Sunday, October 4, 2015

Granny's Pantry # 28: Finding Healing Springs
It is 7 miles from Denton—the nearest town-- to High Rock, where Granny Cole lived. In the old days, that was the road you mostly took to reach her.  So, when you crossed the bridge over Lick Creek and then went through the little crossroads of Healing Springs, you were almost there …......3 more miles.

Healing Springs, in those days, was just a dot on the map and a means to the end of reaching Granny's house.  It never occurred to me for years that there was hidden history behind the familiar name.  And even when I heard that the”springs” was a real place people would visit for its healing powers, I didn’t know


Well, no more mystery. I have now officially "found" Healing Springs—and it’s a fascinating and lovely place.
According to the NC History Project, “Beginning in the 1830s, resorts and health spas emerged across the state … near mineral and hot springs.” This era has been called the “Golden Age of Health Resorts in North Carolina.”  Indeed, I believe there were between 50-75 such springs, both famous and not-so, at the time Dr. A.N. Bell reported on “The Climate and Mineral Springs of North Carolina” in Transactions of the American Climatological Association: For the Years 1893 and 1894  published in 1895.
B. Madden states that “There were baths, spas, and springs located in many counties, but they were particularly concentrated in Western North Carolina, the Piedmont, and the Sandhills region.  Different types of springs boasted different services and medicinal properties:  some mineral waters were meant for bathing, some were meant for drinking and food preparation, and others were for both.”  Popular springs were often accessible by railroad and offered hotel and/or cabin accommodations, spring houses or pavilions for taking on the healing waters, and social and recreational activities. Among the better known springs were the Grove Park Inn (Asheville), Vade Mecum Springs (Hanging Rock State Park), White Sulphur Springs (Mt. Airy) and Hot Springs (Hot Springs). [And I might add...we have our own Fuquay Springs and Chalybeate Springs.]
I don’t believe that Healing Springs would be considered in the above company, but nevertheless, it was a popular place of healing from the 1840’s, past the turn of the century and into the early 1900’s. These healing waters were first used by Indians and later by white settlers following the Rev War.    
The resort once offered cabins to accommodate weary travelers, small rock grotto-like shelters and a soaking pool for treating whatever ailed them in body and a tavern for their food and “spirit” needs.
According to Dr. Bell, the Healing Springs were considered to be chalybeate-type springs, which (I found out) means their waters were impregnated with salts of iron. How well they worked to cure the variety of ills for which spring treatments were famous…I have no idea…except that I did read a quote from Mr. C.G. Davidson (1951), about another such place, that “there is little evidence that the healing of more than ennui was accomplished.”

Who is to say?  I think I would have been a frequent and loyal visitor.  In fact, with so many springs around the state, I could have easily made a career of going from one to another to do my own type of “research.”
But back to my discovery. A mile or two north of the crossroads with the same name on Highway 8 in Davidson County. At the entrance to The Springs at High Rock (an upscale housing community), there is a small park-like space on the right. Despite a misty rain, I was determined to explore an area I had only been able to glimpse from the road.
Cell phone camera in hand, I became a visitor (even if 100 years late) to the Healing Springs Resort. Here’s what I found.

I understand that there are also foundation remains of resort cabins scattered on the slopes of High Rock Mountain above where I stood. Exploring those would have to wait for another day.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
(Matthew 11:28)
My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2)