During the heyday of spas, two luxurious hotels, owned by flamboyant competing visionaries, attracted the rich and famous to southern Indiana. Hotel guests came from throughout the United States in search of cures and pleasure. Among the many noted celebrities visiting the French Lick Springs and West Baden Springs Hotels were Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Al Capone, Joe Lewis, and professional golfer Walter Hagen, and the West Baden Springs Hotel was known as the "Eighth Wonder of the World." After years of neglect, the two hotels have been restored to their original splendor. Legalization of gambling and the building of a "riverboat" casino between the hotels have lured pleasureseekers to celebrate modernday opulence and recreation.
John Martin Smith, a former president of the Indiana Historical Society, has been active in many historical endeavors. He is the author of several books, including Kendallville and Noble County, Angola and Steuben County, DeKalb County, Allen County, and Auburn: The Classic City.
French Lick Springs Hotel: Gold Leaf, Stained Glass, and Marble 11
West Baden Springs Hotel: The Eighth Wonder of the World 49
Recreation Opportunities: Golf Balls, Clay Pigeons, and Elephants 77
The Springs: Pluto Water and Sprudel Water 93
Twisting the Tiger's Tail: Gambling in the Heartland 101
Getting There: The Monon Connection 113
Paoli and Orange County: In the Cumberland Hills 121