Hancock Springs

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Linda McMurray on April 22, 2008

"Most visitors during the 1870s camped out around the springs in tents. They created their own simple diversions, shared their treatment experiences, and attended an occasional singing or camp meeting.

After the arrival of the Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fe Railroad (GC&SF) in 1882, a group of Galveston railroad men developed the reeking springs into the "Saratoga Springs of the Southwest," equating it with the famed New York mineral-springs spa that attracted a wealthy Eastern clientele.

Near Hancock Springs, they built the grand 200-room Park Hotel, with a large dining room, ballrooms, and 19th-century luxuries such as carpeted hallways and electric lights throughout. An orchestra provided year-round entertainment. In 1883, the Park Hotel was the most elegant resort in Central Texas. The Hanna Springs Company built a handsome pavilion over its springs, with lodging and a large entertainment hall upstairs and a bathhouse downstairs.

Unlike the campers, hotel guests came more for social diversion than for the mineral water. Lampasas flourished, but its popularity began declining after the GC&SF extended its tracks to Ballinger in 1886. Although business was waning, Hanna Springs alone recorded 6,000 baths taken during 1888. But by 1891, the Park Hotel's business was in the red. For several years, the Keely Institute operated a treatment center for alcoholics in the building. In 1894, Centenary College moved in; in 1895, the main building was destroyed by fire. A few visitors continued to camp out at the springs through the early 1900s." The Dallas Morning News

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  • Uploaded on February 25, 2008
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Linda McMurray