Early Time Line

Development of Eureka Springs — 1879 - 1892
Specific to the Basin Spring Park Area


1879, July 4th -- Christening and naming of Eureka Springs!

Important events of the year 1880 in Eureka Springs were:

1880 Feb 14,– City Incorporation
1880 April, -- Ord #1 (Spring Reservations)
1880 May, -- almost 2000 houses had been constructed

Gen. Clayton Powell became aware of the significance of the founding of Eureka Springs.  It was an era when Spas, or Watering Places as often called, were attracting all classes of citizens who sought healing for their ailments and seeking an escape from crowded cities where contagious diseases were prevalent.  From North and South, well-to-do people sought recreational resorts for their comfort and pleasure as well as healing.

In this regard:

1880 June 26, Powell and some prosperous associates formed the Eureka Springs Railroad Co.

And as other healing springs were being discovered:

1880 Aug 22, – Jennie Cowan discovered Harding Spring
1881 Jan 7, An Ordinance “Publishing the Field Notes of the area around the Eureka Springs Basin and Establishing Spring and Center Streets.”     In some official City documents, the “Basin” is sometimes referred to as the “Old Basin Park Well.”  The “Basin Well” was the central survey point establishing a radius of 100 feet extending out north and south that created the boundary of the circular Park.

1881 L.J. Kalklosch wrote the first History of the Healing Springs and Eureka Springs

Clayton Powell confirmed his interest and administrative abilities by:

1882 Clayton Powell moved to Eureka Springs (born 8-7-1833)
1882 Feb 27,  Powell consolidated ES Rail Road Co with MO line – 18 mile line from Seligman
1882 June 16, An Ordinance “Protecting the Basin Spring Reservation” ( — unlawful for any person or persons to go upon any part of the Basin Spring Reservation or to drive any animal or animals on any part of said reservation.  Policemen and city officials could kill  any dog, rat or cat found inside the present enclosure around the Basin Spring.)
1882, July 5, An Ordinance “Repealing the Right of Way to Southern Hotel to build an elevator on Basin Spring Reservation”
1882 Eureka Springs ranked fourth largest city in Arkansas
1882 “Old Chapultepec” the canon from Mexican War was brought to Eureka Springs  by Powell
1883 Jan,  Railroad construction completed and building of the first RR Depot completed
1883, Nov 3 – First major Fire — 75 houses and businesses were destroyed within a five-acre area lying between Mountain and Eureka streets.

1884 Charles Cutter Guide – History

Clayton Powell had been buying vacant and abandoned properties in addition to select homesteads and lots with dwellings as he proceeded to build the foundation of a signature empire.

1884 May, site selected by Powell for Crescent Hotel at the Summit where Dr. Davis had recommended its construction.

1885 W.W. Johnston – History

Lot ownerships and the official townsite of Eureka Springs had been in litigation for several years.  Clayton Powell, having been a former governor of Arkansas, was a significant profile in bringing about a satisfactory compromise and settlements that benefitted his entrepreneurial group known as the Eureka Springs Improvement Company.

1885 April 6 – Townsite Compromise Decree between ESIC and City
1885 June – An Ordinance, — Basin Spring Reservation as originally surveyed by A.N. Armstrong in July 1879, was re-platted by T. P. German, City Surveyor, on May 19th, 1885, and all the lands were declared public grounds.)
1885 -- Lot donated to the Presbyterian Church by the ES Improvement Co. in accordance with 1885 Compromise

Part of the Compromise settlement was the protection of the Springs and immediate surrounding areas.

1886 Feb 16, – Ord #80 Spring Reservations (— and that no obstructions, buildings or obstacles of any kind be allowed) (Note: Several structures are quite evident in the Basin Reservation area in early photographs)
1886 May – Sanborn Map Series reported a population of 2,800.

Continued progress was made with the opening of the Crescent Hotel

1886 May 1, Crescent Hotel opened under management of G. W. Kittelle – owned by ESIC
1886 May 13, Presbyterian Church corner stone laid
1886 May 20, Crescent Hotel Grand Opening with celebrities and grand party
1886 Aug 12, An Ordinance, “Condemning property that would open and extend Spring St. between Basin Spring Park and Rock House Road”

Women’s groups were also encouraged to participate as they added significant qualities to Community Welfare and Living conditions as well as Beatification, Health, and Cultural amenities.

1886 Sep 11 – Fund raiser for the Carnegie Public Library at the Crescent
1886 Nov, 3rd Sunday – Presbyterian Church dedicated by Rev. W.B. McElwee
1886 – Organization of the Ladies United Relief Association – Powell’s wife Adaline elected  Pres (LURA) which operated the Turlock Cottage for homeless and started a small hospital

Calamities brought disaster as well as opportunities as some properties were  bought and some were condemned for progress such as the construction of roads, bridges, retaining walls of stone as well as stone being used for new building construction.

1888 Winter  2nd major FireReportedly, originating from the Hancock House (near current New Orleans Hotel), the undaunted flames proceeded down Spring Street toward Main Street,
       Wollery reported – “from Calif Spring to the Presbyterian Church” (480 houses destroyed)
1880s late - early 1890s – 54 miles of stone walls built–  from Beaver White River stone quarry
1889 May 6, An Ordinance, “It became unlawful for any person to hitch, stop or leave standing any horse, team, or stock of any kind or to stop, stand or leave standing any vehicle of any kind or for any person to play with ball, marbles or lots;  for the distance of one hundred feet North and East of the Basin Spring along and over both sides of Spring Street, and for the distance of one hundred and seventy-five feet South and West of the Basin Spring and along and on both sides of Spring Street.”

Realizing the importance of the Basin Spring and its central location, the ES Improvement Co. promoted a major redesign and aesthetic development to create the Basin Spring Circle as progress was also being accomplished by widening and raising some of the principal thoroughfares for traffic and transit services.

1890 Mar 15, An Ordinance, “Municipal money appropriated to Improve Basin Park”  ($2,500 was appropriated for the Improvement of the Basin Spring Reservation Park)
1890 Nov1– 3rd major Fire — The 60-room Perry House, while Mr. Lamar, the hotel chef, was cooking, the hotel caught fire. The flames jumped across Spring Street down the hill northward burning all including the Conner’s Hotel (Grand Central Hotel location).  The conflagration also spread south of Main and Spring streets burning all buildings to include the Hughes House.
1891 – Trolley transit established as a Mule driven Car-Line
1891–  Franchised ES Electric Light and Street Railway Co.
1892 Sept – Sanborn Map Series reported a population of 4,000.
1892 – 4th major Fire burned from the intersection of Main & Spring streets, southward to the Calif Spring area (now the ES Historical Museum).


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