Friday, September 30, 2016

Let's Go Muddin' - Spa-Style

By Joy Neighbors
Bust of Cleopatra
Today is National Mud Pack Day - the perfect excuse to go to the spa! Mud packs (and facials) have been popular since Cleopatra’s time. This Egyptian pharaoh was considered to have been the most beautiful woman during her lifetime and for centuries after her death. Her beauty rituals included milk baths, sea salt facials and body scrubs, and a grape facial with a rose-water rinse.

Take some time out to celebrate the day at one of our two outstanding resort spas and experience pampering at its most luxurious. Mud packs, and all facials, are great for supple skin and provide anti-oxidants that boost skin collagen and increase cell turnover.

The Spa at French Lick offers a dozen facial treatments including those that calm and clarify the skin along with specialties such as the Hydra Facial, Hungarian Facial and the Gentlemen’s Facial. And don’t forget body wraps, scrubs and baths are also great ways to cleanse, smooth and renew your skin. Plus, we offer a Signature Pluto Bath that has been available at the hotel since the 1920s.

The Spa at West Baden has its own serene series of facial offerings that include a Brightening Facial, Ossential Stimulator Facial and a Microdermabrasion Facial. Body treatments include a Scrumptious Body Scrub and a Moroccan Rhassoul Clay Wrap – much more exquisite than mud.

To discover more exhilarating treatments and spa experiences, check out all the options available in our Spas of French Lick Resort brochure.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tourism Makes the World Go 'Round

By Joy Neighbors
Today is World Tourism Day - a day set aside to emphasize the importance of tourism along with culture, political, economic and social values experienced around the world. Each World Tourism Day has a special theme and this year’s is “Tourism for All.”
The date of September 27th was established in 1980 by United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and is celebrated globally each year. The selection of the event to be held in late September is appropriate because it comes at the end of the tourist season in the northern hemisphere and the beginning of the tourist season in the southern hemisphere.
Tourism ranks fourth, worldwide, in the export category, right behind fuels, chemicals and automotive products. In 1950, 25 million people traveled internationally. By 2012, that number had reached one billion travelers and is projected to hit 1.8 billion by 2030.
Whether you’re a tourist or a tourism business, it's no surprise that tourism is big! Tourism allows people to travel to places they’ve always dreamed of and to stay in locations they’ve always wanted to see.
West Baden Springs Hotel
French Lick Springs Hotel
If French Lick Resort is on your bucket list, there’s no better time than now to come and experience Indiana’s autumnal beauty, soak up our luxurious atmosphere, dine in elegance and sophistication, and rendezvous at two of the most historic and beautiful grand hotels in the country. Our dedicated staff will make your trip memorable and you’ll discover old-world luxury, modern comforts and Midwestern charm reside here.
If you’ve been to the resort before, we gladly welcome you back with old favorites and new surprises. Either way, plan now to enjoy our autumn splendor on a hiking trail, a hayride or on horseback. Wanting to experience life at a slower pace? Rock the quiet hours away on one of our spacious verandas as the autumn leaves drift down. One visit and you’ll understand why autumn is exceptional at French Lick Resort.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Girls Are Back in Town: Celebrate Elephant Appreciation Day

By Joy Neighbors
Today is Elephant Appreciation Day. Locals will understand the affection felt for these noble beasts, thanks to the area’s deep connections with the Hagenbeck and Wallace Circus, once owned by West Baden Springs Hotel owner Ed Ballard.
Today elephants are making their home here again, this time at Wilstem Ranch east of town. Three African elephants are vacationing here until October 30th when they will become snowbirds of a sort and travel down to Florida –their winter home.
Wilstem Ranch, located between West Baden and French Lick offers a chance for the public to get up close and personal with the three girls during the “Elephant Encounters.” The ranch is owned by Jerry and Carolyn Fuhs but it too once belonged to Ed Ballard.

Wilstem Ranch
It was rumored that this was where Ballard entertained his famous friends, offering them a place to escape from the public, and in some cases, the police. Al Capone supposedly stayed at the ranch on several occasions – once on his honeymoon.
The Fuhs decided several years ago that they wanted to be around African elephants so they began touring the country in search of the right animals and owners. Enter Jorge and Lou Ann Barrida and their three girls; Makia, Lou and Lovie. These three elephants grew up together, are pets and love people, which made them perfect for the ranch.
The girls spend eight months of the year (March through October) near French Lick before traveling back to Sarasota, Florida to enjoy the warmer climate for four months (November - February.)
Meet the Girls
There are three elephants at Wilstem Ranch and each has her own delightful personality.
Makia is 42-years-old and reigns as the matriarch of the group. The Barrida’s got her when she was 13 from a national park in South Africa. She weighs more than 10,000 pounds and is extremely patient. Makia’s intelligence is obvious to visitors as she watches the crowd and waves her trunk to those she knows or likes.

Lou is 32-years-old and is being groomed by Makia to become the next matriarch. Lou is calm and steady. She loves the spa routine – in fact, she actually rumbles, a sound that is much like a kitten’s purr of pleasure.  Lou is contented enough that she might doze during her bath but she quickly lifts a foot when it’s time for her pedicure. Lou also has a sense of humor and enjoys playing jokes.
Lovie is also 32-years-old but was born with only one tusk. She’s the “kid” of the group and loves to play practical jokes. It’s not unusual for her to swipe a visitor’s sunglasses or remove a piece of jewelry that she likes but she always returns the items to their owners.

Experience an Elephant Encounter
Jorge Barrida, Makia and Jerry Fuhs
The Elephant Encounter is a one-of-a-kind experience. There are two types of sessions offered; the Educational Seminar and The Spa, which includes the seminar.
An Educational Seminar
Educational seminars last one hour and provide visitors with interesting facts about the three girls, and elephants in general. Visitors can ask questions, pet the elephants and take photos and selfies with them. These sessions are a wealth of knowledge. In 30 minutes you’ll learn that the girls eat over 200 pounds of hay each day and drink over 100 gallons of water. An elephant has between 40,000 and 100,000 muscles in its trunk and those gorgeous eye lashes can grow up to 12-inches long – the longest lashes of any animal – and there’s so much more to learn.
Brushing Tusks
For the more adventurous, book a spa appointment and be a part of the bath and pedicure treatments. The Spa takes an hour and visitors get to interact with the elephants. However, each spa is limited to 30 people, so book early.

Lou Gets a Bath
The session begins with visitors assisting the owners in wetting down one of the elephants before scrubbing her with a special shampoo made just for these girls to condition and help cleanse their skin. Once the shampoo has been rinsed off, it’s time for a pedicure. Visitors apply mineral oil with a paint brush to help keep those toenails conditioned for all the digging in the elephants do in the earth for minerals. Two sessions are scheduled each day.
Makia Heads Out to the Mud
Once the spa is over, visitors get the chance to touch the elephants and pose for photos. Adults and children alike were emphatic with their pleasure and excitement of getting to visit with these beautiful girls. When their fans are satisfied, the girls are allowed out to wander their 10-acre field. After stopping to pose for a group elephant photo opportunity, Makia heads for her favorite mud hole while Lou and Lovie nibble on hay before heading down the hill for an afternoon of fun - elephant style.
Trip Details
Elephant Encounters are held twice daily Tuesdays through Saturdays. (There are no sessions on Mondays.) The Spa begins at 9:30 a.m. and again at 3 p.m. each day with the educational session following at 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sundays the spas begin at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.
The girls are here until October 30; don’t miss a chance to see them up close. For more information contact Wilstem Ranch at or call (812) 936-4484.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Buffalo Trace: The Frontiersmen’s Inland Highway

By Joy Neighbors
The Buffalo Trace, also known as the Vincennes Trace, was a major thoroughfare that ran through a 3-state area. The Trace was created by millions of American bison migrating from the salt licks of Kentucky to just south of Vincennes where massive herds crossed the Wabash River into the wide open prairies of the Illinois frontier. This bison migration route was the most important of the early Indiana trails and led to westward settlement.

The trace was called “lenaswihkanawea” (bison trail) by American Indians. The bison were especially drawn to the French Lick area due to the abundant salt and mineral licks that provided them (and early settlers) with necessary nutrients and minerals. In the early 1700s, American settlers discovered this hard packed route was broad enough for two wagons to pass, making travel through the rough terrain easier. It became the primary route from Louisville to Vincennes and was traveled by two-thirds of the pioneers going west.  

William Henry Harrison
The 19th century brought several amenities along the trace; the first western mail route was established from Louisville to Vincennes to Kaskaskia, near St. Louis, in 1800. In 1802, Governor William Henry Harrison of Indiana Territory, requested the trail be made more convenient for pioneers by providing protective sites along the way. By 1804, the Buffalo Trace was so well known Governor Harrison used it as a treaty boundary line with the Indians. The first stagecoach service in the state also began along this route, traveling from New Albany to Vincennes. When Indiana became a state in 1816, a bison was chosen to appear on the Seal of the State of Indiana to honor the heritage of the Buffalo Trace.

Known by several names (Buffalo Trail, Old Indian Road, Harrison’s Road, Clarksville Trace, Vincennes Trace, Louisville Trace and Kentucky Road), the Buffalo Trace embodies our state’s legacy, and the grit and perseverance of our citizens. Indiana’s Bicentennial Celebration proudly spotlights the Buffalo Trace, honoring its important role in Hoosier history and westward expansion; guiding its people, state and country into a new frontier, and a new era.
Today, parts of the Trace can be seen south of French Lick along the Springs Valley Trail System. A segment of U.S. Route 150 and the Buffalo Trace were designated as part of the Indiana Historic Pathways in 2009. There are 112 miles along U.S. Route 150 that coexist with the original Buffalo Trace route.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Remembering The Plutos: French Lick’s Baseball Team

By Joy Neighbors
Dateline: Summer 1912 – 1914
Ah summer – the crack of the bat, the cheers of the crowds – baseball was in full swing once again. But now that West Baden Springs Hotel owner Lee Sinclair had his own hotel baseball team, rival hotel owner Tom Taggart decided to introduce a team from French Lick Springs Hotel – The Plutos.
Named after the hotel’s mascot – a red devil said to resemble Pluto, ruler of the underworld – the team was made up of local hotel staff. The Plutos (also known as the Red Devils) were an early Independent Negro League baseball club that entertained guests and locals alike. The club began in 1912 and played countless games against their “rivals” – the West Baden Sprudels with some games played at Pluto Park and others at the Sprudels’s ballfield located inside the double decker bicycle track at West Baden Springs Hotel.
During the three years the Plutos existed, the club played 62 games, winning 23, losing 37 and tying only two times. From 1912 – 1914, the closest the team placed in the Western Independent Clubs was 6th in 1913. The top hitters and pitchers for each of the three years were as follows:
Dicta Johnson
The 1912, Plutos were managed by H. P. Warmack. The top hitter was James “Big Jim” Norman and the top pitcher was Louis “Dicta” Johnson, known for his spitball.
In 1913, Sam Gordon took on managerial duties for the team. Henry “Mack” McLaughlin was the top hitter and James Lynch the top pitcher.

Sam Gordon
For their final year, Gordon continued to manage and Arthur Gilliard was named top pitcher.
The most popular team members for the team’s three year duration were:
Todd Allen – 3rd baseman (1914)

Mule Armstrong

George Isaac “Mule” Armstrong – Catcher (1912)

William “Bingo” Bingham – Outfielder (1914)
Sam Crow – Infielder (1914)
Elwood “Bingo” DeMoss – 2nd baseman (1912 – 1914)
Dizzy Dismukes
William “Dizzy” Dismukes – Pitcher who also played for the WB Sprudels (1913)
Henry Hannon Jr. – Outfielder – 1913 - 1914
Dan Kennard – Catcher – (1913 – 1914)
Harry Moore – Utility player (1913)

When the Plutos dissolved, team members spread out around the Midwest taking positions on numerous Independent Negro League teams. In 1920, the Negro National League was formed and professional Black baseball became a force to reckon with.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

History is Made as Bicentennial Torch Travels Through French Lick Resort

By Joy Neighbors

Tom Taggart's Rolls

The Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay made its way through Orange County today amid tears and cheers in a sojourn that lasted about an hour at French Lick Resort.

The iconic torch entered resort property on board a 1927 Rolls Royce originally owned by Tom Taggart and driven by Transportation Director, Alan Beck with Bill Harris, Springs Valley Hall of Fame Coach, bearing the flame.

It was then taken aboard the 1930 rail trolley by Marilyn Kessler – a retired employee of over 30 years and traveled the rails with seventeen senior resort employees who had a combined 644 years of resort service between them; all were chosen to ride with the torch on the trolley motored by Sheryl Yeadon.

Golf Director, Dave Harner conveyed the torch up Mt Airie Road on the trolley bus driven by Gene Breedlove, Livery Supervisor. The road trolley stopped at the 17th hole on the Pete Dye Course and the torch was passed to Jackie Carnes who carried it in honor of her father, the late Jack Carnes, a 44-year employee of the resort.

Chris Leininger
Steve Ferguson
The torch arrived as West Baden Springs Hotel among much fanfare before being lofted through the domed atrium by Chairman of Cook Group, Steve Ferguson and Sales Director, Adina Cloud. Awaiting the torch on the hotel’s historic front steps was French Lick Resort COO, Chris Leininger, who carried the flame down the steps and out to a waiting 1926 Model T driven by Resort Transportation Manager Sam Ray.

Jeff Lane
Under the memorable hotel arches, the torch was passed to Orange County Historian and Resort Archivist, Jeff Lane, traveling in a 1931 Model A driven by Rex Hinkle, Vice President of Cook Aviation. From there, the Bicentennial Torch relay continued its historic journey east on State Road 56/150 to Paoli and on through the state.

Here's a video of the event.

Remembering the Sprudels: West Baden’s Baseball Team

By Joy Neighbors

Dateline: Summer 1910 - 1916

Lee Sinclair
Baseball Diamond Inside Track
Around the turn of the 20th century, baseball was gaining in popularity. Lee Sinclair always made sure that his West Baden Springs Hotel stayed up with the times, so the introduction of a baseball diamond inside the new double decker bicycle track was right on target. Sinclair had the field illuminated with electric lights for evening games, making it the perfect place for major league teams to practice, and practice they did. Professional teams that played at West Baden included the St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers, Milwaukee Brewers and the Indianapolis ABCs.

West Baden Sprudels
But Sinclair didn’t wait for major league teams come to town to entertain guests; he made sure his hotel had its own semi-professional baseball team, the West Baden Sprudels; a team that could give the professionals “a run for their money.”

The Sprudels were one of the early Negro teams and played as an independent club owned by Burnett- Pollard-Rogers Baseball Club Company. The name came from Sprudel, the legendary gnome said to guard Wiesbaden Spring in Germany. Adopted as the hotel mascot, Sprudel was featured on the Rookwood fireplace in the hotel atrium and was also the name given the “healthy” spring water bottled and sold by the hotel.

Charles Isham (C.I.) Taylor managed the semi-professional Sprudels from 1910 – 1913. C.I. was one of four Taylor brothers who traveled together around the country playing baseball. On the West Baden team – C.I. (the oldest) was manager, brother “Steel Arm” John Taylor was a pitcher, “Candy” Jim Taylor played 3rd base while brother Ben Taylor was 1st baseman for the Sprudels. The brothers were known as the Famous Taylors.

C.I. Taylor was considered one of the two greatest baseball managers of all time - someone who brought out the best in his players. He began his career in 1904 as a player/manger with the Birmingham Giants before becoming manager of the West Baden Sprudels in 1910. He managed the resort’s baseball team until 1913 when he moved part of the club (mainly his brothers) to Indy to become the Indianapolis ABCs in 1914. When the Negro National League was formed in 1920, Taylor was installed as the league’s vice president; a position he served in until his death in 1922.

"Steel Arm" John Taylor
From 1910 – 1916, the Sprudels played a total of 141 games, winning 59, losing 79 and tied for three. The team did not win any league pennants or World Series games. From 1910 – 1915, the closest the team placed in the Western Independent Clubs was 4th in 1911 and 1914.

The most famous players for the team were:
"Iron Man" Dismukes

Morten Clark – Shortstop (1910, 1912-1913)

Elwood “Bingo” DeMoss – 2nd Baseman (1912, 1914)

William “Iron Man” Dismukes – Picher (1910 – 1913)

George “Chappie” Johnson – Catcher, 1st baseman, manager (1915)
"Candy" Jim Taylor

Ben Taylor – 1st basemen (1910, 1912-1913) Youngest of the Taylor brothers

“Candy” Jim Taylor – 3rd baseman (1915) Next to youngest Taylor brother

"Rabbit" Shively
“Steel Arm” John Boyce Taylor – Pitcher (1910, 1912-1913) 2nd oldest of the Taylor brothers

George “Rabbit” Shively – Left fielder (1911 – 1913)

Andrew “String Bean” Williams – Pitcher (1910, 1913 – 1914)

Although the hotel had had a baseball team since the late 1890s, the semi-professional Sprudels put West Baden on the “sports map” for several years. Guests, and locals, enjoyed visiting the resort and catching a game, night or day, with the chance to cheer on their favorite team - the West Baden Sprudels.