted Crescent Hotel.

Constructed in 1886, the Crescent Hotel was popular with the wealthy during the late 19th century. Guests could stroll the beautifully land-scaped grounds, dine in elegant splendor and enjoy activities ranging from carriage rides to "tea dances."

When the popularity of bathing in mineral springs faded, however, hard times came to the beautiful hotel. It fell into the hands of an eccentric character named Norman Baker or, as he liked to call himself, "Dr." Norman Baker.

A radio station owner and former manager of a "mind reading" show, "Dr." Baker came to Eureka Springs to promote a secret "cancer cure."  He called the Crescent his "Castle in the Air," brought in patients and - for the right price - subjected them to a variety of strange procedures.

Desperate patients flocked to the facility and Federal investigators later determined that he made more than $4 million peddling his fake cure. They indicted him for mail fraud in 1939. He was convicted and spent four years in prison before being released to spend the rest of his life in comfort in Florida.

Many of those he "treated" were not so fortunate and employees and guests say that some still walk the halls of the Crescent Hotel to this day. It has been featured on the popular television program Ghost Hunters.

Numerous other places in Eureka Springs are rumored to be haunted by a wide range of restless spirits. A variety of ghost tours are available.

The Eureka Springs Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and includes the entire downtown area. Over twenty different styles of unique architecture survive, ranging from Victorian homes to hotels to unusual storefronts.

Today the population of Eureka Springs remains at around 2,200, but more than 1.5 million visitors come to this tiny community each year.


A popular destination year-round, it is considered one of the nation's premier historic attractions.


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