A great aerial shot of the West Baden Springs Hotel.
The dome at the West Baden Springs Hotel is truly breathtaking. Once dubbed "The Eighth Wonder of the World," the dome and hotel were officially reopened to the public on September 15, 1902 after the entire structure burned to the ground in 1901. It is a true technological marvel. It was the largest free-spanning dome in the world from 1902 to 1913 and remained the largest free-spanning dome in the United States until 1955. There were many that said a dome of that size couldn't be done. The trusses that hold the dome up were engineered using many of the same principles that a bridge would use.
I found myself looking up at the dome constantly, not quite able to wrap my head around the sheer enormity of the structure. While the dome was impressive at night, it was even more so in the daylight. We got some great background information from Dyan Duncan, the Public Relations Manager for the French Lick Resort. She was kind enough to show us around both the West Baden Springs Hotel and the French Lick Springs Hotel, which together make up French Lick Springs Resort. Dyan told us about a "secret room" directly underneath the center of the dome that contains paintings of unknown history. Many history buffs have guessed at the origin of these paintings but nobody knows the entire truth of why they were put there. Pretty cool!
Following our tour of everything the West Baden Springs Hotel had to offer, Dyan led us over to the French Lick Springs Hotel. While the history of the West Baden Springs Hotel is incredible, the history of the French Lick Springs Hotel is just as neat, if not more so. It was built in 1845, burned in 1897, and then was rebuilt, the new hotel even more grandiose than the first. The hotel is located on mineral springs (now closed) that many in the early 1900's believed to be the cure for many common ailments. People would travel to French Lick Springs Hotel to pay for mineral water in the hopes that it would cure whatever ailed them. Unfortunately, as we know today, there wasn't really much healing powers in the water.
The French Lick Springs Hotel also contains a great casino. Mac isn't much of a gamer but if we had had a bit more time I may have tried my luck! The high rollers room had some incredible architecture. I suggest a walk through there if you get a chance.
Mac and I were lucky enough to see the majorities of both hotel properties and all the amenities that they had to offer. From some incredible golf courses to one of the most impressive architectural feats I have ever seen, this was truly a trip to remember. Make a trip to the French Lick Resort in Indiana. You won't regret it!
*Mac and I would like to acknowledge Michele Bowling's hospitality and help in setting this incredible trip up for us.
The French Lick Springs Hotel.
The original electric switchboard that powered the French Lick Springs Hotel. Pretty neat.
An old poster in the French Lick Springs Hotel extolling the healing abilities of Pluto Spring Water.