A Brief Sketch Of This Thriving Little Village
Its Business Houses
(ORLEANS PROGRESS, October 10, 1895)
Eighteen miles southwest of Orleans, on the O. W. B. &
F. L. branch of the Monon Railway we find this thriving, hustling little town,
of about 250 inhabitants. The town derives its name from the West Baden Springs
which are found here in close proximity to the town. It is situated on a
hillside facing the west and extends down to the level plain that lies between
the two hills, and through which French Lick Creek threads it sinuous way on
its journey to its junction with Lost River. The railroad runs at the base of
the hill and the depot is close to the business of the town. Bit a few short
years ago West Baden consisted of two or three dilapidated old houses, one of
which was used for a storeroom while the upstairs part was used as a dwelling.
This building is still standing, but has been remodeled and so changed that its
former occupants would not recognize it. In those days visitors to the Springs
were hauled back and forth in hacks from Orleans, Mitchell and Shoals. Then the
hotels at the Springs would have been taxed to their utmost to take care of a
hundred people. Persons who have not seen West Baden in ten years would be
amazed at the changes that has been made. The hillside that was formerly turned
over to the cattle and hogs for pasture is now dotted with beautiful cottages
and peopled with the best people our land affords. Where there was formerly but
one store carrying a few dollars worth of staple goods, a few bottles of patent
medicine, such as Hosteller's Bitters, Ayer's Ague Cure, &c., we now find a
half dozen large and commodious business houses, one of the largest retail
stores in the county, two drugstores, three saloons, one restaurant,
first-class in all its appointments, one large flouring mill and three large
and elegantly equipped hotels. At the Springs where the hotel accommodations
were very scant, we now find a hotel that can accommodate a thousand or twelve
hundred people. A mammoth structure lighted by electricity and heated by steam
It used to be the case that West Baden had no saloon and the popular idea was that a saloon would be a losing venture in that place owing to the antagonistic effect to alcohol that the water exercised on a man's system, but with the advent of new business and the upbuilding of the place, the saloons come, and they doubtless come to stay. Where there used to be no saloons there are now three and enjoy a fair trade. Among these perhaps the most popular of all is the gentlemen whose name heads this article, the popular proprietor of the West Baden Saloon. Mr. Miller is of German descent and is a practical barkeeper, having become acquainted with the business during his connection with Mat Klarer, proprietor of one of the most popular saloons in New Albany, where Mr. Miller was barkeeper for a number of years. He has a cozy little room, neatly papered and furnished with all the requirements of a first-class bar, and is deservedly popular with all classes of people. He is thoroughly acquainted with the desires of his customers and nothing but the choicest brands of whiskey and wines find a place on his bar. The celebrated Anheuser-Busch beer is sold here and its name is a synonym for purity and excellence. The quiet orderly house kept by Mr. Miller makes it a pleasant place to refresh the inner man and you can always rely on getting the best in town.
Mt. Arie Observatory
Starting from West Baden and
following the wagon road westward as it climbs the steep mountain side, a mile
and a quarter away you find Mt. Arie, the second highest point of land in the
State and more than five hundred feet higher than the valley at West Baden.
Here but a few years ago was a dense forest, inhabited by wild animals and
rattlesnakes, and was the hiding place of a band of outlaws that inhabited this
section of country. Here on the summit of the mountain the body of Mart Archer
was found where he had been cruelly murdered one evening in '82, and the
foundation of the feud that resulted so disastrously to both sides was laid. No
one ever thought of using this lace for any practical purpose and the dense
undergrowth and the denizens of the forest held undisputed possession.
DR. JOHN A. RITTER, JR.
A sketch of West Baden's business and business men would be incomplete without mentioning the name of Dr. John A. Ritter, Jr., who has grown up with West Baden and who has done more towards the upbuilding of the town than anyone now living there.Although just in the prime of life he has been connected with its business interests for a decade and has watched and participated in its growth from a mere country postoffice to a thriving little town that in ten years has become famous as a watering place and is visited by thousands of visitors each year, from every quarter of the globe. He began business twenty years ago with a small stock of drugs and has been so successful that he has been compelled to erect new buildings to make room for his constantly increasing trade. His present place of business is in a large two story frame fronting the railroad where he has the nicest and fullest equipped drugstore in our county. The Dr. is a graduate of the Louisville Medical College, and ranks among the leading practitioners of our county. He thoroughly understands the use of the Mineral Waters, having been for eighteen years the physician at the Springs and has lately perfected a process by which the waters of the various Springs can be solidified and compressed into tablets. These are known as the
WEST BADEN MINERAL SPRINGS TABLETS
and are being placed on the market new. They have only been manufactured about two months, but the business has grown so that they find it impossible to manufacture them fast enough to supply the demand. Orders are pouring in from all parts of the country and the prospects for the future are very flattering. The Tablets wherever they have been used give entire satisfaction and will eventually take the place of the water which must need be bottled and shipped making it more expensive, and less satisfactory to the invalid who finds in the Tablets all the ingredients to be found in the Spring water and retaining all the gases which must necessarily escape from the water in shipping. The Tablet Company, of which Dr. Ritter is the leading spirit, have about perfected arrangements by which the Tablets will be extensively advertised next season and no delays in shipping goods will be experienced. In addition to his other business Dr. Ritter owns and operated the
a large and commodious hotel, handsomely furnished throughout, where those who are not able to enjoy the luxuries of the West Baden Hotel can find a comfortable boarding house at less expensive rates. The hotel is under the direct supervision of Mrs. Ritter, whose accomplishments as a hostess have added largely to the wholesome hospitality of the house. The service is of the best, the rooms clean and airy and the air of real genuine home-like comfort that pervades the place makes it a really desirable place to step. The Dr. also dabbles in real estate and lumber and has some valuable town lots for sale. In fact if you are looking for a trade just drop in and see him and you can get what you want.
Besides the above named places we find
THE BURTON HOUSE
a hotel that in its appointments compares favorably with any hotel in this country, presided over by Adam Burton and his estimable wife, who have made the Burton House justly popular, so much so that it has been crowded during the entire season.
Where you can find all the delicacies of a city market. This place is owned and operated by T. E. Caplinger, of Paoli, who is a thorough restaurateur and enjoys a fair trade.
This hotel has the distinction of being operated by a colored lady and is strictly first-class all through. Mrs. Faulkner is a fine cook and her guest are treated to the finest the market affords.
No. 8 Fine Wines and Liquors - Ed Ballard
About two years ago John W. Felknor purchased from George W. Campbell the large two story framed building fronting the railroad directly across the track from the depot and applied for license to retail liquor. He placed in charge of the place the above named gentleman who, by his genial manner and his courteous treatment of his guest, soon made the saloon the popular resort for those bibulously inclined. Mr. Ballard is a young man raised in and around West Baden and s a practical saloon keeper. He is genial, courteous and big-hearted and his pocketbook is always open to appeals for charity. He is universally like by the people among whom he was raised and is deservedly popular with the guest. The name of his place, No. 8, was given to his place by James E. Callahan, of the firm of Callahan & Co., Book Publishers, of Chicago, who is a staunch friend of Mr. Ballard's and who never fails to visit him when on his trips to West Baden. Ed's friends are numbers by his acquaintances and he possesses that peculiar faculty of never forgetting a face. He will remove his place next Spring three doors south to a new building that will be erected this winter where he will be found next season, at home to all his old friends, with the finest line of liquors to be found in West Baden.