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  • Writer's pictureDiana McDaniel Hampo

Fordyce-Ricks Estate A Water Wheel and Love Story



I absolutely love walking my dog, Aries, around Stone Bridge in Hot Springs. It's right across

from the entrance to Gulpha Gorge on Park Avenue. There's a lovely trail that meanders


next to a quiet pond (sometimes there are angry geese), past the handsome stone dam and the big old water wheel.


Unlike, Gulpha Gorge and other trails, there's rarely any one else around at Stone Bridge and the brief feeling of solitude is lovely.


This area was originally part of the Fordyce-Ricks estate, purchased in 1878 by Colonel Samuel Fordyce, a rail road magnet from Ohio, who fought for the North in the Civil War.



There's an enormous Adirondack style cabin on top of the hill that Fordyce built between 1904 an 1909. (My son, Jack, dated a girl who lived there in 5th grade so I've been inside several times. It's remarkable! She was a dear girl but I think broke up with him as soon as he kissed her, as I recall.)


Colonel Fordyce also built the gorgeous Fordyce Bath House down town.He died in 1919 and his son John inherited the property. John loved his wife very much and built the beautiful old stone dam on the creek so she could have a pond. He named it Lake Lillian in her honor. He also built the stone bridge at the far end of the pond and the water wheel which originally generated electricity for the house and the outdoor lighting you can still see evidence of.


John Fordyce donated some of the 1,200 acres to the National Park Service and in 1937.

And later sold the estate to Major General Earl T Ricks.


Today the pond is generally called Ricks Pond but I think Aries and I will keep calling it Lake Lillian.


If you enjoy Hot springs Love I hope you'll help support us.

You can do that by visiting www.benicearkansas.com and buying a cool t-shirt or mask. Part of all the proceeds will also be donated to the Arkansas Food bank.


I also hope you read other stories about stuff I love in Hot Springs and share them. If I made any embarrassing historical mistakes forgive me and send me an email.


#hotspringsarkansas #hotspringshistory #fordycericksestate #samuelwfordyce #dogwalksinhotsprings #rickspond



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