To get to Ravenden Springs, turn north on highway 90 at Ravenden from highway 63 between Hardy and Black Rock. When you get to the town of Ravenden Springs, turn left on Upper Janes Creek Road and turn into the parking lot at the church. You'll see this pavillion just a short walk from the spring itself, pictured below.
The historical source material for this article comes from a flyer circulated several years after WWII by commercial interests hoping to promote Ravenden Springs as a retirement community and health spa, so all of what follows should be considered with that in mind.
In 1880 a Methodist minister, Reverend William Bailey, had a dream that he would find a spring "deep down in a canyon along Hall's Creek" which would cure his chronic stomach, intestinal and bowell ailments. He was suffering from what his physician, Dr. A. G. Henderson, called "arid dyspepsia," which is often accompanied by peculiarly lucid dreams which the patient often interprets as being prophetic.
So when Reverend Bailey found a spring along a rock bluff along Hall's Creek, he assumed it to be the fulfillment of the prophecy. He continued to have dreams about the spring and daily drank the water, and in a few days he was completely cured of his digestive problems. Word of the miracle cure spread, and soon there were dozens of other cures. Another spring was found nearby (sorry no picture, I only found out about it later) which effected a miracle cure for "sore eyes." In fact, the flyer I read included an endorsement of the spring from Glenn Herr and L.O. Snyder of the National Foundation for the Blind Children headquartered in Hot Springs, calling the spring "...one of the greatest blessings to mankind that nature has provided for those who are now afflicted with the terrible handicap, blindness."
Dr. Henderson analyzed the water and found it to be "saturated with free oxygen. It is buoyant, animative, light and volative." What everrrr. The article also includes a laboratory analysis from Inland Testing Laboratory, Webster Grove, MO., in case you're interested. There was no mention of "free oxygen."
Captain R. D. Welch, a conductor on the Iron Mountain Railroad from St. Louis to Little Rock, heard tales of the spring and dropped in for a visit. He was so impressed that he quit his job, organized a stock company, platted the town and built a 40-room hotel on the cliff above the springs. He also built the cement stairway which still leads down the bluff to the spring.
Efforts to turn the area into a spa/resort/retirement community continued off and on with varying success up until about 1910. In the Arkansas Historical Commission file there is an envelope dated June of 1958 which has as its return address the "Ravenden Spring Mineral Water Company."
The spring is enclosed in cement at the base of a cliff and water is dispensed through a spigot. The water itself tastes pretty funky (remember--good story, bad water), but there are fish living in the stream fed by the spring, so I reckoned it to be not acutely poisonous.
The town is named for a hole in the bluff where ravens were said to roost. There are a couple more interesting bits of trivia associated with this place. The town claims to have Arkansas' first public school, which convened in a cave near the spring. Also, Steven F. Austin, the "Father of Texas" once lived here and was appointed Judge of the first territorial court here in 1820.
In the neighborhood: Raven Roadside Sculpture | Jurassic Flea Market