Originally known as Mud Lick Springs, the supposed medicinal properties of the springs made it a popular site. In 1801, the area was purchased by Colonel Thomas Hart, the father-in-law of Henry Clay. Colonel Hart built a hotel, changed the name to Olympian Springs, and promoted the health benefits of the springs. Olympian Springs quickly became a popular resort and visitation soared throughout the following decades. As the number of visitors increased, so did the need for better transportation. In 1803, a stagecoach route was established from Olympian Springs to Lexington, the first stagecoach route in Kentucky. The resort’s popularity led to abundant rumors. One legend claimed that Henry Clay obtained ownership of Olympian Springs but then lost it during a poker game.
Throughout its history, the resort has served as a haven and a battleground. For example, during the War of 1812, the 28th United States Infantry Regiment camped on the site of Olympian Springs. And in 1833, when the cholera raged in central Kentucky, Lexington residents escaped to Olympian Springs. Lastly, during the Civil War, a cavalry skirmish was fought at the resort, and many of the buildings were burned during the battle. Such events caused the resort’s popularity to decline, by the mid-1940s the land of Olympian Springs faded into the surrounding countryside.
Marker #1342 was dedicated in 1970 by the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky Department of Highways. It reads: Olympian Springs. This famous resort, known by 1791 as Mud Lick Springs, was favored for a century by such prominent visitors as Henry Clay. First stagecoach route in Kentucky began in 1803 between here and Lexington. Many Lexingtonians fled here from cholera epidemic of 1833. 28th US Infantry camped here during War of 1812. Civil War cavalry battle was fought here, Oct. 19, 1864.