The story below is an excerpt from our Jan./Feb. 2016 issue. For the rest of this story and more like it subscribe today, view our digital edition or download our FREE iOS app!
Back in the 1860s, there were about 70 resorts in the North Carolina and Tennessee mountains—all capitalizing on the “healing waters” bubbling out of the grounds around them.
The waters were believed to have healing powers and were said to cure rheumatism, gout, sciatica, joint disease and stomach disorders, as well as bowel and kidney disorders, bladder and pelvic troubles and ailments of the liver.
Beginning with the Hot Springs in North Carolina, discovered by scouts in 1778, up to the present day, there have been efforts to utilize the healing properties of the spring waters of the Smoky Mountains.
Today, spring water from English Mountain is bottled and sold in many outlets and is advertised as, “The best tasting water in the world.” English Mountain water is said to be freestone, or free of the heavy doses of minerals found in many springs.
Back in the mid-1800s, there were “red springs” “black springs,” yellow, freestone, chalybeate (iron), epsom, arsenic and alum springs. The “black” springs contained magnesia and hydrogen sulphide. If you put a silver coin in these waters it would quickly turn black, thus the name.
Local promoters suggested that, “[t]he black water spring has decided medicinal properties. The combination of magnesia with the hydrogen sulphide present make it especially good water for gastro-intestinal troubles.”
Ads boasted that “Red springs have a high sulfur content and water from a red spring is an especially good diuretic, being used with great success in diseases of the urinary tract such as Bright’s disease, diabetes, hemorrhages from the kidneys or bladder, stone in the kidneys or bladder, cystitis and rheumatism."