• water flowing over rocks into basin

    Hot Springs

    National Park Arkansas

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  • RFP for Maurice and Libbey Bathhouses

    Requests for Proposals for the Maurice and Libbey Bathhouses are being accepted from 7/7/14 to 1/30/15. Click on the "Management" link in the left column for more information.

  • Elevator closure

    Hot Springs National Park regrets to announce that the elevator in the Fordyce Visitor Center is closed for maintenance. The upper and lower levels are accessible only by stairways. The elevator will be placed back into service in about 4 to 6 weeks.

Trading Cards

Kids! Collect stories about the Civil War and civil rights! The National Park Service is offering more than 500 trading cards to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Visit a park in person to earn a card (sorry, cards cannot be mailed). Ask a ranger or stop by the visitor center at a participating park, such as this one. You can view all the cards online and discover stories from nearly 90 national parks in 31 states and the District of Columbia. You'll be surprised at what you will learn.

 
Head and shoulders shot of black man wearing a fedora style hat, suit jacket, white shirt and tie.

Alroy Puckett, former manager of the National Baptist Hotel

Hot Springs National Park

Alroy Puckett
Alroy Puckett was manager of the National Baptist Hotel and Bathhouse when it closed in 1982. Before integration, this facility was the center of the African American community. Mr. Puckett viewed the business closing as bittersweet, saying "It's a small price to pay for integration. If that is what is killing us, then let it go on."

 
Women in uniform standing at attention in rows with a white stucco building behind them, waiting for inspection.

Enlisted women waiting for inspection by officer.

Courtesy of Garland County Historical Society

Army and Navy General Hospital
What began as a hospital for Civil War veterans in the 1880s later offered women a chance to help during World War II. The Army and Navy General Hospital housed the first medical technical school for the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps, (WAC). Women were assigned courses for medical, surgical, dental, laboratory, or x-ray technicians, physical and occupational therapy.

 
Black woman in white dress that looks like a nurses's uniform, in front of building with hedge

Myrtle Cheatham in front of the Fordyce Bathhouse where she worked.

Courtesy of Hildreth family

Hot Springs Bathhouses Offered Good-Paying Jobs
The segregated bathhouses offered African Americans a good income for the area. They received a salary, but could also accept tips. Clients often asked for a favorite attendant year after year. Several left teaching for bathhouse positions. Massage therapists were highest paid, but that meant traveling to the Kellberg Institute in Chicago for training.

 
Black woman giving cup to white woman sitting in a bath tub.

African Americans served the white customers in the businesses on Bathhouse Row where they were not allowed to bathe.

Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs Bathhouses
African Americans were the main workforce for the bathhouses in Hot Springs National Park and the city of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Before integration in the 1960s, due to local laws, they could not be customers in those bathhouses. If they wanted a bath treatment, they had to go to an African American-owned bathhouse. Read more.

 
one story building front with columns

Government Free Bathhouse

Hot Springs National Park

Free Baths for Indigents
Following the Civil War, veterans flocked to Hot Springs, Arkansas seeking treatments for wounds and illnesses. Many were poor and could not afford to pay for bath treatments. This started the tradition of federally operated free bathhouses for the poor. The last of the free bathhouses was the Libbey and discontinued this service in 1957.

Did You Know?

copy of lithograph from a publication showing the valley of the hot springs with Hot Springs Creek on the right and two men in the foregroun

Hot Springs Reservation, the first designation of Hot Springs National Park, was set aside by Congress in 1832. This makes Hot Springs National Park the oldest unit in the national park system, 40 years older than Yellowstone National Park.