Once known as the Valley of the Vapors because of mystical steam that rose from more than forty boiling springs on the side of a mountain, Hot Springs, Arkansas, has been a popular tourist attraction since prehistoric times. First, Indians came from many far away tribes, drawn to the sacred valley for its healing waters, which they believed to be a gift from the Great Spirit. The first white person to visit the springs was Hernando DeSoto, as he with his legions scoured the mountains in search of gold in 1541. During the following centuries, stories of the beautiful valley and its magic waters spread throughout the land, a new nation emerged on the North American Continent. In 1932, the valley and the area surrounding Hot Springs was set aside by Congress as the first reserve for public recreational use. This made it the forerunner of the National Park System. Since then, its colorful history has included the development of a world-famous spa that boasted elegant hotels and bathhouses around the turn of the century. Many unique attractions such as an Ostrich farm, a mountain tower lookout, and thoroughbred horse racing came along with them. Until the 1960s, the city was famous as a gambling center with elegant casinos that hosted big-name entertainers as well as notorious racketeers. Today, Hot Springs National Park is experiencing a rebirth of popularity as a tourist destination for families who come not only to partake in the healing waters, but also to enjoy the areas many attractions. The beautiful mountains surrounded by five lakes that offer many opportunities found nightly in hotels and theaters. A world-class arts community thrives in the restored historic district where visitors can browse through galleries and shops and sample exotic cuisines in the many restaurants. Hot Springs National Park celebrates its past while it looks forward to a promising future.