The backup generator will keep the HSNP hot water circulating
With the installation of a new backup generator on the Arlington Lawn this week, Hot Springs National Park’s iconic water will keep flowing regardless of power outages.
On Wednesday, National Park Service workers dug a trench and placed the car-sized generator on Arlington’s lawn. As the area is a historical archaeological site, the excavations had to be supervised. The park’s archaeologist, Victoria Reichard, normally supervised, but she was unavailable, so the park’s museum curator, Tom Hill, replaced him.
“We are installing a backup generator for the cold water station, for the area that cools the water before it goes into the cold water reservoir,” Hill told The Sentinel-Record.
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“So if the electricity goes out, the thermal water system will have this generator that will start and keep the water circulating, so even if we are without electricity, everyone will still have access to the water and the system will not be extinguished.”
Power issues have happened before, Hill said. “If the power goes out, the pump stops, so the water stops flowing. The water always comes out of the ground, it doesn’t stop, but being able to move it to where it needs to be for people who need it. ‘call — if the pumps can’t work, then they can’t get their water.”
The station the generator will work with “takes hot water from the hot water tank, runs it through these big radiators and cools it, and then it’s pumped to a cold water tank,” Hill said. .
“It’s not really cold, it’s just not as hot as thermal water, but it’s the hot and cold that comes out of the tap when you’re in a bath house.”
He said watching the artifacts as workers dig the ground was fun for him, but also necessary to make sure history isn’t lost.
“I’m here, because they’re hand digging this trench, as part of our Section 106 compliance, so we have to have an archeology monitor investigate the work going on in case they would dig up anything,” he said.
Since Hill is not an archaeologist, he saved everything man-made for Reichard to inspect when he returned.
“And since I don’t know what’s historical – maybe it’s just construction debris – we gather whatever they come up with, like bricks and floor tiles, stuff like that, and then we we’ll find out what it is by looking at it after cleaning it,” he said.
Arlington Lawn is the site of Arlington’s first and second hotels, and was also the site of the Big Iron Bath House and the Rector Bath House.
“Because of all of this building activity and all of this human activity on this site, it’s an archaeological site,” Hill said.
“We found floor tiles and burnt bricks and all sorts of things in previous buildings that were here, so every time we dig at this site we have to watch the digging,” he said.
“All ground disturbing activity in the park is monitored by the park archaeologist because you never know what you are going to find. It may be nothing, it may be evidence that there was a building there that we were aware of, or it could be evidence of a building that we didn’t know about, so we’re looking for all kinds of cultural resources,” Hill said.
“Usually Tori has all the fun of going out into the ditch and seeing what they’re digging up, as they go, and then after they’ve cleaned up, she catalogs it and puts it in the collection. I don’t see it until it’s not in a box in a cupboard somewhere, so it’s fun to be here and find it there, as it happens.”
The new generator will be good for the park and the community, Hill said, “because you don’t want the hot water system to shut down, if the power were to go out at any part of the system, then the users, wherever they are, are those who use the thermal water, whether at pitcher fountains or elsewhere, who do not have access to the thermal water, so we make sure that at the unless that part of the system will still work.”