Recently my husband, my two sons and I spent a week in Mineral Wells, Texas. It might seem an odd place to stay, but we had just finished camping at Lake Whitney, and needed another place to go. We had considered going to Possum Kingdom Lake, but couldn’t really hunt down accommodations when we didn’t have our internet connection up and running. Mineral Wells is known for its mineral waters, which have been believed to have curative powers for well over a century. It also has a rich history and many interesting historical buildings.
We were stymied by the heavy rains of 2007, but we didn’t let that stop us from having our fun. We stayed at the Executive Inn in Mineral Wells, which is just a little outside of the main town. This motel actually had some very nice accommodations at a very low price per night, including satellite TV, high speed internet, a refrigerator and microwave oven, and free continental breakfast. On our first night we visited Bari’s Pasta and Pizza, and had a great time eating pizza and Baked Eggplant Florentine.
The hotel had a swimming pool, so my husband and boys had a great time swimming every day even if we couldn’t make it to Possum Kingdom State Park or Lake Mineral Wells State Park. We ate in our room most meals and saved a lot of money. There was a Wal-Mart nearby, so I was able to save money on groceries as well.
There are a lot of interesting sights in Mineral Wells. The first one we noticed was the Baker Hotel. Some people say that it’s haunted. It is definitely abandoned, and has been since 1973. It has been deteriorating since then, and has dozens of broken windows. Unfortunately there are no longer tours of the Baker due to a fire hazard, but you can look at the outside, take pictures and walk along the balcony.
Lake Mineral Wells State Park, which I mentioned, was our real destination. The park offers rock climbing, camping, boating, including boat rentals, and swimming, to name a few activities. We went hiking and we rented a pedal boat to go out on the lake. I found Lake Mineral Wells State Park to be the prettiest of all the Texas State Parks I’ve been to in a long time. There is also a trailway which begins northwest of Weatherford and continues on for twenty miles to the downtown district of Mineral Wells.
Possum Kingdom State Park was a bit more of a drive. I had heard that the lake itself was very pretty, but I wasn’t as impressed with the park itself. It seemed every time we went out that way we were hit with rain, so it was a bit difficult to do our sightseeing and outdoor activities. The cabins which are advertised for $75 and up per night turned out to be made of cinderblock painted green, and I wasn’t impressed with them. The screened in shelters were more rustic, although they offered fewer amenities, and left you at the mercy of the weather and the bugs. That ultimately had been the reason why we bailed out of Lake Whitney. It’s always easier to get into Lake Whitney because they have more shelters than other parks, but the park is a little older than the others, so it’s better to get into Lake Mineral Wells if you can set up your reservation three weeks in advance.
We also visited the Mineral Wells Chamber of Commerce, which had some suggestions as to other interesting places to visit. We checked out the Famous Water Company, which has a lovely garden attached to it. It is home of the Dismuke’s Pronto-Lax promotional mineral water bottle, which is in front of the building. Dismuke struck us as a horrible name for the product, but we discovered that it was so named because Ed Dismuke had been purportedly rescued from certain death by bathing in and drinking the water every day until he was 97 years old.
The Rock School Museum is what remains of the Rock Schoolhouse, which was built in 1886 and operated for nearly 100 years. It was the first public school in Mineral Wells. We also found a natural stone amphitheater, which was erected in 1937 by the WPA. This is directly off of the Rock School Museum, which is next to the historic High School, and the Creative Arts Center.
Mineral Wells is also home to the Goodnight-Loving Trail, whose story inspired the Lonesome Dove series of novels by Larry McMurtry. Established in 1867 by cattlemen Oliver Loving and Charles Goodnight, the Goodnight-Loving Trail blazed straight through Comanche territory. Their daring venture to drive two thousand head of cattle across some of the most desolate and dangerous terrain in the country was an amazing success.
Mineral Wells is just a short drive from Lake Possum Kingdom State Park. It’s about a two hour drive from Lake Whitney State Park, and about an hour and a half from the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.