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
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
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
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
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.
The tile floor in the penthouse has swastikas in its border. They were
installed in 1929,nso they do not have an evil connotation. They were
meant to reflect Navajo and Kiowa sun symbols.
Long ago, 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
|How to get there:
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 looking down onto Mineral Wells.
|Back courtyard at the Baker Hotel.
|The historic district shows off its mysterious waters. Or just a ditch.
|The Baker Hotel and its long defunct blue fountain. The
swimming pool is to the right.
|How many different bricks do you see?
|David enjoys a sip of Crazy Water.
|Sturdy brick storefronts recall better times.
|Some ghostly gossip about the Baker Hotel: