Grayson Springs

Historical Marker# 768 marks the site of a famous sulfur spa and resort in Grayson County.

Grayson Springs began in the mid 1820s and was owned and operated by M.P. Clarkson. Opened from May 1 until October 1 each year, it flourished from 1825 until the 1920s. The resort was situated nearly three miles from the railroad and five miles from Leitchfield. There are about one hundred white sulfur springs on a quarter acre of land which are said to be more strongly impregnated with sulfur than any other in the United States. They range in temperature, varying from very cold to very warm, with twenty-four mineral springs also located nearby. The springs were valuable for their supposed medicinal purposes, as many people declared the resort was responsible for the prevention of thousands of stomach ulcers, heart conditions, nervous breakdowns, and other maladies. Dr. William Barret was the “hydropathic physician” of the resort.

In the 1900s, Grayson Springs reached its peak while it was owned and operated by the Mercke Brothers. With four hotels on the property – Old New Orleans, Louisville, Main, and Morality – more than one thousand guests could be accommodated in the six hundred rooms.

Spring resorts were located all throughout Kentucky, with at least fifty spas scattered around the state. Containing salt, copper, and sulfur, these springs were supposed to cure a larger number of illnesses. It also offered the wealthy a social environment away from the boredom, summer heat, and pollution of cities. After the turn of the twentieth century, as medicine significantly improved and better transportation allowed for other vacation spots, the spas began to rapidly decline and eventually fell out of favor.

Images

"After a Few Baths..."

"After a Few Baths..."

A cartoon of a man walking away from his crutches “After a few baths at Grayson Springs.” Courtesy of Kentucky Digital Library. View File Details Page

Resort Building

Resort Building

This colonial building is the only building still remaining from the resort and is currently privately owned. Courtesy of University of Kentucky. View File Details Page

Park Grounds

Park Grounds

An image of the park grounds at Grayson Springs. Courtesy of Kentucky Digital Library. View File Details Page

Postcard to a Friend

Postcard to a Friend

A souvenir postcard after 1900 when it was owned by the Mercke Brothers. Courtesy of Kentucky Digital Library. View File Details Page

The Swimming Hole

The Swimming Hole

This hand painted postcard depicts a swimming hole at the Grayson Springs, ca. 1910. Courtesy of Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Horseback Riding

Horseback Riding

An image of a woman sitting side-saddle on a horse held by a young boy at Grayson Springs. Courtesy of Kentucky Digital Library. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Ashlee Chilton , “Grayson Springs,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed March 24, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/644.

Share this Story