Bullard first examines the development of mineral water resorts in Europe from ancient times, early spa traditions in America, and Missouri’s frontier spas. He then discusses the establishment of saltworks at the state’s saline springs and the importance of the early salt trade; the brisk business that grew around the bottling of mineral waters; the use and development of mineralized groundwater resources; the geologic and biologic factors that create Missouri’s mineral waters; and public and professional belief in the curative values of mineral waters.
also traces the demise of Missouri’s mineral water resorts and towns. Well into the twentieth century, when modern medicine had seemingly taken hold, many physicians and scientists continued to proclaim the medicinal virtues of mineral waters. However, by the second quarter of the twentieth century, medical science and popular opinion had discounted the immediate medical usefulness of mineral waters. As advances were made in microbiology and biochemistry, and with the inherent promise of drug cures, orthodox medicine began to turn a cold shoulder on mineral water treatments. Spa treatments, with their long regimens, also did not fit well with the increasingly fast-paced lifestyles of the public.
By visiting the sites, gathering local historical accounts, interviewing local citizens, and photographing remaining artifacts, Bullard has done a masterful job in providing the answers to why these vibrant social centers came to be and why they faded.