Superior Well 1

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There were two springs or wells with the name “Superior” in Excelsior Springs; they were usually distinguished as either Superior or Superior No. 1, and Superior No. 2. Because they were in the same general location, the two springs have been confused over the years, although they produced different waters. Superior No. 1 is the only remaining original gazebo today, next to the Superior Office building which we would like restored.

“The Waters of Excelsior Springs” lists Superior No. 1 as a saline and sulphur laxative mineral water, but historical records in the “Superior” folder at the Excelsior Springs Museum & Archives provide a different chemical analysis for both Superior springs waters. Early advertising material for the Superior states that “A beautiful park surrounds it and it is becoming very popular with visitors who are able to take a morning or evening stroll, as the place is really very charming.”

There are conflicting historical records for the original owner. One source states this spring was located on property purchased by the J. C. Isley family in 1880 for $150. Known as Reed Park, the Isleys built a wood pagoda structure around 1901 for the Superior Spring, with a walkway and deck extending out to the pagoda which featured benches. In 1902, Dr. William A. Bell purchased several properties in Excelsior Springs, including the park property. Bell’s son, Maj. William A. J. Bell, began working with landscape architect George Kessler in 1907 on developing a park system.

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Siloam Spring Park, as it was called then, extended over a mile through town along both banks of the Fishing River. At the Superior Spring, a stone pagoda replaced the wood one in 1912; it was altered again in the early 1950s. City directories and other sources, however, show Lillie White as the owner and operator. A single “Superior Spring” is listed in the 1908 Blue Book, but by 1917, both Superior and Superior No. 2 are listed in the City Directory with Lillie White, proprietor. The property is now part of Fishing River Linear Park and is owned by the City of Excelsior Springs; it was designated a local landmark in 1982 as the only extant and intact spring pagoda in the city.