#thisplacematters, Historic Hotels, History, Stories, Volunteerism

Preserving Our Heritage

Alex Haley quote

September 2019

The primary purpose of restoring the old RBS Bank building on the corner by the flashing yellow light is to satisfy that “hunger to know our heritage.” From the Indians and frontiersmen who first walked along the Salt Lick Creek, to the folks who ran the hotels and other attractions during the 1920s and 1930s, to those who stayed and rebuilt after the devastating flood of 1969, all have built upon each other’s dreams and accomplishments to make Red Boiling Springs the charming village that it is today.

From Simple Pleasures by Dr. Jeanette Keith: “If Red Boiling Springs’ nostalgic contemporary clientele could have seen the town as it was during its heyday between the World Wars, they would have found that the twilight which is so hushed at Red Boiling Springs was not so then. The main road was crowded every summer evening with people promenading from six large hotels and nine boarding houses. Music spilled across the night air from the dance halls and from jukeboxes in restaurants and taverns. Cars from nearby towns were beginning to pull in, and the bootleggers were getting ready for business. The town’s lights would burn until well after midnight. Red Boiling Springs was a “boom town” with its prosperity built on recreation.

Vacationers had first been attracted to the resort at Red Boiling Springs by the numerous mineral water springs in the area. Although drinking mineral waters was thought to cure diseases, Red Boiling Springs in its heyday never had the atmosphere of a sanitarium. Going to Red Boiling Springs to drink the waters provided an excuse for a lively vacation.” (p. 5-6)

Some say the decline in the popularity of the “resort town” of Red Boiling Springs began during the war years of the early 1940s. Additionally, it was dealt a hard slap in the face with the June 1969 flood that destroyed homes and businesses never rebuilt. One of the saddest contributions to the decline of the town (beginning in the 1950s), is the departure of many of her children seeking their fame and fortune in the big city and other locations.

In the last several years the town has welcomed folks from around the country who are attracted to the “simple pleasures” of the quiet, rural atmosphere along the Salt Lick Creek. The town still offers much to the tourist/guest. Three of the historic hotels are still functioning as bed-and-breakfast inns and special event venues. There are gift shops featuring the work of local artists and craftspeople. Several events are scheduled each year: the Folk Medicine Festival, concerts, antique car shows and more.

Plans are to have a “soft opening” of the Red Boiling Springs Heritage Museum in June, 2020. You can help make certain that happens with a financial donation, or giving your time to help with some of the physical labor needed to complete the restoration work, or loaning some historical objects or documents from your family’s history in our little town. Contact Vision 2020’s Executive Director Rita Watson if you are willing and able to help.

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