Sweet Springs Missouri Health Resort

The Sweet Springs Grounds, City Park, Ball Fields

Of the history of Sweet Springs, the main defining element of its past is the wonderful natural mineral springs that permeate the area. In fact, it is such an important part of the identity of this town, that it was renamed Sweet Springs in 1887 from Brownsville. The town is the only city located in Salt Pond township, bordering the Blackwater River, and has a storied past. Throughout the mid 1800s, various interests were looking to stimulate interest in the mineral springs of the area but it was difficult to draw people from outside of the area into Sweet Springs due to its location. Largely, if a town wasn't served by the railroad or directly on the Missouri River, its potential for growth and its ability to attract visitors was limited.

The event that changed all of this for Sweet Springs was the addition of rail through the town. From the 1870s, the Lexington Branch of the Missouri Pacific Railway placed Sweet Springs on the map and enabled it to be a destination location for visitors desiring the health benefits of the mineral springs. The town marketed the benefits of the natural environment claiming the springs were beneficial for a variety of ailments including stomach illness, kidney and bladder diseases, cholera, dyspepsia, diabetes, and paralysis. Analysis of the chemical makeup of the central spring in town showed the water contained high percentages of sodium, magnesium, and calcium chloride along with potassium, iron, lime and other ingredients. The mineral springs had less salinity and sulfur than other local springs and were said to be "sweeter" which led to the renaming of the town in 1887 to Sweet Springs. With the addition of the rail in the 1870s, the town also saw an opportunity to bottle and ship its mineral water around the country. The Missouri Mineral Water Company exported the town's prized water.

In 1874, the makings of a health resort were underway and by 1887, a 400 person hotel was under construction which also included a pagoda, bathhouse, bowling alley, billiards hall, livery stable and other recreational facilities. The newly minted Sweet Springs Health Resort opened for business in 1881 and the property included many cottages available for purchase where visitors could stay for the summer to visit the healing springs and enjoy the fresh air. According to records, the resort attracted approximately 6,000 visitors in its first year of operation. The resort also played an important role as host to some of Missouri's most socially and politically connected citizens. This included Governors John S. Marmaduke and Thomas T. Cittenden. In fact, Governor Marmaduke made the resort his summer retreat until his death in 1887.

The Sweet Springs Health Resort began to decline toward the 1890s as the draw of healing health spas began to diminish and other larger and more well-known resorts opened, which drew visistors away from Sweet Springs. In an attempt to maintain the value of the resort, administrators formed the Marmaduke Military Academy and used part of the acreage of the resort to house the academy and the cadets. The resort hotel was used as barracks for the cadets and the establishment of the academy could have been a big plus for the resort property, however, a fire destroyed the hotel in 1896 and the academy ended. At the turn of the twentieth century there were attempts to revitalize the health resort, but the resort never regained its former grandeur and closed. Today, the area where the resort was located, is a town park with a version of the old pagoda to remind residents and visitors of the resort's history in the region.



Vaught Drive, Sweet Springs, MO., 65351 ~ Located at Sweet Spring Ball Fields on Vaught Drive, Columbia Avenue, Union Street, Gusher Street, and Park Road.