A little over a century ago, they were drilling for oil in the woods west of Alexandria, and that's when they hit a gusher. It wasn’t oil, but warm, mineral-rich water.
“And one of the crew people on that well crew had little problems with his hands, had a little eczema on there and he started treating his hand and he cleared up,” said Larry Jorgensen. “And from there word of sort of spread that there was magical water in Hot Wells.”
“At one time they were four or five very prosperous hotels here,” Jorgensen said.
Jorgensen is a journalist and author who has written a book about what he calls a Louisiana ghost.
A decaying building is one of only a few remaining structures - a grocery store operated by Nora Shaw. It shut down in the 1990s.
This three-unit apartment building was once a resort hotel at Hot Wells, but little else remains. The hilltop resort hotel, spa and swimming pool are gone. In 2006 the state tore down the dilapidated buildings that were on the old resort site. Marylin Farrar was the last resort manager when it was owned by the state.
“It was June 1, 1986, when I locked the door,” she said. “It was a sad day, it really, really was. Because I knew the potential was there, but it just didn't have the funds.”
There had always been high hopes for the struggling resort. It went through different owners before that state took over the property.
“LSU would one time look into the content of the water and said it was dozens of times more mineral-rich than anything you would find like in Hot Springs, Arkansas,” Jorgensen said. “Gov. Davis once said that this would be to Louisiana what Hot Springs is to Arkansas.”
“I was a teenager, I guess, early teens, and Saturday afternoons or Sunday afternoons we would, the family would go out to Hot Wells,” Farrar said. “You floated mostly.”
Even today, there are still a few dreamers who think there can be a resort here, that an endless supply of warm mineral water can provide the attraction that can revive these old ghosts.