As in more than 100 years type of a while.
We always knew that the remnants from the old Neptune Spring — one of the four mineral springs on the West Baden Springs Hotel property where guests would "take the waters" in the early 1900s — were lurking beneath, and could possibly be unearthed with a little digging. Well, a few weeks ago we went digging and unearthed some more history.
|An aerial view of the old Neptune Spring before the water and mud were removed, and (below) part of the network of walking paths that were covered in soil and grass for several decades.
So we kept digging….
Once the water was pumped out and layers of mud and sludge were removed, a remarkable piece of the hotel's past reappeared right before our eyes. These are the “guts” of the Neptune Spring, or Spring No. 5 as it was also known back in the day. (West Baden used a clever marketing ruse — their four springs were numbered 1, 3, 5 and 7 to give the impression they outranked French Lick Springs Hotel, which had three mineral water springs.) The steps of this basin used to be surrounded by an intricate wooden structure topped with an “onion” shaped dome.
Our plan is to revitalize the walking paths to the spring, and continue the cleanup of the actual spring area. So in time, this area will hopefully be open to explore. This little area off the beaten path is full of unique history.
It’s mind-bending to think how the descending steps on the sides of this spring basin were made from cut sandstone — would have been quite a chore in the late 1800s. Some of the massive cottonwood and oak trees providing shade here are north of a century old. And those concrete walking paths are impressive in their own right. Most of them are still in decent shape, broken up a bit in cobblestone style of sorts, after being covered by 6-8 inches of soil and grass for several decades.
History certainly permeates every inch of this resort, even
those forgotten, out-of-the-way little corners.