Bladon Springs State Park
|Bladon Springs State Park|
View of the former hotel site from the springs
|Location||3921 Bladon Road, Silas, Alabama|
|Area||357 acres (144 ha)|
|Elevation||131 feet (40 m)|
|Operated by||Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources|
Bladon Springs State Park is a 357-acre (144 ha) state park in Bladon Springs, Choctaw County, Alabama, centered on four mineral springs. Park facilities include campsites, shelters, tables, and grills.
Bladon Springs was named for the original patentee of the property, John Bladon. James Conner opened the property to the public as a spa in 1838 after the mineral springs' "curative" properties began to become well known in the area. The springs were analyzed by a state geologist in 1845 and found to contain sulfur, iron, magnesium, and calcium. By this time the grounds contained many small cottages, with a capacity for 100 guests.
In 1846, a grand Greek Revival–style hotel with a two-story veranda across the full length of the front was constructed as the center piece of the spa. The hotel's two main floors were supported by a full, raised, brick basement level. The hotel had a capacity for 200 guests. It was one of the largest wooden hotels ever built in Alabama. The hotel featured such amenities as a large ballroom, a bowling alley, a billiard room, a hotel bar in the basement level, and even a skating rink. Surrounding the hotel was a latticed pavilion over the principle spring, bath houses, a large latticed pergola, and croquet grounds. The springs, along with the hotel and spa, earned Bladon Springs the nickname "Saratoga of the South."
In time a small town, also named Bladon Springs, developed around the hotel and spa. It featured many large homes built as summer residences by people from other parts of the state and elsewhere. The hotel continued to operate, though limited in scope, during the American Civil War. By 1870, it was once again in full operation. After the turn of the century, when mineral springs began to diminish in popularity, the hotel and spa fell on hard times and eventually closed.
The empty hotel was used as sleeping quarters for logging crews and others until 1934 when the state purchased the property. The state then converted the hotel into apartments for use by state employees, until the hotel burned down in 1938. All of the cottages were eventually demolished or moved. Today, the pavilion over the main spring is the only original structure remaining.
Activities and amenities
- Spring water: The water from the springs is laden with sulfur-fixing bacteria and is slightly yellow-tinged. It has a faint odor of sulfur and contains small gauze-like masses of the bacteria. These bacteria are harmless to humans. Although most visitors come to bathe in the water, it is also potable, and even pleasant to drink after the solid materials have been strained out and the water chilled.
- Camping: A campground has ten modern sites with water, electricity and sewer hookups.
- Picnicking: The park offers picnic tables and grills plus three pavilions for rental.
- Playground: A small playground has a slide and swingset.
- "Bladon Springs State Park". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey.
- "Bladon Springs State Park". Alabama State Parks. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-11-01.
- Sulzby, James Frederick. Historic Alabama Hotels and Resorts. Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 1960:51-58. ISBN 0-8173-5309-7.
- Bladon Springs State Park Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources