Public Health

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Entry Category: Public Health - Starting with G

Government Free Bathhouse

The Government Free Bathhouse in Hot Springs (Garland County) provided free baths to the indigent, sick, and injured who sought access to the local thermal springs, which were thought to have medicinal properties. Spurred into existence by an act of Congress in 1878, the free bathhouse operated until 1957. In 1832, the federal government made the hot springs of Arkansas a federal reservation Businesses arose to offer food, lodging, and entertainment, but access to the water was free. After the Civil War, businesses tried to take ownership of the hot water. This enraged visitors, who felt that everyone had a right to access the water for no charge. On December 16, 1878, Congress passed compromise legislation that reaffirmed federal ownership …