Twilight Tours at West Baden Springs
Sandi Woodard, Indiana Landmarks Center
During its early days, the majestic West Baden Springs Hotel in Orange County was a retreat for the rich and famous, who sought out the healing mineral springs, luxuriated in the spa and rolled dice in the valley’s casinos. On select Saturdays through October, Indiana Landmarks will present Twilight Tours, a lively trip back into time, where visitors will meet costumed characters representing guests and employees of West Baden during the ‘teens and ‘20s.
A guide portraying a long-time, early 20th-century hotel employee will lead visitors through the “Eighth Wonder of the World” and its grounds. Along the way, they’ll meet famous and notable guests, including: Col. Bliss, commander of US Army Hospital No. 35 (the Army leased the hotel as a hospital from September 1918 through April 1919); Walter Hagen, who won the PGA at French Lick in 1924; Helen Keller, who was a guest at the hotel’s grand opening; author Edna Ferber; Chicago mob boss Big Jim Colosimo (see photo above); and Margaret Brown, better known as the “Unsinkable Molly Brown,” who survived the sinking of the Titantic and though may not have been a guest of the hotel, was a well-traveled woman of the era.
Visitors also will hear from hotel employees and entertainers, such as Mademoiselle Louise, the hotel’s resident palmist/mentalist in the early 20th century; Fern Brown, a hotel cashier; Charles Rexford, West Baden’s hotel manager; and Dr. Hassenmiller, the hotel physician.
The 75-minute tour will end before 10 p.m. – the hotel’s universal bedtime during its heyday.
After the tour, visitors are welcome to enjoy one of the hotel’s restaurants, visit the French Lick Resort Casino, take a moonlight stroll in the gardens or check into one of the recently renovated rooms.
For more information or to make a Twilight Tour reservation, contact Sandi Woodard, French Lick-West Baden Program Coordinator, at 812-936-4034, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.