Excelsior Springs MO Fun Facts
Excelsior Springs came into existence due to the natural spring water that gushed forth from the depths of the earth. It was discovered by accident in 1880 by a farmer, Travis Mellion, when his daughter Opal fell ill with a form of tuberculosis. He asked for advice from nearby campers, and they suggested the spring that oozed from the bank of the Fishing River. Water was collected and brought to his daughter to drink. Over the course of a few weeks, there was noticeable improvement to her health, and she was eventually cured. A log-cabin farmer, Frederick Kugler, also begin to treat his rheumatic knees and a recurring sore from a Civil War wound, and he was cured of his ailments shortly after.
The city’s first hotel, the Excelsior, was built with a foundation of 30 ft (9.1 m) by 70 feet (21 m), and locals wondered if a hotel that size would ever be filled to capacity. The Excelsior opened its doors for business on March 1, 1881, and quickly proved that it could be filled, with many visitors coming to the small town seeking out the medicinal value to the waters held, many from as far away as St. Louis, St. Joseph, Kansas City, and Leavenworth. The hotel remained the leading place to stay until the first Elms Hotel was built and opened in 1888.
On Election Day 1948, Harry S. Truman spent the night at the Elms Hotel when it appeared that he was losing his re-election bid to Republican Thomas E. Dewey. However, in the wee hours of the morning, he was awakened by his aides informing him that he had, in fact, won the election. He was whisked away to Kansas City. He later was photographed at Union Station in St. Louis holding a copy of the Chicago Tribune that famously proclaimed “Dewey Defeats Truman.”
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