Bladon Springs State Park
|Bladon Springs State Park|
|Alabama State Park|
Octagonal spring pavilion, the site's last remaining antebellum-era structure
|Elevation||131 ft (40 m) |
|Area||357 acres (144 ha)|
|- State purchase||1934|
|- Park opened||1939|
|Website: Bladon Springs State Park|
Bladon Springs State Park is a locally managed public recreation area on the site of four mineral springs that were once part of the historic spa at Bladon Springs, Choctaw County, Alabama. Analysis by a state geologist in 1845 found the springs to contain sulfur, iron, magnesium, and calcium. The park came under local control after the state closed it in October 2015. The state park—which had offered a small campground and picnicking facilities—was one of several that were closed or saw curtailment of services in 2015 following state budget cuts.
The springs bearing the name of the property's first owner, John Bladon, were opened as a spa by James Conner in 1838. Travelers from near and far were drawn by the mineral content of the spring water, which was thought to possess healing qualities. After building cottages that could accommodate one hundred guests, Conner improved his spa in 1846 with a grand Greek Revival–style hotel that could house 200 more people. The structure featured a full-length, two-story veranda across its front, ballroom, bowling alley, billiard room, hotel bar, and skating rink. A latticed pavilion over the principle spring, bath houses, latticed pergola, and croquet court were part of the grounds. The hotel was one of the largest wooden hotels ever built in Alabama and together with the grounds earned for the springs the nickname the "Saratoga of the South."
The hotel operated through the Civil War, finding full operation again by 1870, then saw diminishing popularity in the 20th century, until it closed "sometime after 1913." Logging crews found lodging there until the hotel was purchased by the state in 1934 for state employee housing. The grounds were opened as a state park after the hotel burned down in 1938. The cottages were eventually demolished or moved, leaving the pavilion over the main spring as the only remaining original structure. The park came under local management after being one of five Alabama state parks that were closed by the state in 2015.
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.
Activities and amenities
- "Bladon Springs State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- Sulzby, James Frederick (1960). Historic Alabama Hotels and Resorts. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. pp. 51–58. ISBN 0-8173-5309-7. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
- "Bladon Springs State Park". Alabama State Parks. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
- Moseley, Brandon (March 24, 2016). "Bill prevents transfers of state park funds to other agencies". Alabama Political Reporter. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
- Gattis, Paul (September 30, 2015). "5 Alabama state parks set to close". AL.com. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
- Moseley, Brandon (December 26, 2015). "State to shut down Outdoor Alabama magazine". Alabama Political Reporter. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
- Thomas V. Ress (March 4, 2013). "Bladon Springs State Park". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Alabama Humanities Foundation. Retrieved December 28, 2015.
- "Bladon Springs State Park". Alabama Birding Trails. University of Alabama Center for Economic Development. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
- Bladon Springs State Park Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
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