Modern Day Sodom and Gomorrah?
Hot Springs Fire of Sept. 5, 1913
Photo Postcard Courtesy of Donna Smith
Genesis 19:24; Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah from the Lord out of the heavens.New International Version
Hot Springs has suffered through 3 devastating fires – in 1878, 1905 and 1913. Was this fate or providential wrath? Was sin city, Little Las Vegas being judged?
March 5, 1878 – The fire started after midnight on the east side of Central Avenue. A lamp was turned over in Greenleaf’s Bagnio, a shady business claiming to be a bathhouse. By the time the horse-drawn fire engines arrived, the fire had spread. Firemen and volunteers could not draw enough water out of muddy Hot Springs Creek to bring the fire under control. Soon, sparks had spread to the west side of Central Avenue and the fire was headed north toward the Arlington Hotel.
The Arlington and some main bathhouses were spared, but the fire burned for 12 hours. Legend has it that all of the town’s licensed saloons were destroyed, as well as the newspaper office, the Post Office, three drug stores and the Court House.
February 26, 1905 - The fire started after midnight in the Grand Central Hotel on Chapel Street. Before this fire burned itself out, it consumed 40 square blocks, including the homes of more than 2,000 residents. Also gone were 3 hotels, the Court House and the jail.
September 5, 1913 – A laundress on Church Street left a shirt hanging too close to a charcoal burner, and by 2 pm the alarm sounded. Fifty blocks, 1,000 buildings and 2,500 homeless tell the story. Hot Springs lost the Park Hotel, the Ozark Sanitarium, the high school, the electric power plant and the newly rebuilt Court House.
By now the Spa City had suffered major economic setbacks. To restore their lost prosperity, many of the businessmen decided to revive horse racing (gambling) in the area.
Three devastating fires within a 35-year time span. Judgment of God or bad luck?
Dr. RandoPhD of Wit
Information courtesy of The American Spa by Dee Brown.
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