History of Hot Springs
Hot Springs is located at the confluence of the French Broad River and Spring Creek. A natural hot spring is also located here, the only such spring known in North Carolina and in much of the southeastern United States. Thus, this area haslong since been a destination for those looking for therapeutic relief from their ailments.
Native Americans were the first to discover the 100+ degree mineral waters, and European immigrants settled the area over 200 years ago. It is reported that people were visiting the springs by 1778 for the waters' reported healing properties. In 1828, a major road was constructed through the current town, the Buncombe Turnpike, making the area more accessible.
By 1831, James Patton of Asheville bought the springs and had erected 350 room Warm Springs Hotel with its 13 tall columns representing the 13 original colonies in 1837. The dining room of this large hotel could seat 600 people. The railroad reached the village - then called Warm Springs - in 1882. The hotel burned in 1884 after 46 years of operation. Another hotel, called the Mountain Park, was built in 1886.A higher temperature spring was found, prompting the changing of the town's name from Warm Springs to Hot Springs in 1886. Sixteen marble pools were surrounded by landscaped lawns with croquet and tennis courts, and it was know as one of the most lavish resorts in the Southeast.
By May 1917, the hotel and grounds were leased to the US Government to be used as an internment camp. That hotel burned in 1920, and two more were built - neither as large and opulent and both later burned as well.Today, the springs are privately owned as The Hot Springs Resort and Spa. Water is piped to outdoor tubs beside the French Broad River and Spring Creek.
The town itself is popular as a modern tourist destination, for aside from the springs, outdoor recreation is abundant in the area.The Appalachian Trail runs along downtown's Bridge Street and climbs the mountains on either side of the river. Rafting and kayaking is popular on the French Broad River itself. There are numerous other hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, and sightseeing opportunities in the nearby Pisgah National Forest.