What is: a short hike to the Hot Springs Historic District where you can hike, soak in the springs crystal clear 105°F water, and explore the span of human history along the Rio Grande. It includes the former post office, general store and spa as well as nearby petroglyphs.
What was: In 1909 J.O. Langford , a native Mississippian who contracted malaria and had recurring bouts with this disease, was in the lobby of a hotel in Alpine, Texas. There he heard tales of a spring that would cure anything and everything. Within 2 weeks he obtained the land in West Texas (now Big Bend National Park) under the Homesteaders Act. “Upon his family’s arrival, the Langfords discovered Cleofas Natividad, his wife, and their ten children living and farming on their land. At first the Langfords pondered what to do about these “squatters.” Then, they realized that this land had probably been home to this family for generations. Cleofas turned out to be the best neighbor anyone could have asked for,” said Mr Langsford.
Once J.O. regained his health by taking a 21 day treatment of bathing and drinking the spring water, he opened the springs to other bathers. The cost was 10 cents per day or $2.00 for the whole 21 day treatment. In addition to running the bathhouse, he became a schoolteacher, a self taught doctor, and a postman. The Hot Springs was more than just a place to restore health; it was also a meeting place for people from all walks of life, from both sides of the river. Sources: https://www.nps.gov/bibe/learn/historyculture/hotsprings.htm.
In 1912, the area was vacated because of border unrest with Mexican bandits. They returned 15 years later to rebuild the bathhouse, and to build a store, and motor court. The Hot Springs flourished through the 1930s and early 1940s.The site was the first major tourist attraction in the area, long before the national park was established.