County Connections: Dawson Springs once hailed as the top health resort in the upper south

06/28/2017 07:00 PM

DAWSON SPRINGS — The small Hopkins County town of Dawson Springs is a city with a colorful past and was once renowned as a leading health resort in the nation.

In 1898, “Springs” was added to the name of the town in recognition of its mineral water.

Dawson Springs Mayor Jenny Sewell, a first cousin of former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, says that back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, visitors flocked to the western Kentucky community via railroad to sample the waters that they hoped would cure their ailments.

“In 1901, when the state of Kentucky had 1 million people, there were 51,000 railroad tickets sold to the destination Dawson Springs in a 12-week period to take the waters,” Sewell said.

The crunch of people brought on a building boom in the town.

“There were 40 hotels and boarding houses located in our city,” Sewell said.

Dawson Springs also was the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1915 to 1917.

Those Pirate teams featured one of the all-time baseball greats, Honus Wagner.

“As a result of that many major league teams that were coming back and forth on the lines, stopped and sparred with the Pirates, including the Cincinnati Reds, the Boston Red Sox, and there were a host of minor league teams that did continue to do their spring training here even after the Pirates went on to the south in Florida when it began to open up,” Sewell said.

The popularity of Dawson Springs as a resort waned beginning in the early thirties, with several developments contributing to its demise.

As the automobile gained in popularity, roads were improved and people no longer had to depend on rail travel.

Visitors still came to drink the water and take baths, but in steadily decreasing numbers in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, but improvements in medical treatment and the development of new medications led to disinterest in the “old remedies’”.


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