“Home of Crazy?” Mineral Wells is my kind of town! I got there as fast as I could. My original purpose of the visit was to investigate the history of a location that claims to be crazy haunted (not the Baker Hotel, but another house). However, when I got to town I was distracted by the “Crazy Water.” Supposedly, people once believed that water from certain wells in town could “cure the crazies,” and I felt I should probably know more about that … not that I really believe that there is hope for my kind of crazy.
The legend, dating from the 1880s, is that a “crazy” woman sat by a well (originally known as The Wiggins Well, for the owner, W.H. Wiggins) in town all day long. She continually asked people passing near her to draw her a pail of water to relieve the summer heat. This woman was said to be so addled that she had to be reminded to eat. That’s pretty doggone crazy! School children watched her daily through the windows, until lunchtime. That’s when the woman went back to a the small clinic owned by Dr. Yeager, which is where she lived. As she drank the water, “people slowly began to notice that the crazy old lady was not so crazy anymore.” Could it be the water that alleviated the old woman’s crazies? People didn’t know, but soon people were flocking to the well to try the magic water. They named the well, “The Crazy Lady Well,” but that was soon shortened to “The Crazy Well.”
A drinking pavilion was built over the well and expanded several times, even offering rooms for rent to those who wanted to stay and bathe in the healthful waters.
The first Crazy Hotel was built in 1912, and enlarged in 1914. It burned in a fire in 1925, and was reconstructed in 1927. People from all over the world and from all walks of life gathered at the bar to sip that Crazy Water.
Now, possibly that “crazy” woman of the legend was just experiencing menopause, and it got better naturally. Then again, that water is chock full of minerals including calcium, magnesium, sulfate, and a significant amount of lithium. It reportedly healed all kinds of ailments, with “the power to relieve or cure, dyspepsia, neuralgia, sore eyes, paralysis, insomnia, liver and kidney problems, rheumatism, scrofula, and improprieties of the blood.” The advertising of the time was rather amusing. Below is a postcard from those days long ago which would have certainly lured me to come there in hopes of curing arthritis.
In the 1930s, the Food and Drug Administration banned this type of advertising, because there was no scientific data to verify the claims that mineral water was a “cure-all.” By the 1940s most of the water companies had closed down, which was a hard hit for the economy of Mineral Wells.
These days only one company, located at 209 W. 6th Street, seems to be in existence. They sell bottled water (I bought a case of it), they offer baths, and they even rent rooms at the Crazy Bath House. Stay there and you can bathe in mineral waters all day long if you would like.
A visit to the Crazy Bath House is on my list of things-to-do. I want to spend more time in Mineral Wells because the town and its history intrigues me. I’m sure I’ll tell you more about the town and its haunting on another day. For now, I need to go drink a quart or two of Crazy Water. If it works, you will be the first to know. Cheers!
- [Postcard of Mineral Wells Welcome Sign], Postcard, n.d.; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth443466/ : accessed August 12, 2014), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Mineral Wells Heritage Association, Mineral Wells, Texas.
Crazy Well, Mineral Wells, Texas, Photograph, 1890?; digital image, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24974/ : accessed August 12, 2014), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Boyce Ditto Public Library, Mineral Wells, Texas.
- the Crazy Hotel. Crazy Hotel, Mineral Wells, Texas – America’s Great Health Resort, Text, n.d.; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth16343/ : accessed August 12, 2014), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Boyce Ditto Public Library, Mineral Wells, Texas.
- We lost our job at Mineral Wells, Texas, Photograph, 1920?-1930?; digital image, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth38081/ : accessed August 12, 2014), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Boyce Ditto Public Library, Mineral Wells, Texas.
- Photo of bath house courtesy of Crazy Bath House.