Coming for the Cure

In the early 1800s, many people believed that mineral springs water, especially sulphur water, was beneficial to one’s health. It was proclaimed to “cure” everything from skin ailments and indigestion to life threatening diseases such as liver and kidney disease. Both drinking and bathing in the curative water were prescribed.
At that time, places such as Saratoga Springs, NY, made “taking the waters” not only a healthful trend, but also a fashionable way to see and be seen. Smaller spas began developing further south and west, a number of them in Tennessee, such as Tyree Springs, Red Boiling Springs, and Beersheba Springs. These allowed the upper middle class to travel shorter distances to “take the cure,” while also enjoying the social life.

Circa 1830 construction of Castalian Springs Inn (later called Wynnewood) was completed. It served travelers on the major thoroughfare coming into Tennessee, the western frontier at that time. It was also built to attract resort guests to the "curative" sulphur springs. In the late 1830s, the Gallatin Union & Sumner Advertiser (newspaper) declared, “The Castalian Springs is becoming a place of considerable resort ... this most excellent water is considered equal to any in the United States.” In 1834, the Wynnes became sole proprietors and the inn became their home.  They continued to accommodate resort guests and boarders. They built additional guest rooms, a race path, and an ice house. In spite of these amenities, the resort business struggled.  Their mineral springs business continued up until the outbreak of The Civil War.

The resort did not fully operate again until 1899, when the three remaining Wynne daughters leased it to an outside manager named Blakemore. He reopened the “Castalian Springs Hotel” after building a dance pavilion, a ten pin alley, and a pool room. He also constructed twenty summer cottages on the hillside behind the inn. One of these cottages still stands on the hill and houses an exhibit of sports equipment from that time. Entertainment would include fishing, exploring, and donkey parties.

A horse-drawn hack made two trips a day to meet L&N trains in Gallatin, with the fare being fifty cents. A daily stage was also available to guests. In the summer season of 1900, guest rates were $7.00, $8.00, or $9.00 per week and $25.00 to $35.00 per month, depending on the number in the party, length of stay, and type of room. First-class cooks were on staff and, of course, “the waters” were abundant for drinking and bathing. In June of that year, there were forty-nine registered guests, all from surrounding counties. By July the register showed guests from other states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, DC. In 1906 George Winchester Wynne (age 19), grandson of the builder, returned to manage “Castalian Springs Hotel” for his surviving aunts, Susan and Louise. By 1914 both medical science and travel trends had advanced beyond “the cure” of the waters. At that point, the Wynnes closed the resort and concentrated their efforts on progressive farming.