Arkansas PBS > Programs > City of Visitors

City of Visitors: The Story of Hot Springs

There is only one reason for Hot Springs, Arkansas to exist. For centuries, people have been drawn to the mysterious, thermal water that flows from the side of Hot Springs Mountain. Legends grew about the water's curative properties, and soon people from all over the world began to visit and bathe in the warm spring water. The town has always been a city of visitors, and all of the businesses in town evolved to meet the needs of the visitors.

As the bathing industry grew, other forms of entertainment also began to flourish. Gambling, prostitution, and liquor seemed to go hand-in-hand with a visit to the spa. The only problem with these forms of entertainment was they were illegal. One of the constant questions facing the citizens of Hot Springs was how openly to allow these illegal activities to operate.

The town developed into one of the top health resorts in the country. Any one who was “anyone” came to Hot Springs because it was the place to be. But it was all built on a system of government that catered to money and power and fear. Eventually, the changes sweeping across the new South after World War II hit the town of Hot Springs, and things were never the same.

City of Visitors is the story of how Hot Springs developed as a town with a split personality. It's the story of the people who made the city one of the most glamorous health treatment centers in the country, as well as the largest illegal gambling operation in the U.S. And it's the story of the people who forced the city to change.

Dale Carpenter Bio

Dale Carpenter is a documentary filmmaker and Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Before joining the journalism faculty in 1994, Carpenter was Senior Producer for the Arkansas PBS in Conway where he worked for ten years producing, photographing, and editing documentaries for public television.

Carpenter's work encompasses a variety of topics, from examining the rights of people with disabilities, to following a team of 8-year olds through a season of Little League baseball, to tracing the history of Arkansas during the Civil War.

His work has won numerous national awards including Gold Medals from the New York Festivals, a Golden "CINDY" award, the "IRIS" award, and four regional "Emmy" awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Carpenter has a B.A. from Vanderbilt University, a Master's degree from Emory University, and completed a cinematography fellowship at the American Film Institute's Center for Advanced Film Studies.

He lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas with his wife, Diane, and three children.

Major funding provided by Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and the Morris Foundation. Addition funding from the Munro Foundation and the C. Lewis Cabe Foundation.
Last Updated 28 Feb 2020