People of Ral City on Hot Springs Mountain
People of "Ral City" on Hot Springs Mountain, 1878

National Park Service image from HOSP archives

Humans have been coming to this area for thousands of years to quarry the Novaculite stone found on the hilltops and to partake of the hot and cold spring water flowing from the ground. Europeans first came to stay beginning in the early 1800s, mostly to soak in the supposedly healing geothermal waters coming out of Hot Springs Mountain. Others came later to work in the bathhouses or in nearby businesses associated with the bathing industry.

Explore this section to learn more about the people involved in the history of Hot Springs National Park.

You can also read and hear stories about the men and women who worked in the bathhouses as employees, bringing the national park's thermal waters to millions of visitors.

Read about the roles of African Americans in the bathing industry. These are excerpts from an interactive kiosk program at the park visitor center.


Notable Individuals

  • Portait of a young black man, looking slightly to the right and smiling.
    Dr. Timothy L. Bottoms

    Dr. Timothy L. Bottoms (1917-2003) was the Chiropodist, or foot-health specialist, on the staff of the Fordyce Bathhouse in the late 1950s.

  • Up close image of a young man dressed in a park ranger uniform, buttoned jacket and flat hat.
    James A. Cary

    The first park ranger in NPS history to be killed while on duty, on March 12, 1927.

  • Portrait from 1900s, an elderly gentleman with a long beard looks off in the distance.
    Samuel Fordyce

    Businessman and railroad magnate Samuel Wesley Fordyce (1840-1919) was a key figure in the early development and promotion of Hot Springs.

  • A man wearing a ranger uniform on a large horse, circa late 1800s.
    Benjamin F. Kelley

    Benjamin Franklin Kelley (1807-1891) was the first superintendent of Hot Springs Reservation, arriving in October 1877.

  • A gentleman sits in an office at a desk, arms crossed looking straight into the camera.
    Donald S. Libbey

    Donald Smith Libbey (1892-1959) served as Superintendent of Hot Springs National Park three times.

  • Portrait from late 1800s, a young man in a suit with very defined eyebrows looks off to the side.
    William G. Maurice

    St. Louis native William Gilbert Maurice (1859-1927) first came to Hot Springs in 1870. He and his father opened the Maurice Bathhouse.

  • A man with parted long hair to his ears with a stern face looks towards the camera.
    Henry M. Rector

    Henry Massie Rector was a bathhouse owner and politician who presided over Hot Springs's brief period as the state capitol of Arkansas.

  • A gentleman wearing an army uniform from the late 1800s poses for a picture.
    Robert R. Stevens

    Robert Radcliff Stevens (1855-1931) was the career United States Army officer in charge of overall improvement of Hot Springs Reservation.


A female ranger delivers a program near one of the thermal springs.

Learn more about the stories of Hot Springs National Park.

A view into a preserved room from 1918 in the Fordyce Bathhouse.

Learn more about the various museum collections and archives at the Park.

Last updated: July 11, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

101 Reserve Street
Hot Springs, AR 71901


501 620-6715

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