Gay-Friendly Hotspots Eureka Springs Arkansas

According to various in-the-know sources, there are a lot of gay-friendly hotspots in the US.  A few of them may seem quite strange and even unbelievable.  One such place is a little Victorian spa town by the name of Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Incorporated as a city in February of 1880, Eureka Springs is located in Carroll County in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas.  While this town of 2,000 plus people may not seem like a gay-friendly, hot vacation spot, it really is.  It is what Jason Heidemann, an associate editor at Orbitz, calls a “defiantly” gay-friendly town “in a state that otherwise bleeds red.”  Last year Eureka Springs took on an Arkansas state law it considered “anti-gay”.

In fact it began back in 2014 when they became the first place in the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  Then, just last year, on May 12, Eureka Springs passed a non-discrimination ordinance (Ordinance 2223) making it the first place in Arkansas to have a law that applies to both LGBT residents and tourists.  

Heidemann believes the location has become a hot vacation spot for the gay community for a number of reasons including (but not necessarily limited to) its winding, up-and-down paths, streets and walkways, the various “architectural marvels” such as Thorncrown Chapel designed in 1980 by E. Fay Jones), a local citizenry that welcomes everyone and of course “the all gay Magnetic Valley Resort.”

The Magnetic Valley Resort is an exclusive men’s retreat.  It is a clothing-optional resort.  (It includes private suites, RV sites, a heated pool a BYO lounge and may actually be worthy of a future article all its own.)

Eureka Springs (Historic District), is included on the National Register of Historic Places.  The National Trust for Historic Preservation also chose the location as one of its America's Distinctive Destinations. by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  It is also the subject of an interesting legend.

As early as the 1800s people have recalled the ancient Native American legends of a reported “Great Healing Spring” there.  It is believed that numerous indigenous groups have traveled to the springs for just this reason.  European settlers would later describe the spring water as “magical”.

Dr. Alvah Jackson is listed as the person to officially have located the legendary spring.  He believed Basin Spring to be the spring in question.  In 1856 he claimed the waters from there actually cured his own eye problems.

During the Civil War he set up a hospital out of a cave and treated his patients with that same water.  Following the war, he went into business bottling and selling the water.  He called it "Dr. Jackson's Eye Water".

In 1879 Jackson’s friend, judge J.B. Saunders, said that he had used the spring waters to cure his own crippling disease.  His personal promotion of the waters in Eureka Springs was enough to make it a boomtown.  By the next year the city had expanded.

With the founding of  the Eureka Improvement Company in 1882 the city attracted a railroad.  Once the railroad was completed, Eureka Springs officially first became known as a vacation resort.  Since then it has gone on to grow into the interesting, open-minded, diverse hotspot it is said to be today complete with art, architecture, fine dining, healing waters, music and tradition.

(All images used here are courtesy of the original owners unless otherwise indicated.)  

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