"The Eighth Wonder of the World" West Baden Springs by Dabs
West Baden Springs Travel Guide: 12 reviews and 25 photos
OK, perhaps this is not the eighth wonder of the world as it is lovingly billed by the people who promote it. But for those of you that have been to southern Indiana (and even if you haven't), I'm sure that you will agree with me that is it quite astonishing that it was ever built given it's location.
In 1901, a fire destroyed the original hotel and the grand building that stands there now was built and opened for business in 1902. The rebuilt hotel had 700 rooms that cost from $2-$12, a lot of money in 1902, I imagine I would have been in the $2 rooms. There were natural mineral springs used for bathing and drinking, it was advertised that drinking the water would cure a number of illnesses.
The grounds were extensive, guests could enjoy golf, horseback riding, bowling, billiards, swimming, hiking, and theater. Professional baseball teams came here to do their spring training. There was a double decker track for pony carts and bicycles, it was demolished by a tornado in the 1920s and never rebuilt.
It was rumored that Al Capone was among the many celebrity guests.
The Great Depression in 1929 did the hotel in and in 1934 it was sold to the Jesuits who removed much of the ornamental design. Ownership transferred to the Northwoods Institute in 1966 and after several more owners, the Historic Landmarks Foundation bought it in 1996. A wealthy philanthropist named Cook who lives in nearby Bloomington donated $30 million thus far for the renovations.
When we visited West Baden Springs on a very long daytrip from home, it was not a functioning resort but we were ablet ot our the grounds. As of May, 2007, the hotel is once more open for visitors, a rather grand place to stay in a very unlikely place, 2 hours south of Indianapolis. Although the drive from Chicago to Indianapolis is not much to speak of, the ride from Indy to French Lick is quite splendid especially in the fall when the colors are changing or in the spring when the flowering trees are blossoming.
Across the street from the West Baden Springs Hotel is this lovely limestone church more travel advice
Unfortunately my only photo is one that is obscured by trees, after the tour ended I had planned on going back out for... more travel advice
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