Hi, Caroline Clemmons here. My friend Celia Yeary is allowing me to include in this post an article she did for Sweethearts of the West this week about Mineral Wells, specifically about the Crazy Water there. There’s a Crazy Water Festival, this year from October 7-9th, 2012. But the Crazy Water is sold year round and then there’s the Crazy Water Hotel and the Baker Hotel, and BatWorld. Thanks for sharing with me, Celia.
I’ll start with Celia’s portion of today’s post and include her map of Mineral Wells’ location for non-Texans:
In 1877, James Lynch and his wife, Amanda, left the North Texas town of Denison, Texas with their nine children and fifty head of livestock. The Lynch’s were searching for a drier climate because their family had been in poor health. Both James, who was fifty, and Amanda suffered from rheumatism.
As they traveled, news of Comanche attacks further west stopped their journey. On Christmas Eve, 1877, one of their oxen collapsed and died after crossing the Brazos River and lightning struck another. They decided to settle down where they were, in a pretty valley tucked in the hills of Palo Pinto County.
Mr. Lynch purchase eighty acres of land and began to settle. From 1877 until the summer of 1880, the Lynch’s hauled water from the Brazos River to their land, some four miles away. That summer Mr. Johnny Adams happened upon the Lynch Ranch. Mr. Adams, a well driller, agreed to drill a well on the property for Mr. Lynch in exchange for a yoke of oxen.
At first the Lynch’s were hesitant to drink the water, because it had a funny taste and they were afraid it might be poisoned. Hauling water four miles, though, was difficult, so they began sampling the water. Finding that it was not harmful, the Lynch’s began drinking the well water. An unexpected thing happened. Mr. and Mrs. Lynch’s rheumatism was cured, and Mr. Lynch, once frail and gaunt, began putting on weight. In fact, the entire family became healthier.
News of the improvements in the health of the Lynch family spread fast. Neighbors began trying the water, and within a month strangers were coming to the Lynch Ranch inquiring about it. Mr. Lynch began selling the water for five cents a quart. The water grew in popularity very quickly, and by the end of the year 3,000 people at a time were camping on the Lynch property.
The town of Mineral Wells was laid out on the ranch in the fall of 1881, and Mr. Lynch became the town’s first mayor. People arrived by the hundreds, and by November it looked like a small army had moved in. A boom town had sprung up. Because of the enormous demand, Mr. Lynch and others began to dig more wells.
The water got its name of “Crazy Water” from an elderly lady who suffered from a form of dementia and sat by the well all day, asking people to draw her up a pail of water. The water apparently had some positive effects on the “crazy lady’s” illness, and soon others were lining up for the water. The well was named the “Crazy Well” and a pavilion was built at the site. Today, the Crazy Water Retirement Hotel sits on that spot on Main Street.
The Crazy Water Company became the most well known of the Mineral Wells water companies. Today, visitors can find the Crazy Water Company a couple of blocks behind the Crazy Hotel.
The Crazy Water Crystal Plant was built in 1919. “Crazy” water was boiled down until only crystals remained. These crystals became an early version of “instant food” to be dissolved in water. The crystals were sold all over the world.
Please read these notes from Celia:
NOTE #1: A significant amount of lithium can be found in some of the town’s wells, indicating that the “Crazy Water” story may have significance. Lithium is used today to treat some mental illnesses.
NOTE #2: As a very young man, my daddy worked in the Crystal Plant. When he met Mother, I believe he was working there at the time. My mother, as a young girl, worked in the basement laundry of the famous Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells. They courted by going to dances held for young adults. My daddy always said of Mother: “Another fellow took her to the dance, but I took her home.”
NOTE #3: I was born in Salesville, a small village eight miles north of Mineral Wells. I grew up in West Texas, but all through the years, we traveled back to Minerals Wells and Salesville to visit both sets of grandparents. I’ve known about the Crazy Hotel and the crazy water..and the Baker Hotel..my entire life.
Celia Yeary-Romance…and a little bit ‘o Texas
Caroline’s notes: In those prone to form them, the mineral-laden water hastens formation of kidney and gall stones. Otherwise, they are reputed to be beneficial for many conditions. Crystals are still shipped worldwide.
Other mineral water companies operated in the area. I have an old bottle from Wizard Wells, but nothing is left ot that community except ruins.
Now for my portion of this post. First, the Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells, Texas is on the National Registry of Historic Buildings. I love the place, and especially like that style architecture.
I was fortunate to tour the Baker Hotel on a Heritage Society Tour several years ago. My family had driven by the hotel many times when we traveled West on Highway 180 from the DFW Metroplex, and I was impressed with the architecture and size. I didn’t make it up to the bell tower, but I did see Mr. Baker’s large suite. Seeing inside the hotel saddened me. One speculator had almost gutted the place selling off fixtures, carpets, and anything marketable. After that, he deserted the hotel. Then vagrants and vandals moved in. For years, freinds of the Baker have tried to find investors to purchase and restore the hotel to its former beauty.
At one time, “the Baker,” as locals call it, had a full spa, solarium with tanning beds, ballrooms, meeting rooms, restaurant, swimming pool, bowling alley under the swimming pool, garages, and big name celebrities entertaining guests. Several notable celebrities made the Baker a temporary home during their visits to the city’s health spas; the star studded guest list included the likes of Glenn Miller, Lawrence Welk, Clark Gable, Judy Garland, and future U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. It is even rumored by local historians that legendary outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow may have spent a night or two at the Baker.