The Hot Springs

Hot Springs Entry in Dunbar's Journal-December 1804

Hot Springs entry in Dunbar's Journal-December 1804

"The Boiling Springs"

By December 7th, the group had reached the point along the Ouachita River closest to the hot springs.  Several men immediately began the nine-mile trek to examine the springs and the surrounding area.  They returned the next afternoon with descriptions of their experiences.  The following day, Dunbar and Hunter traveled to the springs where they began an almost four-week study of the water properties and geological and biological features.  The explorers found that there were four principal and two inferior springs within the geologic complex.  After measuring the water's temperature, they found that it averaged between 148 to 150 degrees.  Hunter also cataloged limestone deposits and cabbage-like plants they would call the "cabbage raddish of the Washita." They described small microorganisms living in the waters, this documentation may have been the first report of living things in such harsh environments.  The explorers also documented as the wildlife in the areas around their camp and around the spring complex.  Despite their experiments and theories, both men left without any conclusions concerning the hot water's source.