Healing water offered at resort near McKinney

Published 7:59 pm Friday, August 9, 2019

Elixir Springs Resort near McKinney was a place that offered healing water for people suffering from rheumatism and stomach trouble, or whatever ailed them.

The 43-acre property had a two-story, 35-room hotel, including 25 bedrooms, office parlor, extra large skating rink, dance hall, dining room, kitchen, basement and bathrooms.

It had steam heat, modern water works, light plant and outbuildings. A two-acre orchard also had 1,000 strawberry plants.

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Guests arrived by train at the McKinney depot and rode through the country side about 5 miles to reach the resort.

W.O. McIntyre, editor of The Advocate-Messenger, wrote an article about the Springs resort in 1925. He described the place was “situated at the foothills of a semi-circular range of mountains, with a shady, undulating lawn extending in the east and covering a large acreage.”

Opens in 1913

Elixir Springs resort was established in 1913 when F.M. Simms, who owned a small cottage near where the hotel was later located, decided to drill a water well. He encountered a heavy stream of water about 22 feet deep which “poured forth like an oil gusher.”

However, the water smelled so bad, he declared that the water was “pizen.’’ He thought no one would drink it, according to an article in The Advocate-Messenger.

However, a thirsty man came by one day and drank a large amount of the water and declared that he had never before tasted such fine water.

After hearing the history of the water, he became excited for a time, but instead of feeling worse, as he feared, he soon felt much better, and remained in town and drank more water the next day.

“People in the neighborhood began drinking the water, the sick were restored to health, dyspeptics soon forgot their disorders.”

The resort claimed the water was the most wonderful in the country. Scores of people suffering with rheumatism were carried there on cots and after taking hot baths for a couple of weeks were able to walk and leave the place without help.

It was good for stomach ailments and “it was usual for people to drink 50 glasses of water in a single day and with the best results.”

Others declared they drank 85 glasses of the water in nine hours.

The good news spread rapidly. People from all around came to Elixir Springs to drink the healing water.

A Stanford doctor was in a low state of health and never expected to practice again. He spent a few weeks at Elixir and showed much improvement and returned to work.

Another story was about a Junction City resident who suffered from rheumatism and was taken to the Springs where he drank the water and took hot baths. He had been walking on crutches then was able to walk using a cane. After three weeks, he had thrown away the cane and crutches.

Sold in 1926

John Coulter bought the Springs in 1926, after being ill for several years. He was hardly able to eat. He began to improve in less than a week after moving to the springs.

The Springs business was booming in 1925, after guests came away praising the experience.

The J.B. Williams Motor Company in Danville began operating an omnibus line between Danville and Elixir daily at a modest fare. Hundreds of people in Danville took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the hospitality of the hotel during the summer months.

Col. C.H. Houchin of Anderson County heard about the springs after his wife had been in poor health and had sought various resorts without success.

She came to Elixir Springs and tried the water. Her restoration to health was rapid.

Houchin was so excited about the resort, he sold his mercantile business and traded their 400-acre farm to F.M. Simms for the Springs resort.

Houchin began to ship water to all parts of the country in six-gallon containers. He, along with his wife and daughter Minnie, operated the resort where wholesome, well-cooked meals were served. They had their own Jersey cows, gardens and poultry yards for 400 chickens. Col. Houchin was an expert chicken fancier and fed the chickens milk seven days before they were dressed.

Dewberries and blackberries grew in the neighborhood and he used them in pies for the hotel. He also purchased produce from local groceries and bought from Danville Ice and Coal Company.

He operated the resort until 1926, when he retired.

Good hospitality and food

Everyone who spent time at Elixir Springs came away praising the hospitality and good food.

Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Davis and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Durham of Danville spent a day there. Davis declared that the dinner was the most elaborate, most complete and most perfect — from a culinary point of view — of anything he had seen in that line since the flourishing days of his youth.

The menu had fried chicken, roast lamb, home-grown tomatoes, vegetables and salads, and rich homemade ice cream and a variety of homemade cakes.

Judge and Mrs. Charles A. Hardin of Harrodsburg spent a week at Elixir and were charmed with the place.

Robert Letcher, a well-known barber of Parksville, was about dead of stomach trouble and rheumatism and had to quit his business. He went to Elixir Springs as a porter, table waiter and general roustabout. After three days of drinking the water, he was feeling much better. He says, “Elixir is that fountain of youth which Ponce De Leon failed to find in Florida.”

In the 1930s, rates were reduced by John Coulter. He set the rates at $3 for one day, $2.50 for three or more days, $16 a week for one person in a room, or $15 for each when two occupy the same room. Sunday dinners were 75 cents instead of a dollar.

Water from the springs was 20 cents per gallon.

Healing water offered at resort near McKinney

Coulter also made a special rate for parties of four. The $8 price included room and board and all the pure, fresh Elixir Springs water anyone was able to drink.

The main attraction at the Springs was scores of birds that the residents of the open country never had the opportunity of seeing or hearing. Guests told The Advocate about a bird concert from 4 to 6 a.m.

“Each morning puts the shame the artists of the Metropolitan Opera House. The mockingbirds and several other species sing the livelong day,” the article read.

There were so many foxes in the vicinity of Elixir Springs because they were attracted to the place. In June 1925, seven hunters with 15 dogs enjoyed a good chase around the foot of the mountains.

The music of the baying hounds echoing and re-echoing through the hills and valleys produced a “concord of sweet sounds” that was said to linger in the ears of those who were so fortunate as to have been at the Springs that night, according to the article.