History of French Lick & West Baden
Nineteenth-century health seekers weren’t the first people to flock to French Lick and West Baden Springs to “take the waters.” Before spa-goers and vacationers discovered the area, buffalo and other game wore paths to the vast salt lick created by the residue of the area’s mineral springs. Indians and pioneer hunters followed the birds and game. Explorer George Rogers Clark, traveling from the Ohio River to Vincennes in 1778, often gets credit for “discovering” the area’s mineral springs and salt licks.
In the mid-nineteenth century, with the science of medicine in its infancy and medical education non-existent, people believed the sulphur-infused waters could cure a host of ailments and diseases. By the 1830s, the supposed curative powers of the mineral springs drew visitors and created a market for hotels. By the turn of the century, the area’s attractions had expanded, with the full-service resorts in the side-by-side towns of French Lick and West Baden Springs offering a variety of entertainments, golf and other sports, as well as spa-related health treatments. More than 20 smaller hotels catered to those who couldn’t afford the high-priced resorts. Seven rail lines brought guests from all over the U.S. to the Springs Valley to relax and take the cure.
French LickWest Baden Springs