A brief history of Hamilton Springs

While Hamilton Springs will utilize the Music City Star railway, it won’t be the first time that a train has stopped there. The area has a rich history as a tourist destination. In the late 1800s, the land was owned by Jim Hamilton and his family who ran a Victorian-era hotel around a 19th century mineral spring. The spring enticed people from across the south to visit. Hamilton Springs became a welcomed retreat for city-dwellers who wanted to come and enjoy the cooler country air in the summer and soak in and drink the “healing waters” of the spring that runs through the property. It was not an uncommon practice. Long before health clubs, mineral spring resorts thrived across the country thanks to an increased focus on health and healing around the turn of the century. It was believed that the waters of the mineral spring could cure various ailments and improve the look and feel of skin. The mineral resorts became high-traffic vacation spots, and Hamilton Springs was no exception. 

Not only did the spring prove to be a tourist attraction, people were also drawn to the simple beauty of the area. Its rolling hills and lush trees were described in advertisements that attracted visitors from near and far. Hamilton Springs became one of the state’s most popular retreats, became very well-known and enjoyed great success as one of the state’s most popular retreats.  

For 34 years, Jim Hamilton ran a successful operation and welcomed passengers from the Tennessee Central Railroad at the stop at Hamilton Station. It was a legacy passed on to him from his grandfather who decided to put down his roots after he acquired the land thanks for a land grant after his service in the Revolutionary War.

While Jim Hamilton enjoyed success, another stop just over the hill provided healthy competition. Horn Springs resort was owned by Jim Horn, and his resort was very similar to Hamilton Springs. While the two stops were close in proximity, that was close enough for Hamilton and Horn. The owners did not get along and forged a fierce competition as evidenced by one of the only written records of an exchange between the two. At a political rally in 1912, each owner was asked to promote his resort. Horn discussed his water and how it was superior; to which Jim Hamilton responded that he was glad Mr. Horn believed the water was so good because Horn was stealing his water from Hamilton Springs! Later research and mapping would show that both men derived their waters from the same spring. 

Sadly, Hamilton Springs resort burned in 1932 and, because the depression was in full swing and tourism was down, the hotel was never rebuilt. Horn Springs also burned later in the 1950s. While the original Hamilton Springs Hotel is gone, its name and history as a rail stop will be carried on inside the new Hamilton Springs development.

Read more about the history of Hamilton Springs and Horn Springs.