Henderson Springs Resort

Henderson Springs Resort (HM1F6F)

Location: Pigeon Forge, TN 37863 Sevier County
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Country: United States of America
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N 35° 48.183', W 83° 35.381'

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Henderson's Spring, as listed in early post office records, was a place name in the Pigeon Forge area as early as 1858, just before the Civil War. Elijah Henderson, son of William H. and Mary Catherine Cannon Henderson, and his family developed a popular resort around a mineral spring only 400 feet north of this marker. The mineral water was promoted as an "effective and invigorating tonic." People from miles around brought buckets and filled them with this "special" water that poured from an old gun barrel spout. It was said to be better than "doctorin' medicine." A chemist declared that the spring water contained eleven minerals which included "sulphates," carbonates, chlorides and many other healthy properties.

A two-story wooden hotel was constructed in 1878 across from the spring and consisted of ten rooms, a dining room for eighty, and a spacious kitchen with two huge wood cook stoves. A platform spanned the small branch and led to the spring and concrete spring house where icy cold water kept food fresh. A second platform farther north led to a small concession stand and was an open-air picnic area lined with benches. Neighbors spent many hours here at the "bull pen" visiting with neighbors, smoking cheap Champ Clark cigars, and enjoying the outdoors.

In 1897 a new three-story hotel with 32 rooms, wide halls, and wide stairways was built just north of the old hotel. To the south on a pine-thatched knoll sat an open-air square dance pavilion. Sam Henderson became owner of the resort after his father Elijah died in 1898.

Prominent Knoxville families and others traveled on the Knoxville, Sevierville and Eastern train and by hack to Henderson Springs. The resort charged a dollar a day at the end of the 1800s. There was a daily mail service, and People's Telephone Exchange provided telephone service. Electric lights, powered by a Delco system, were added in the early 1900s. Musicians filled the air with songs from the piano or stringed instruments, and Pinkney Rauhuff called out square dances as guests in their finery whirled and curtsied. They enjoyed straw rides in a horse-drawn wagon and homemade ice cream on Saturday nights. Playing croquet or tennis and swimming in a nearby swimming hole passed the lazy days of summer, and guests also enjoyed fishing and "gunning."

Then the Great Depression came, and Henderson Springs Resort closed in 1930, its buildings left in lonely isolation. The final remaining structure burned in the 1960s, and all that remains of the resort's heyday is the mineral spring.

A battle was fought in this area in the fall of 1894 between a band of vigilantes known as the White-Caps and a counter group named the Blue-Bills. The White-Caps had planned a raid in the community but were thwarted as a result of an informant. Men died on both sides. E.W. Crozier documented this in his 1899 book, The WHITE-CAPS: A History of the Organization in Sevier County. He wrote, "On a cold November night? the people in the neighborhood of Henderson's Springs were startled by the firing, in rapid succession, of perhaps one hundred shots. They were heard for several miles around and ceased as abruptly as they began. For a moment an oppressive stillness reigned, then the clatter of horses' hoofs and the splashing of water could be heard in every direction. Marauding bands of White-Caps were heading for home with the speed of fleet horses, regardless of fences, roads or fords... A detachment each of White-Caps and a sheriff's posse had met on the battlefield and the White-Caps were routed?The conflict took place at a point only one half mile from the famous summer resort, Henderson's Springs, where a narrow road runs around the craggy cliff overhanging the beautiful Pigeon River." Beyond this marker are Battle Hill Road and White Cap Lane, both named for this skirmish.

Caption: The Henderson brothers promised a pleasant stay at this thirty-two room Henderson Springs Resort hotel built in 1897, pictured above. The spacious porches were added in 1914. Spotless linens covered iron beds, and pine-board wash stands held fresh water in ironstone pitchers. Long boardinghouse style tables were laden with country ham, hot biscuits, country butter, fresh garden vegetables and pies. Corn was ground for bread at the mill down the road. (This 1916 photograph is courtesy of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Library and Archives).

Caption: This Henderson Springs Resort facility was photographed in 1916. A large kitchen serviced the dining area for eighty, and there were guest rooms upstairs. R. Leslie Chiles is pictured at left, and his daughter Mary Ruth is at right. (This photograph is courtesy of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Library and Archives.)

Caption: A platform spanned the small branch of water leading to the spring and spring house. Notice the pitcher and the stream of water pouring from a gun barrel spout. Nearby, a second platform led to an open-air picnic pavilion and concession stand. (This 1916 photograph is courtesy of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Library and Archives.)

Caption: Swimmers enjoy the river behind Sam Henderson's grist mill near the corner of present-day Henderson Chapel Road and Riverbend Loop Road. (This 1916 photograph is courtesy of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Library and Archives.)

Dicie Carnes Henderson, pictured at left, was the first wife of Samuel Henderson, owner of Henderson Springs Resort. She died in 1887, giving birth to Dicie Henderson Hatcher, pictured above. (This photograph is courtesy of Agnes Hatcher Marshall.)

Caption: Samuel Henderson with his second wife Sallie Runyan, a descendant of Barefoot Runyan, one of Pigeon Forge's earliest settlers. (Courtesy of Agnes Hatcher Marshall)

HM NumberHM1F6F
Historical Period19th Century
Historical PlaceSmall Business
Marker TypeHistoric Building
Marker ClassNeither
Marker StyleFree Standing
Year Placed2014
Placed ByCity of Pigeon Forge
Marker Condition
10 out of 10 (1 reports)
Date Added Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 at 7:30am PDT -07:00
Photo Credits: [1] PIGEONFORGEIYVC  
Locationbig map
Directions InformationLocated on Henderson Springs Road at intersection with Henderson Springs Blvd.
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 265993 N 3965199
Decimal Degrees35.80305000, -83.58968333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 35° 48.183', W 83° 35.381'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds35° 48' 10.9800" N, 83° 35' 22.8600" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)865
Can be seen from road?Yes
Is marker in the median?No
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling North
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 2475 Henderson Springs Rd, Pigeon Forge TN 37863, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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I Saw The Marker

Located further up Henderson Springs Rd than address states at intersection with Henderson Springs Blvd.

Jun 21, 2016 at 9:06am PDT by pigeonforgeiyvc

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