New Documentary on Three Sisters Springs

Zoie Clift
A new documentary film, McFadden Springs, A Brief History was recently
produced by Jon McEarl of Hot Springs.  McEarl completed the documentary
project during his National Park Community College internship at Lake Ouachita
State Park
.  After months of research and videoed interviews with people
that lived during the 1920s to the 1940s at McFadden Springs, the project
entered into its editing stage with the assistance of Doug Lackey. McEarl is currently involved in the renovation and soon reopening of the
historic Central Theater in downtown Hot Springs.  Also, he is currently
researching and developing another film about the lives of Mountain Township that encompassed Buckville, Avant and other communities that were flooded by the creation of Blakely Dam. Next Wed. (Oct. 27) at 2 p.m. the documentary will
premier at the park and McEarl will be given the Director’s Special Commendation. For more
information, call 501-767-9366.
As to a history of the springs,
in 1875 John McFadden claimed three springs on his property near Hot Springs
had healing properties.  The springs’ name, “Three Sisters,” is  thought to be derived from the fact
that McFadden had three daughters. A few years later the land was taken over by John W. Mooney because Mr. McFadden failed to
homestead it.
In 1904 Robert Hill purchased the land and the springs remained open pools of
water around which visitors pitched their tents. Three years later Hill sold out to W.M.
Cecil and partners. Cecil eventually bought out the other partners and
built McFadden’s Three Sisters Springs Resort. In the 1930s many tourist facilities
were available including a bottling plant and springhouse.  Cecil also
distributed this bottled water throughout the nation. He called it the
World’s Wonder Waters claiming each spring could cure a different set of
diseases. The property was eventually sold to Roy Wipple and in 1951 the US
Army Corps of Engineers acquired the land in conjunction with the Lake Ouachita
construction project. The following year Blakely Mountain Dam construction was completed and gates were closed to
begin filling the lake. This land is owned
by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and in 1955, 360 acres was leased to the
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.  This area was selected to
become a state park ( Lake Ouachita State Park) in hopes to preserve the
historical significance of Three Sisters Springs. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas History Commission. 




Posted in Travel Arkansas
2 comments on “New Documentary on Three Sisters Springs
  1. cyndi rup says:

    I’m fascinated with mineral waters and mineral springs and their use. I’ll be in Hot Springs in a little over a week. Can I drink the Three Sisters Spring waters?

  2. Zoie Clift says:

    Hi Cyndi–I am glad to hear you will be in Hot Springs soon! No, the water at Three Sisters Spring is not fit for drinking–it is mainly a historical site now. However there is spring water in Hot Springs you can drink.

    If you visit Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs National Park, you’ll probably see folks filling up their water jugs at numerous fountains. This is natural spring water and you can drink it. According to the NPS, these hot water “jug fountains” are located at Libbey Memorial Physical Medicine Center on Reserve Street, at the National Park Service Administration Building on Reserve Street, at Hill Wheatley Plaza on Central Avenue, and between the Hale and Maurice Bathhouses on Bathhouse Row. You may also drink the hot springs’ water at the Noble Fountain on Reserve Avenue (at the south entrance of the Grand Promenade) and at the Dripping Spring between the Hale and Maurice Bathhouses.

    The park does not claim the water is curative, but the park does certify that it is safe to drink. And the government still protects the springs.

    Hope this helps! Zoie

Add a Comment