One of my favorite drives is along TX 180 - the road that takes me to some of my favorite places. Weatherford, Palo Pinto, and Mineral Wells
State Park are all along that street, and none is more than a two hour drive from my driveway.
I've always had a special affinity, though, for little old Mineral Wells. A former spa town known for its healing waters (called Crazy Water)
since before the Comanche laid claim to the land, this town sits in among the shadows of its former tourist-center glory, making it one of
the most mysterious and intriguing towns in North Texas.
Of all the old hotels which used to welcome spa guests (and are now apartment buildings, for the most part), none is as imposing as the
abandoned hulk of the Baker Hotel. An art deco giant, the Baker was modeled after the Arlington hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and during
its hey-day it claimed Judy Garland and Greer Garson among its patrons.
Standing like a sentry over Mineral Wells' ancient downtown, the Baker closed in the 1970s when recuperative spa vacations went out of
favor. Today, its gargantuan corpse stands defiantly in the middle of town, beckoning passers-by to marvel and dream of its former glory.
Many of the businesses in Mineral Wells folded, too. Today, this hill side town is an interesting mix of dilapidated mansions and former
hotels, abandoned storefronts, and scenic ruins amid strip malls and fast food joints.
I really, really like Mineral Wells. I've met only friendly people there, and its history fascinates me. I've decided that it will become my home
one day... and hopefully, I can help in the efforts to preserve the Baker and all of Mineral Wells' history.
|More information on
|A drunken woman supposedly jumped off the 14th story balcony, trying to dive into the pool. Of course she didn't live to tell about it.
The owner/manager kept his mistress in a cozy little apartment at the Baker, and her ghost still haunts that floor. She apparently only directs her
haunts at live males however - even in the after life, she seems to be a competitive woman.
A young waiter died in the basement after he fell between the door of the elevator and the shaft. In the end, he was half the man he used to be.
|Mineral Wells is located about 20 miles west of Weatherford on US 183
in Palo Pinto County. It is the gateway to the North Texas Hill Country.
|My Kinda Town: Mineral Wells
|Ruins of hotels looking down onto Mineral Wells. These perished in a fire a few decades back.
|Back courtyard at the Baker Hotel. This is how the hoi polloi entered the illustrious building.
|The historic district shows off its mysterious waters. Or just a ditch - anyway, there's a lot to see in way of historic infrastructure.
|The Baker Hotel and its long defunct blue fountain.
|Art deco light delights at the Baker Hotel.
|How many different bricks do you see? Brick collecting is a great hobby, by the way.
|You can find bottled "crazy water" at speciality shops in downtown Mineral Wells, but also at the local grocery stores. (It tastes awful).
|Sturdy brick storefronts in Mineral Wells recall better times.
|Some ghostly gossip about the Baker Hotel:
|The Baker Hotel is not the only remnant of Mineral Wells' illustrious past. Several stately hotels, now residences and apartments, dot the
peaceful avenues northwest of the Baker.
|This old hotel (?) would like someone to make her pretty again. I hear my name, but my wallet balks.