The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993

Book Reviews

specimen that are still on exhibit in museums. Although he published little or
nothing in the way of scientific research, the material he collected is still of
significance to the science of paleontology.
Olson, one of the leading vetebrate paleontologists of the twentieth century,
has contributed greatly to our knowledge of the early terrestrial vertebrates of
Texas. He extended his work to encompass fossils of similar age in Russia. A
large part of this memoir recounts his experiences with Russian paleontolo-
gists. It is significant that much of the material collected by Sternberg from the
Permian deposits of Texas was used by Olson in his research. These books show
how scientific ideas in vertebrate paleontology have changed. Even with the
advance of technology, the problems of working in the field have remained
remarkably similar. Both authors describe similar problems caused by the ad-
vent of the "blue northers" and intense heat when working in north central
Texas. Sternberg had his problems with recalcitrant horses, unreliable assis-
tants, hostile Indians, and bad water. Olson recounts problems with balky cars,
suspicious landowners, and flat tires.
Both books are illustrated with photographs of specimens and people that
the reader will find enjoyable.
University of Texas at Austzn ERNEST L. LUNDELIUS, JR.
Crazy Water: The Story of Mzneral Wells and Other Texas Health Resorts. By Gene
Fowler. (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1991. Pp. xii + 315.
Foreword, appendix, notes, bibliography, index, photographs. $15.95.)
Texas enjoys a deeply textured history, which often teeters on the border of
extravagant myth. But relevant stories frequently emerge from Texas legends.
Gene Fowler explored the unusual story of Texas mineral water and its mysti-
cal healing qualities. On the frontier of modern medicine, many Texans sought
relief from their ills at mineral water resorts. The foul-smelling liquid killed
crops, but Texans swore by its convalescent qualities. Aside from their medici-
nal purposes, the resorts became glamorous social centers. Even before Texas
joined the Union, entrepreneurs began to boast about the healing qualities of
their particular brand of pungent fluid. Sam Houston attempted to soothe his
body and mind in the mineral springs and mud of Sour Lake in June 1863.
The Texas billionaire H. L. Hunt purchased his own mineral well in an attempt
to prolong his life. Until the federal Food and Drug Administration in the
1930os cracked down on pharmaceutical advertisements, mineral water resorts
promised remedies for all manner of illnesses.
As an experienced playwright, Fowler's prose complemented the engaging
story. Rather than writing around a tight analysis, he told an even-handed, well
documented tale with an informal tone. Each chapter is largely a chronicle of
a particular mineral water resort or area. The first three chapters cover the rise
of the most successful resort, in the city of Mineral Wells, Texas. A frontier
family discovered the bitter water in 1880. Fifty years later, Carr and Hal Col-
lins brought the town to national acclaim during the Depression. In the town
of Mineral Wells, the reader travels through Indian lore, early radio, hillbilly

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/. Accessed July 28, 2015.