“It would be difficult to write
a convincing ghost story
set on a sunny day in a big city.”
When I look back there will always be certain trips that I remember. The kind of trips that my mom will talk about for years, “Remember when we were in Salem on Halloween and standing at the House of Seven Gables and then it started to snow?”; “Remember when we stayed in your school’s dorm and I heard the ghost?”; “Remember when…”, well, you get the idea. This was one of those trips. *A trip of a lifetime* sounds too dramatic but it was.
I’ve never loved a place more at first site. My love for New Orleans built over the years until it’s one of my favorite places to visit. Eureka Springs won my heart within the first half-hour.
We made the journey as a 2-day 18-hour road trip. All such trips have hiccups. I was traveling with my 75-yr-old mother who has a few accessibility issues but was completely up for this ghostly adventure.
Our first stop driving out to Eureka Springs was in West Virginia to see the Greenbrier Ghost. I’m going to write a separate post about that along with more detailed descriptions of some of our adventures while in the city. This post is more of an overview of our stay; an exhausted me attempting to return to normalcy.
The twists and turns getting to the Crescent Hotel from Eureka Springs are numerous. The hotel website instructs visitors to “follow the red-painted curb of the Historic Loop all the way to the Crescent Hotel (this street will have many right-angle turns).” They weren’t kidding. When we followed the directions, they worked out perfectly. We originally did not follow the directions which delayed our arrival a bit. We had also forgotten about the time change, which worked in our favor.
Eureka Springs is a Victorian resort village which seems to revolve around the 1886 Crescent Hotel. The city has a long history of being a place with healing springs. The American Indians visited the place for sacred purposes and when Europeans visited the location, they also noted the springs having healing powers. This city seems to have more legends than most. I believe we heard the story of Dr. Alvah Jackson at least three different times. In 1856, Dr. Jackson had a son who had been blinded and once his eyes were washed in the spring waters he was able to see. Dr. Jackson set up a hospital during the Civil War and used the waters from one of the springs to treat his patients. He even bottled the waters and sold them as "Dr. Jackson's Eye Water". Since that time, the city has been a major tourist attraction for the region. In fact, one of the guided tours we took noted that 98% of Eureka Springs relies on money from tourism.
The city seemed a bit uncanny because our Haunted Rooms tour at the Crescent Hotel was given by a woman who also worked at a restaurant in city; one of the restaurant workers was also working at the spa; and, one of our ghost tour guides also opened the Intrigue Theater illusionist show. Basically, we kept seeing the same people which was strange but also told me that if you live here you’re probably going to be working multiple jobs to make ends meet.
It was obvious that historic preservation is important there. The City of Eureka Springs itself along with numerous of the Victorian buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. The city has over 60 springs with nearly that many Bed & Breakfast establishments! They use a Tram system for public transportation and for a small-ish city, the public transportation was amazingly beneficial not that we took it very often since the 1886 Crescent Hotel offers a shuttle service to the downtown area. This was great for my mother since nothing in the city is flat. In fact, when I took the Magnolia path from the hotel to downtown, I questioned if I was going to make it. With numerous uneven steps and winding, hilly walkways, it was not a casual stroll but a walk where I really had to pay attention. If I didn’t, I would have fallen off a 6-ft ledge. But let me tell you, it was completely worth it.
The people in Eureka Springs were incredibly friendly from those who worked at the hotel and restaurants to the guy in the “southern” t-shirt who hopped out of his truck, offered us a ride (since Mom was having a difficult time getting down the hill), and who recommended the Grotto Wood Grill & Wine Cave. If he ever reads this post, thanks for the offer and I’m sorry my mother snapped at you about taking rides from strangers.
The food was much better than I would have ever expected for such a small place. The restaurants such as Ermilio’s and the hotel food were delicious and surprisingly vegetarian-friendly although these days I do eat seafood now and then. Overall, the portions everywhere were much too large but that’s more of an American problem that a Eureka Springs one.
The hotel staff including Linda Clark, the concierge was helpful. Betty from Serendipity at the Crescent also gave great recommendations. I believe I had the best manicure and pedicure of my life from Summer at the New Moon Spa.
Everyone told a ghost story; everyone who worked there seemed to believe in the supernatural. I’ll be writing more detailed posts about some of the adventures we had. I’m usually thrilled to be home but today I am tired and feeling a bit melancholy having returned from such an adventure. I'm also processing a great deal and need a bit of time to share my experiences.
I will be writing about how I was *nudged* on the first night (was it a ghost or was I falling asleep?), the terrible dreams I had (which is rare for me to recall any of my dreams and these related a bit too closely to the hotel's history), and how a medium during the Spiritualist portion of the local illusionist show had me walking back to the hotel in tears. I don't want to be a skeptic in life; but, I also don't want to be naive. I've been to a medium who was spot on. I expected that; I did not expect to be pulled out of a crowded audience to receive a message from the Spirit World. If it wasn't real, it would be a pretty mean trick; if it is real, well, I'm still processing.