Becoming Healthy With Crazy Water In Texas



Drinking Your Way To Health: Crazy Water Mineral Wells

The Texan Mineral Wells That Started A Community Along The Brazos River Thanks To Its Health Benefits

Famous Mineral Water Company Statue [Courtesy/Visit Mineral Wells]

Digging a well isn’t that unusual in Texas, but the wells that put a town 50 miles west of Fort Worth on the map didn’t pump oil. The mineral waters that came from the ground in this community along the Brazos River proved so beneficial to health that a major resort sprang up, becoming a tourist destination in the early years of the 20th Century. Mineral Wells, the ads said, was where “America drinks its way to health.”

It all began back in 1877, according to Carol Elder, proprietor of the last remaining water pavilion in the town of Mineral Wells, when the sickly Lynch family got stalled on their migration farther west. The Comanches were on the war path, and the valley near the Brazos was fertile, green and quite scenic. James Lynch built a homestead, and a few years later, decided to drill a well to eliminate trips down to the river. The well water tasted funny, but it didn’t kill the cattle, so the family began drinking it. Soon the rheumatism that had plagued James and his wife disappeared and the nine sickly children began to thrive. Word spread fast and soon thousands of people were camping out around the Lynch acreage. James decided to lay out a town and sell lots, and Mineral Wells was born.

“The town exploded,” Elder says. By 1909, 46 hotels and boarding houses were operating in the town, with 150,000 coming annually seeking relief for everything from arthritis to acid reflux. The town boasted a theater, a casino, and two streetcars. Doctors opened clinics and, by the stock market crash of 1929, several posh resorts housed visitors. The largest, the 14-story, 450-room Baker Hotel, attracted Hollywood celebrities to its roof-top dance terrace and Olympic size pool.

Numerous deep wells were dug to tap the water hidden beneath the region’s thick blue shale, an aquifer filled with what today is known popularly as alkaline water. “There were probably ten different water companies, each offering their unique water,” Elder tells The Buzz. “The most famous was the Crazy Water well.”

The Crazy Water Well [Courtesy/Visit Mineral Wells]
Famous Water Company Sign [Courtesy/Visit Mineral Wells]

Though details are vague, the Crazy got its name from a woman back in the 1880s who suffered from a mental disturbance. She sipped the well water twice a day, and soon became “cured of her crazy.” While no one is really sure what ailed her, Carol Elder thinks that lithium, found naturally in the water, and used today to treat bipolar disorders, may have done the trick.

Now, most of the wells are capped and the resort hotels are closed, but ten years ago Carol and her husband Scott, set about reviving the Crazy Water brand. “We were living in Houston, and looking for a smaller town to raise our kids,” Carol recalls. “I was from here, and when we looked at available properties, we found we could get a restored house - and a commercial water operation - for a really reasonable price.”

The Famous Water pavilion, the last of its kind, was being operated part time as a heritage tourism project by the Mineral Wells Area Visitors Bureau. The Elders discovered they had three wells on their property. Two were the Famous Water wells operated by a prominent pharmacist, Ed Dismuke, dating to 1904. Another belonged to Dr. Norwood, a respected physician with his own hospital.

“Dr. Norwood would give his patients prescriptions that would say, ‘drink two glasses of #2 and one of #3 a day,’ referring to how the wells in the area were numbered,” Carol says. “So when we took over we decided to bring back the numbering system.”

Today, the Elders offer three types of bottled Crazy Water, each with the history of MIneral Springs on the label. The “craziest” is #4, with the highest mineral content, including a significant trace amount of lithium. Dr. Norwood’s old well contributes water #2. The chemical makeup of each is listed on the Crazy Water website.

The Baker Hotel [Courtesy/Visit Mineral Wells]
Guests Drink The Crazy Water At The Hotel [Courtesy/Boyce Ditto Public Library]

While “taking the waters” has waned as a health treatment, Dustin Strong, a board-certified holistic nutritionist based in Mansfield, TX, makes Crazy Water an important part of his practice. “It has an amazing balance of magnesium to calcium that most modern diets are low in,” he tells The Buzz. “My favorite is #3, because of the trace amounts of potassium and zinc. My clients report feeling more hydrated without having to drink so much water.” Strong says he suggests Crazy Water for nausea and digestive problems, as well as to expectant mothers for the calming effects. “People like to have the option of drinking Crazy Water, as opposed to taking another pill,” Strong says.

Today, Crazy Water enjoys an increasing popularity as a natural sports drink among athletes as well as people who work outdoors in the Texas heat. “They say they can tell the difference in their endurance and recovery times, as compared with sports drinks with synthetic minerals added,” Elder says. “The water comes out of the ground the same today as did 100 years ago. It’s naturally alkaline.”

Carol and Scott continue to operate the century-old Famous Water pavilion in downtown Mineral Wells. “People can belly up to the bar, and sample all the different waters,” Carol says. “Folks say their ancestors came here by wagon with a big jug to fill. Now they are suffering from the same complaints and want to try what worked for their grandparents.” Visitors can fill their own containers for a small fee. Like the water pavilions of days gone by, the Elders also offer a place to play dominoes and checkers, a peaceful garden, and a shop stocked with souvenirs handmade in Texas.

The Elders have been expanding as well. “People kept asking us for mineral baths, so three years ago we opened the Crazy Water Bathhouse where you can soak in #3 water,” Carol says. “And right now, we’re renovating the 1919 bottling plant where Crazy Crystals were made and shipped all over the country to use for our own products.” Another group is renovating the old Baker Hotel, and new attractions are being added for visitors.

“Mineral Wells is waking up and coming back to life,” Carol says. “It’s been crazy around here.”

Renee Wright

A graduate of Franconia College in Social Psychology, Renee has worked as Travel Editor for Charlotte Magazine and has written three travel guidebooks for Countryman Press among other writing assignments. She enjoys food and camping.

Weatherford/Forth Worth West KOA

Make Sure To Stay At:

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