Monday, April 11, 2011

White Sulphur Springs

The Meriwether Historical Society met on Sunday, April 10, 2011 at White Sulphur Springs near Pine Mountain to see the restoration of the historic resort and learn what owner Steven Stuart has planned for the healing waters.
Historical Society President Sallie Mabon welcomed the large crowd attending the meeting that was held in the spring house of Chalybeate Springs used in the 1970s as a barbecue pit and restaurant. Mabon thanked Rosla Plant, Linda Supanski, and Mary Anne Harman for their work on the Christmas party and dinner. Fifteen pavers for Greenville’s new streetscapes sidewalks were purchased for historical society presidents costing $3,750 with past officers donating $1,400 to the fundraiser.
Mabon introduced Stuart who purchased White Sulphur Springs three years ago. He said he had been driving by the springs for seventeen years without knowing they were there but had read about the healing waters of various Meriwether springs and was interested. His first work was to bring in bulldozers and clear the jungle that had grown up over the years. He is currently working with engineers, contractors, and bottlers to put the healing sulphur water in a marketable form.
The water has a high PH of 7.6 to 8 and brings with it a number of minerals that are thought to heal acid reflux, help with diabetes, joint problems, and more.  The high levels of manganese are thought to help those with Alzheimer’s. The springs output is about one gallon per minute. Several springs are located there-Chalybeate, Rock Sulphur, Black Sulphur, and Red Sulphur Springs all feed into White Sulphur Creek.
Stuart has enjoying learning about the various owners and history of the resort. The Marks brothers of Columbus owned the land in the 1800s when it was called Pine Knot. 1906 saw a lot of activity as there was a two story hotel there run by owners Scoville and Tigner. People visited for the health benefits but also pure recreation. There were a number of cottages and activities on the grounds from a casino, dance hall, billiards, steam rooms and more. The grounds provided all the vegetables and meats for the dining room. Historical society members enjoyed pouring over the hotel register dating from 1906 to 1922 and noting signatures by the locals from our county staying there as well as noted figures like John D. Rockefeller, George Vanderbilt, J. P. Morgan, Cason Callaway, and FDR.
Stuart showed the club framed photos of Franklin Roosevelt on possum hunts where the animal was hunted and caught, fed out for several weeks and then eaten.  Ben and Martha Tigner were shown serving the then Governor Roosevelt at the famous “Possum Supper” where thirty possums were cooked and served.
The hotel burned two times with the last opening February 12, 1948. The club enjoyed touring one of the cottages complete with rustic wainscoting, wall molding pegged to hold items like clothing, and plastered walls and ceilings that were in remarkably good shape.
Stuart provided members a gallon jug so they could each take home the healing waters from Red Sulphur Springs. Several members enjoyed soaking their feet in the Chalybeate Springs water while the society enjoyed refreshments and chatting. The society will again hold a summer luncheon and fundraiser possibly having Herb Bridges, called the world’s leading authority on Gone with the Wind memorabilia, as the guest speaker.