Blue Spring Heritage Center - A Gem of Nature, Eureka Springs, Arkansas

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Finding Blue Spring

Nestled in the Ozark Mountains, you will find a hidden gem of nature in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. 

At Blue Spring, you can experience the serene beauty of nature. On closer inspection, you will find a site rich in history, where you can learn about our country's Native American origins.  This spring serves as a permanent reminder of our roots- and these lands hold history firmly in their gentle embrace. 

You can still clearly see the bluffs where many took refuge centuries ago, and envision countless peoples' journeys through this land, stopping to drink at the spring and finding safety in nature's refuge.  Here you can pay homage to our Native American history, and really envision its role in the significance of not just the United States, but the world. 

The drive to Blue Springs is beautiful- you are surrounded by an overlook of canyons and bluffs.  Here you will find this incredible opportunity to see a spring - a thing of life and joy for weary travelers over the centuries - that still holds meaning today.  

The water of the spring is usually a deep cobalt blue - my photographs were taken after a rain storm, when the lagoon turns a greenish-brown due to the increased water flow.  Other times the lagoon is green. Either way, the different seasons highlight different aspects of the cycle of nature.  The spring is more than 500 feet deep, one of the deepest in Arkansas. 

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History

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As far back as the Archaic period (8000 BC), Indigenous people, known as "Bluff Dwellers," lived here and revered these lands as sacred ground. It is a place recognized in the oral tradition of Native American elders, as the bluffs were also used for sacred rituals (Blue Spring Heritage Center).  Archaeological research performed by the University of Arkansas uncovered animals bones, shellfish, and fauna dating back to 8,000 B.C., as well as pottery from later periods.  (Blue Spring Heritage Center). Oral histories of Tsalagi (Cherokee), Osage, and Quapaw cite journeys to Blue Spring for tens of thousands of years (Blue Spring Heritage Center).  Due to its historical significance in ancient history, Blue Spring was recently added to the National Registrar of Historic Places.

Touring the Grounds 

Blue Spring is a welcoming place. The guide gave us a detailed map of the grounds and explained that you can feed the trout in the lagoon and walk along the banks of the entire lagoon, which the kids loved.  The tour is accessible to strollers and wheelchairs (stairs are optional).  As we entered, we saw a couple touring the grounds, perhaps planning for one of the many wedding ceremonies that take place here. 

My children ran along the nature trail - and found a spot to sit on the edge where the spring rushes into the lagoon (see video above).  Here you can sit and put your feet in the water and feel the rush of water as it pours into the lagoon.  The water feels cold, and you can feel the power of nature as you watch the water flowing.

Blue Spring is tranquil. Water flows consistently - 38 million gallons in fact - from the Spring into a serene lagoon filled with trout, which is connected to the White River.  The water itself is symbolic of the healing connection to nature - which Native Americans celebrate and revere here to this day.

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Blue Spring is a very special place. Here, the Osage Indians, nicknamed "Strongboat Indians," used their boats on trade routes carrying fur, bear oil, and beeswax on the White River on the way to New Orleans (Blue Spring Hertiage Center). The White River being as accessible as it is to view, allows one to envision the land's use as a trading post and the stairs constructed along the banks allow you to see the River from above.

Another thing you come to appreciate here is the sense of strength and resolve that Native Americans displayed in the face of adversity & strife. Once you enter the quiet beauty of Blue Spring, and feel its inviting embrace, you see that there is a reminder of survival through history's tragic turns. In the 1830's Blue Spring was a stop on the Cherokee Trail of Tears which ran from Echota Georgia to Parkhill, Oklahoma.  You will find a sign commemorating this history - noting that of the 13,000 that took this treacherous journey only 7,000 made it to the final stop.  

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Imagining this long, forced journey, and seeing this stop on the Trail of Tears, enabled my children to fully understand its place in history.

Once you continue the nature walk through the grounds, you will find a medicine wheel, reminding us of the incredible power of healing that Native American culture preserves and upholds in its teachings.  This medicine wheel is a circle divided into 4 sections representing  the endless cycle of nature and its connection to all things.  In this quiet garden, you can sit and contemplate the cycle of life, and how the earth heals all things.  After taking time to appreciate this garden, you can continue wrapping around and view the bluffs which provided a shelter.

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Our last stop on the tour was the indoor visitor's center.  It features a video about the history of the area and artifacts found on the land.  Among these items, in the display cases is a poem about the Trail of Tears. By passing on these teachings to my children I realized I was honoring Native Americans' deep cultural respect for their ancestors.  The place holds much wisdom. It is a beautiful reminder of the great teachings found at Blue Spring - there are many things to be learned here. 

 Poem on display at Blue Spring Heritage Center in Exhibit display cases.

Poem on display at Blue Spring Heritage Center in Exhibit display cases.

 
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More Info: 

Blue Spring Heritage Center is 5 ½ miles west of Eureka Springs, Arkansas (10 minutes) off Scenic Highway 62. We are 45 minutes from Rogers, Arkansas, one hour and fifteen minutes from Fayetteville, Arkansas and one hour from Branson, Missouri.

Phone Numbers

Blue Spring Heritage Center
1537 Co Rd 210, Eureka Springs, AR 72632

The tour is handicap accessible

To plan a visit see:

http://www.bluespringheritage.com

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