Eureka Springs has been described in so many ways as to its topography and terrain.
Dougherty and Sarchet Directory of 1881 described Eureka Springs as:
“The streets are very narrow, precipitous and serpentine.
“The location of ‘Eureka' is picturesque in the extreme, being scattered over the mountain tops, clinging to the mountain sides, and nestling in the great gorges, that extends in various directions in the wide spread corporate limits of the city. "
THE DAILY GRAPHIC, Tuesday, May 9, 1882
The mountains are 600 to 1,000 feet high. Six or more gulches meet forming the city’s site, and on the sides of the various mountains, with scarcely a foot of level ground, the city has been built. The houses rise tier above tier, and cling to the mountainside like a frightened monkey to a bareback horse, each structure being in immediate peril on going roof-first into the gulch below.
The streets, at places eighty feet apart, are fully half that distance above each other, they mount one above the other like giant steps; the buildings, four stories in front, are one storied in the rear, or vice versa. Building lots for structures of any importance are gained only by blasting, and so rapidly is this being pushed that each arrival may well imagine the constant sound of blasting to be so many salutes fired in his honor
No other such medley of buildings, such piling up of residences tier on tier till the mountain top is reached; such a conglomeration of nationalities, such poverty, such fantastic forms of disease and medley worse confounded of ails can be found in the nation’s compass.
L.J. Kalklosch – Healing Fountain – 1879-81
The location of the famous city is in Carroll County, on the headwaters of Leatherwood Creek, a tributary to White River, and about nine miles from the Missouri line. There are many small streams, fed by unfailing springs, making their swift passage over the pebbles as constant as the motion of the earth.
The country surrounding the Springs is indeed very peculiar. By climbing to the summit of the highest hills, the surface being visible from the tops and waving boughs of the evergreen trees, showing ridges, coves, canyons, or gulches, from the uniform growth of the timber always corresponding to the ground beneath.
The Surface of the ground has many indications of having been at some age exposed to volcanic action and great disturbances by earthquakes. The ground is covered with a kind of flinty gravel of nearly all imaginable shapes, and many of these are covered with beautiful crystals, presenting a most beautiful appearance.
There is also a limestone which, owing to the heat to which it has been exposed, presents the appearance of marble and granite, and by many supposed to be such.
The hills and gulches were made bare by the axe of the pioneer woodman. The stately pine, the strong oak, and the beautiful waving cedar, all had to bow to the same fate, and fall before the axe, wielded by the strong arm of the wood man.
The destruction continued until the first settlements have but few of the primitive trees to tell the sad story of the once happy forests.
On one of the hills, northeast of the city, fossils of shells, nuts, acorns, and various kinds of wood are found, and the hill has been named the Petrified Forest; here can also be found specimens of beautifully crystallized rocks of various colors.
By 1881, Main Street was about two miles in length, leading from the northern to the southern extremities of the city. The part first surveyed was now almost a solid row of houses.
The City of Eureka Springs – Charles Cutter – 1884
The hills – or mountains, as they are more generally called – are about 300 to 500 feet above the lowest portion of the valley on Main Street, which is the principal business street and thoroughfare, extending from the depot to the extreme upper end of the city, following the course of Leatherwood Creek for a distance of nearly two miles. From this main valley several branches extend to the right and left and up all the narrow gulches, through which clear streams flow, streets or roads have been made, which are lined with houses for a distance of one-half mile to one mile from Main Street. Houses have also been built on the side of the mountains on each side of these narrow valleys, as well as upon the very tops of them. Roads lead along all the ridges from one mountain-top to another, joining where both ridges meet at the head of the little valley, and also with the roads running through them. Some of these streets are in excellent order, showing that an immense amount of labor has been expended upon them, – especially Spring Street, which commences at Main Street opposite the Basin Spring, and circling around, passes the Perry House, Brick Bank building, Hancock House, and some of the best business blocks in the city. Houses line all these roads and streets everywhere, the usual size of the lots being 40 feet front.
The majority of houses in the city are those that were hastily put up to secure the lots upon which they were placed, as the land all belonged to the Government, and many more of these buildings were built than are needed, though at one time all were filled, and all of the best are used every summer. When the first excitement was at its height, everybody thought that if they could only secure a lot (which could be done by building upon it), their fortune was made.
Over forty springs furnish the citizens and visitors of Eureka with pure, sparkling water and within two miles of the center of the city there are nearly two hundred. So pure, indeed, is the water from most of these springs, that they can hardly be termed “mineral waters;” this fact has been established, and their efficacy proven by the thousands of cures made by their use.
W. W. Johnson’s Booklet – 1885
The topography of the place is remarkable; and all the descriptions of the place (and hundreds have been written) are tame and fail to convey a correct view of the appearance of the hills and valleys. It has to be seen to be appreciated.
There is a gulch running from northeast to southwest about one and a half miles long, and other gulches at right angles with these, and from these gulches the hills rise at an angle of 45º, more or less, until the tops are reached.
About half way up the mountain-side is what is known as the bench, a comparatively level strip along the side of the mountain, apparently caused by the earth sliding away from the perpendicular wall of rocks that presents itself in many places.
The streets of the city are constructed on the line of these benches and gulches.
The hills have a growth of pine, oak, cedar, gum, and other trees. These, where left undisturbed, present a beautiful appearance, clothing the rugged hills with verdure, during winter and summer. Again we say, the place has to be seen to be understood, and we leave this to be studied by visitors for themselves.
Cora Pinkley-Call — Stair, Step Town — 1950
The location of Eureka is picturesque in the extreme, being scattered over the mountain tops, clinging to the mountain sides, and nestling in the great gorges, that extend in various directions in the wide-spread corporate limits of the city.
The location of Eureka Springs is the last one in the world which would ordinarily have been chosen for a town site. The formation of the surrounding mountains is a geological confusion. All around the Old Indian Healing Spring, which was the sole cause of the town having- been founded, is one vast upheaval of steep forested hills with deep wooded canyons between them. There are no valleys; the only level spots in the entire city were found upon the mountain tops.
Eureka Springs has been called "The Town That Climbs The Mountain." When one first views it from the mountain top it gives the impression of a vast array of houses and other buildings of various forms and sizes halted momentarily in an attempt to scale the mountain height. The houses are not in tiers, yet they rise one above the other on the steep hillsides supported by miles and miles of fine retaining walls. Every spot upon which a human abode could be erected has been utilized. Some of the houses perch boldly upon cliffs and jutting boulders, some span deep gulches and brooklets or rest upon crags and grottoes.
Weekly Flashlight -- 1925
It is built on a mountain side, therefore is a place of crooked and narrow streets. There are grottoes and rockeries, and there are winding ways from which you look down upon the home roofs; and you find unexpected paths which lead to unexpected steps, those in their turn leading to unlooked for streets you have left.
So Eureka Springs seems to stand like a gate to what is beyond.
But the quaintness of the town may hold a certain drawback if what a blacksmith’s boy told was true. For he said that because of the nature of the streets and the hilliness of the country round about the place, no circus had ever been there, nor was likely to get there.
One writer assessed the town as being spread upon mountains and hollows, but it was not that the mountains were so high, it was that the hollows were so deep!
The depth and breadth of ups and downs are very difficult to discern when viewing aged photographs. A flattened two-dimensional photograph, whether cluttered with close-knit structures, or sparse as laid against the background of a rising mountain that hides its "benches and gulches" from the viewer. Nevertheless, it is indeed a challenge to "peruse" the photographs in attempting to determine where the captured structures once existed in time and place as it relates to current physical addresses of buildings and residences that have almost altogether replaced their former structures.
Therefore, you are challenged to refute the "Perusals" offered in this website, and furthermore, you are challenged to submit your own "Perusals" for posting here.
Click any below for early photos