The place where Boone and his men turned north became known as Bean Station, which, as the population and commerce grew, became an important crossroads for travelers coming from as far as New Orleans and Baltimore. Travelers found an assortment of taverns and inns, the most famous of which was the Bean Station Tavern, a place that in its 1830s heyday could accommodate 200 people. Guests such as Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, Andrew Johnson, and Henry Clay hobnobbed in parlors and had access to one of the finest wine cellars in the entire South.
Bean Station prospered even as horses and buggies gave way to railroads. In the late 1800s, Tate Springs became one of the better-known resorts in the state. Six hundred guests could take the waters, play golf, or indulge in perhaps the laziest game ever invented--fly poker. The rules were simple: each player put down one card, and the first card on which a fly landed was the winner. As the new century rolled around, Tate Springs drew wealthy families, among them the Studebakers, Firestones, and Fords, but the advent of the automobile spelled the end for such resorts, and the Depression pushed them over the edge.
Tate Springs was bought in 1943 by a Methodist minister, Reverend A. E. Wachtel, who established the Kingswood School for neglected children. The students lived in the old hotel until 1963, when it burned down. New buildings were erected, however, and today the school continues serving children ages 5-18. Some are residents, while others are day students who are having behavioral or emotional problems in local schools. John Wachtel, son of the founder, presides over the school today. All that remains of the old resort is a gazebo that stands over the original spring. Kingswood School is not open to the public.
copyright 2007 Jeff Bradley