Located about an hour west of Fort Worth, Mineral Wells is a small town built on the idea of wellness, as people flocked to the area starting in the late 1800s to drink the local well water that became famous for its healing properties. This history, combined with the area’s numerous outdoor pursuits, led a group of locals on the path to getting Mineral Wells designated as the official Wellness Capital of Texas by the state legislature.
On June 18, after months of waiting on the bill to make its way through the legislative process for state capital designation, the city of Mineral Wells finally earned the official title of the Wellness Capital of Texas, one of eight new ones added to the list of official capital designations.
Mineral Wells’ wellness history begins in 1881, when Judge James Alvis Lynch, who had a homestead and raised livestock near the Palo Pinto Hills, laid out the town after discovering that the funny-tasting well water he was drinking had cured his and his wife’s rheumatism. Soon, people were coming by the thousands to drink from the well on Lynch’s property. More wells were drilled to meet demand, including the famous Crazy Well dug in 1885 that earned its name from a storied old “crazy” woman who drank from it twice a day and eventually overcame her illness.
Go Crazy in Mineral Wells
At the Crazy Water Bath House and Spa, take a 20-minute soak in a mineral bath (Crazy Water No. 3 is pumped through the faucet) to soothe your ailments. Oxygen-rich micro-bubbles are injected into the water to promote exfoliation, cleanse, and moisturize. Follow it up with an in-house massage, scrub, or facial.
Just up the street, the historic Crazy Water Hotel’s water bar lives on in its original spot from the hotel’s 1927 opening. The water bar serves all the Crazy Water varieties, plus teas and sodas infused with Crazy Water. Try the Crazy Fizz Sorbetto Float made with housemade sorbetto and floated with carbonated Crazy Water.
More than 125 wells were dug across town during this time, making Mineral Wells an important spa/wellness destination in the South, with more than 150,000 visitors traveling through. By 1920, the town had 400 mineral wells and was known as the South’s greatest health resort with bathhouses, spas, and drinking pavilions. Over time, though, the hype over natural healing dwindled, and interest in mineral water waned, which caused most of the water companies and wells in Mineral Wells to close by the 1940s. All but one survives today, the Famous Mineral Water Company, serving Crazy Water since 1904.
Fast-forward to 2022. This rich wellness history sparked a few locals to reach out to the state representative of their district, Glenn Rogers, for help in obtaining an official Wellness Capital designation. He filed the bill on Nov. 14, 2022. “There were over 12,000 bills that were filed, including resolutions, this session,” Rogers says. “Out of those 12,000, only about 1,256 actually made it to the governor’s desk.”
The bill was referred to the Culture, Recreation, and Tourism Committee in March, and a hearing was held on April 13 at the Texas Capitol in Austin. Mayor Regan Johnson; Carol Elder, owner of Famous Mineral Water Company; and Rose Jordan, the director of tourism and marketing for the city of Mineral Wells presented their case for why their town should have this wellness designation. After the bill went through the usual committee processes, which can take months, the bill passed in both the Senate and the House and then landed on the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott, who signed it on May 18.
So, 142 years after James Alvis Lynch discovered the miracle water that cured his rheumatism, Mineral Wells finally was officially designated the Wellness Capital of Texas, which leads to the question: Why did it take so long?
It turns out that that decrease in wellness interest years ago, coupled with a disease that cripples lots of small towns—lack of attractions—are the reasons. “Most would not have considered our town a wellness destination for the last few decades,” Jordan says.
Still, Mineral Wells has an abundance of one aspect of wellness: outdoor pursuits. “Until around 2014, wellness tourism and wellness destinations were focused on spas and medical wellness,” she explains. “Since 2014, the No. 1 thing a wellness-minded traveler looks for is opportunities to experience nature, and nature experiences abound here.”
Mineral Wells is home to four lakes, three state parks, more than 30 miles of hiking and biking trails, the only natural rock-climbing area in North Texas, botanical gardens, and the widest stretch of the Brazos River for paddling. After spending time outside on the water or hiking, visitors can head back into town, and experience the old-school wellness revival taking place at venues like the Crazy Water Bath House and Spa and Crazy Water Hotel (see sidebar for more information).
The iconic Baker Hotel & Spa, a Mineral Wells landmark since the Roaring ’20s, is also on the horizon, with renovations and a full spa and mineral baths expected to be complete in 2025. More spas in the area are planned as well, making Mineral Wells the small-town wellness getaway you didn’t know you needed. Now with the official capital designation, Mineral Wells is well on its way to being a hot destination again.