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The Magic of Hot Springs Arkansas

Hot Springs National Park has an especially unique and storied past. From the ancient thermal springs, to the plethora of mineral deposits, to the grand architecture of historic Bathhouse Row, to the infamous gangster connections from the days of old, this place is truly one of a kind. All of this rich history is set in a beautiful landscape of forested mountains with gentle slopes, babbling creeks, and abundant hiking trails.

Buy Arkansas Crystal It's About Rocks

Arkansas has long been known as a veritable ‘Rockhound’s paradise.” Geologically, Arkansas contains some of the richest and most unique terrain in the continental U.S. 

 

Diamonds, quartz crystal, amethyst, opals, turquoise, manganese, freshwater pearls, amber, petrified wood, agate, bauxite, jasper, garnet, galena, wavellite, cinnabar, antimony, diopside, epidote, apatite, sphene, novaculite, and more have all been mined within the state of Arkansas! 

Natural Riches

Hot Springs National Park is located in the heart of an area heavily saturated with some of the best gem and mineral mines this country has to offer! You’ll find Ron Coleman’s Crystal mine to the north of Hot Springs, in nearby Jessieville. A short drive west from Hot Springs brings you to Mt. Ida, where several mines are located, including Avant, Wegner, Twin Creek, and Avatar mines. Another short drive south of Hot Springs will bring you to Murfreesboro, home of Crater of Diamonds State Park!

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Healing Waters

President Andrew Jackson designated Hot Springs as the first federal reservation in 1832. This predates the founding of Yellowstone National Park by 40 years, which technically makes Hot Springs the oldest national park, though it wasn’t officially titled as such until 1921.

 

People were drawn to the healing waters long before America was colonized. It is estimated that natives have been enjoying these miraculous springs since around 12,000 B.C, though the first documentation of it was 1771. A French explorer, Jean-Bernard Bossu, wrote after a visit with the Quapaw Indians: “The Akanças country is visited very often by western Indians who come here to take baths,” because the hot, mineral- rich waters “are highly esteemed by native physicians who claim that they are so strengthening.”

President Andrew Jackson designated Hot Springs as the first federal reservation in 1832. This predates the founding of Yellowstone National Park by 40 years, which technically makes Hot Springs the oldest national park, though it wasn’t officially titled as such until 1921.

 

People were drawn to the healing waters long before America was colonized. It is estimated that natives have been enjoying these miraculous springs since around 12,000 B.C, though the first documentation of it was 1771. A French explorer, Jean-Bernard Bossu, wrote after a visit with the Quapaw Indians: “The Akanças country is visited very often by western Indians who come here to take baths,” because the hot, mineral- rich waters “are highly esteemed by native physicians who claim that they are so strengthening.”

You may have heard a bit of Hot Springs colorful history before, such as how Al Capone used to stay at the Arlington Hotel, and how Babe Ruth hit a Record breaking home run into the Alligator Farm. Hot springs is the birthplace of Spring Training for Major League Baseball, and hosted quite a few famous national teams for several years. This is one of the more innocent claims to fame of the area. 

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Hot Springs Arkansas History

Hot Springs was also the epicenter of illegal gambling, beginning in the days just after the Civil War. This nefarious business was so entrenched, even the local law enforcement was on the payroll. The years between 1927–1947 were the peak of this period in Hot Springs’ history, and during these years, no less than ten major casinos and numerous minor gambling houses ran openly, which made it the largest such operation in the United States at the time. Eventually, the right people were prosecuted, with indictments falling upon all local major political and law enforcement offices. In 1967, Governor Winthrop Rockefeller sent Arkansas State Troopers to finally shut down the illegal gambling ring. This left the only two legal gambling establishments open in Arkansas, OakLawn Park, a thoroughbred racing track in Hot Springs, and Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis. Both of these establishments are still open to this day, though Southland no longer holds dog races. 

As one can imagine, during these years Hot Springs attracted an extravagant, albeit unsavory crowd. Yet, there is definitely more to The Valley of the Vapors, and this part of history is just a small but interesting fraction of the wonders found here.

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Arkansas Quartz Hot Springs Arkansas Store
A History of Quartz

Central Arkansas is home to the largest Quartz crystal deposits in the United States. The Ouachita Mountains, which run through central Arkansas, are also said to be home to some of the clearest, largest, and most pristine Quartz crystals in the whole world. Quartz is a piezoelectric mineral, which means it produces a constant, measurable electric charge when pressure is applied.

During World War II, Arkansas quartz’s piezoelectricity and clarity made it a highly sought after industrial product, and it was used in everything from bombsights to wristwatches. These days, most quartz used for industrial purposes is synthetic, however, New Age practitioners familiar with Quartz’s piezoelectric and metaphysical properties want their tools to come straight from the Earth. Many people who feel in-tune with the metaphysical aspects of crystals claim to be able to feel the energy of a Quartz specimen when squeezed within their hand. 

 

Quartz, or silica (SiO2), is a hard, brittle, durable mineral, and is the fourth strongest material on earth after diamond, sapphire, and topaz. It occurs in nature in many varieties, but is best known from Arkansas as prismatic, elongate, transparent, vitreous crystals. The knowledge of Quartz crystal in the Ouachita mountains was held by the first humans to traverse the area, and projectile points formed of chipped Quartz crystal were found by early explorers. Most of the quartz veins are found throughout a 30 to 40 mile wide belt that corresponds to the core region of the Ouachita Mountains. The Quartz crystals were deposited by hot, mineral-rich water during the last stages of mountain formation, some 280 to 245 million years ago. Other minerals are also common to this area, such as Smoky Quartz, which can be found in Magnet Cove. These crystals are a darker color due to radioactivity that irradiated the crystal during or shortly after its formation. Several different types of Quartz are found locally, including Amethyst, which is a purple-hued Quartz, and Citrine, a yellow to brownish colored crystal.

 

Quartz Crystal is widely known as “The Master Healer” within the New Age community. Quartz does have scientifically measurable properties that make it unique among minerals, the most striking of which is piezoelectricity. The piezoelectric effect is the appearance of an electrical voltage across the faces of a crystal when you subject it to mechanical stress by applying pressure. Simplified further, the crystal becomes a kind of battery with a positive charge on one face and a negative charge on the opposite. Electrical current flows if the two faces are connected together to make a circuit. Quartz crystals also vibrate at very precise frequencies; so precise that quartz oscillators can be used as accurate time-keepers. Because of these demonstrable phenomena, it is not surprising that Quartz Crystal has been attributed with supernatural powers since prehistory. 

 

The first known references to the use of crystals is from the Ancient Sumerians (4th millennium BC), who included crystals in their magic formulas. Ancient Egyptians mined for crystals for use in jewelry, designed to make use of their metaphysical properties as aids for health and protection. Crystals have been used for healing in traditional Chinese Medicine, which dates back to at least 5000 years. The Ancient Greeks assigned a multitude of properties to crystals. The word 'crystal' is derived from the Greek word "krýstallos" which translates to "ice". The Ancient Greeks believed that clear quartz crystals were made of water that had been super frozen in a way that turned it to permanent ice. Plato described Atlantis as having crystals the residents used to facilitate telepathy. The Native Americans of the Hopi Tribe in Arizona used quartz crystals to assist in diagnosing illnesses. These are just a few examples of the legends associated with Quartz and other crystals.

 

Throughout history, various kinds of magical powers have been ascribed to crystals. It’s no surprise that these beliefs began to see a rise in popularity in the 1980s. Known as the New Age Movement, this resurgence of ancient medicine and lore is still very popular today. While most scientists say there is no empirical evidence to suggest that crystals have inherent metaphysical properties, most fans and practitioners would beg to differ. There is an undeniable otherworldly feeling when surrounded by the natural wonders of Central Arkansas. The crystal mines full of treasure buried in red clay, the hot springs surging with ancient, mineral-rich waters from deep within the earth, the prehistoric Oachita Mountains rising gently all around, softened by centuries of passing time; all of it feels magical. Even walking into one of the dozen or so crystal shops in the area gives a sense of mysticism. Whether a person collects rocks because they are visually pleasing, scientifically interesting, or supernaturally powerful, the sense of wonder is the same. Arkansas is filled with these wonders, and we here at It’s About Rocks feel incredibly lucky to reside within the heart of it all. 

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