The story of Louisiana’s forgotten hot springs

Over 100 years ago west of Alexandria, Louisiana oil drillers hit a gusher.

Located about 16 miles west of Alexandria on Bayou Rapides Road and Highway 121 was the Hot Wells Resort, near Boyce, Louisiana, and present-day Cotile Lake.

Hot Wells: The Early Years

The small community of Hot Wells dates back to the 1830s. The curative and therapeutic waters were discovered there in early 1913 by a crew drilling for oil. The workers uncovered a well flowing with hot water from half-mile underground. One worker washed his hands in the water and the next day a skin rash, that had bothered him for years, was cleared up. The “wonder waters” contained magnesium and three forms of calcium.  News spread about the healing waters, and the site became popular. In 1917 the Hot Wells Sanitarium Company opened a spa and swimming pool along with a hotel and restaurant.

The Facilities at the Hot Wells Resort

Over the years a full resort with hotel rooms, spa, restaurant, and pool were built. The grounds offered a quiet respite for guests, and were covered with trees and places to walk.

Guests playing shuffleboard at the Hot Wells Resort in Central Louisiana near Boyce

Guests could choose from a hot mineral bath, whirlpool or regular, or a massage. In addition to the baths, guests also could use a pool in which they could stick their feet and hands in the water.  The motel offered apartments or kitchenettes, a restaurant specializing in Louisiana cuisine, playground, picnic facilities, shuffleboard courts, and a fresh-water swimming pool.  We remember dangling our feet in the hot steaming waters of the original well at the bottom of the hill during the 1950s.

The Slow Demise of the Hot Wells Resort

In 1938, Hot Wells came under the control of the Louisiana Department of Hospitals. The State poured money into the resort over the years, but waning popularity meant continued financial losses. It was refurbished again in 1983 but the resort continued on it destination to failure. It was closed to the public for the last time in 1986, and used by the Louisiana National Guard for a time thereafter. In early 2007 the buildings were demolished by the State of Louisiana.   Today, the main buildings of the resort are gone, but some structures, homes and buildings remain in the small community of Hot Wells.