FRENCH LICK SPRINGS HOTEL

8670 Indiana State Highway 56 (Indiana Avenue), French Lick, IN

(888) 976-3617

Status: Historical 4 Star Hotel/Resort

Website

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History

Long before any hotels were built, or European settlers even came to the new world, there was a salt lick here that the animals visited while using the Buffalo Trace (a tri-State path the buffalo herds used to use while migrating).

The Aboriginal population once used this area as hunting grounds.

In 1826 the State of Indiana authorized salt mining in the area but the saline content was too low to make mining economically feasible, so they sold the property. Two brothers bought 1,500 acres (610 hectares) of the land including an area near the mineral springs.

The first hotel was built on the site in 1845 and was called the French Lick Springs Hotel. It only operated during the summer months but didn’t perform very well financially.

In 1850’s and 1860’s under new management the land area was increased to include the mineral springs.

In the early 1880’s the original hotel was rebuilt and made larger.

In the late 1880’s the hotel was bought by a hotel group based out of Louisville, Kentucky and both the property and the building were expanded. It was said the mineral springs could cure everything from arthritis to gout.

In 1897 the main hotel building was burned down in a fire.

In 1901 the property was bought by a conglomerate of politicians and businessmen who rebuilt and greatly enlarged the hotel.

By 1905 Thomas Taggart, a famous politician, had bought out his partners and became the sole owner.

Under Taggert’s ownership the hotel saw great expansion and the beginning of the true resort. Between 200 and 300 guests were checking in every day and the property was showing approximately $2 million (almost 35.5 million in 2023 dollars) profit.

Taggart died in 1929 and passed the property on to his son. Unfortunately, that was also the year of the Great Stock Market Crash and the beginning of the Great Depression.

The resort went into decline but saved itself by advertising itself as a golf and conference center rather than as a health spa. Business went up during the Second World War but suffered another downfall after the war ended.

In 1946 Taggart’s son sold the property to a group of New York investors who then sold it to Sheraton in 1954. Sheraton spent millions on the property, but it was still showing it’s age.

There were numerous owners until 2005 when the new owner petitioned the State of Indiana for a gambling license which he was granted.

Today the resort includes the hotel, 3 golf courses, the casino, a horse stable, multiple swimming pools and miles of hiking trails as well as many other resort facilities.

 

Paranormal Activity

Thomas Taggart, after pouring his heart, soul and dreams into the hotel, it comes as no surprise that he haunts it today.

His shadowy apparition is often seen near the service elevator. He also makes himself known by the phantom smell of cigar smoke.

Taggart’s apparition has also been seen riding his horse in the ballroom and the halls of the hotel.

Entire parties in the ballroom have been heard behind closed doors. Should the door be opened it all shuts off like a switch.

Front desk clerks have gotten numerous calls from empty rooms with no one on the line; most often from the 6th floor (see below).

In one room a red stain keeps reappearing in the bathtub where a bride killed herself.

An African-American bellhop sometimes shows up in photos of the bellhop station.

Disembodied voices are frequently heard in the halls.

The 6th floor is said to be the most haunted with shadows, unexplained breezes, phantom footsteps and disembodied laughter.