The historic West Baden Springs Resort is the setting of Michael Koryta’s mystery-thriller “So Cold the River,” one of my favorite novels written by one of my favorite authors.
From Michael Koryta’s website:
It started with a beautiful woman and a challenge. As a gift for her husband, Alyssa Bradford approaches Eric Shaw to make a documentary about her father-in-law, Campbell Bradford, a 95-year-old billionaire whose past is wrapped in mystery. Eric grabs the job even though there are few clues to the man’s past–just the name of his hometown and an antique water bottle he’s kept his entire life.
In Bradford’s hometown, Eric discovers an extraordinary history–a glorious domed hotel where movie stars, presidents, athletes, and mobsters once mingled, and hot springs whose miraculous mineral water cured everything from insomnia to malaria. Neglected for years, the resort has been restored to its former grandeur just in time for Eric’s stay.
Just hours after his arrival, Eric experiences a frighteningly vivid vision. As the days pass, the frequency and intensity of his hallucinations increase and draw Eric deeper into the town’s dark history. He discovers that something besides the hotel has been restored–a long-forgotten evil that will stop at nothing to regain its lost glory. Brilliantly imagined and terrifyingly real, So Cold the River is a tale of irresistible suspense with a racing, unstoppable current.
Listen to author Michael Koryta talk about West Baden Springs Resort.
To watch the movie visit
About West Baden Springs Resort and French Lick Springs Resort
There was a time when West Baden Springs Resort was called the Eighth Wonder of the World and it is easy to see why.
At the beginning of the 1900s, the elite hotel was a Mecca for gamblers coming to Orange County for fun and glamour.
According to the Indiana Historical Society, a stay at West Baden Springs Hotel in the 1920s cost twice as much as an overnight at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.
At one time 14 trains a day serviced West Baden and French Lick Resort just down the road, bringing in both celebrities and everyday people. Al Capone, John Dillinger, the Marx Brothers, Lana Turner, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope all visited.
But once gambling was banned, West Baden fell into disrepair and the hotel emptied and languished.
Now it has been fully restored to its full majesty,.
West Baden, with its formal gardens, statuary, fountain and gazebo, reflects the turn of the last century elegance it was once known for.
Built in less than a year, the hotel was famed for its free standing dome. It was the world’s largest and that record would hold for another 60 years until the Houston Astrodome was built. But there’s no Astroturf here.
The rotunda, with its 200 feet of mosaic floor tiles (original to the hotel which was built in 1902) is breathtakingly magnificent.
The large expanse is filled with an immense Rookwood tile fireplace said to be worth over a million dollars, potted palms and Victorian era furniture. In the center of the 100-foot-high dome is a pendant chandelier which reflects prisms of light creating, at night when the dome is darkened, a light show extraordinaire.
Dining options include the upscale Sinclair’s, ice cream, snacks and specialty coffees at Xanadu and wonderful rotunda seating at Ballards, the perfect place for a glass of wine and a lighter meal.
There’s a stable for guided trail rides through the rolling hills, golf courses, an indoor and outdoor pool, a luxurious spa, restaurants, ice cream parlor and shops. A free shuttle runs every 15 minutes between the casino at French Lick Springs Resort and West Baden. French Lick Winery is just down the road for tastings as is Big Splash Adventure. Board the French Lick Scenic Railway and travel through the beautiful countryside.
Further down the road, visit Patoka Lake, the second largest manmade lake in the state.
The following recipes are courtesy of French Lick Springs Resort
Lobster Mac and Cheese
- 1 quart heavy cream
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp White Pepper
- 1 tsp Tabasco Sauce
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 ½ lb. Cooked Lobster Meat
Bread Crumb Ingredients
- 6 slices finely diced white
- 3 Tbsp Chives (minced)
- 3 Tbsp Parsley (chopped)
In a sauce pot, bring heavy cream to boil. Slowly incorporate cheese until melted. Add remaining ingredients, simmer for 10 minutes. Mix hot sauce with the cooked macaroni and pour into a baking dish. Top with bread crumb mixture, bake at 350° for 15 minutes, Broil for 2 to 3 minutes to brown crumb topping.
White Chocolate Crème Brulee
Makes 6 oz servings (7 total)
- 1 qt Heavy Cream
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 6 oz White Chocolate
- ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
- 7 Egg Yolks
Simmer heavy cream, turn off heat. Add rest of ingredients except yolks, stir until smooth.
Slowly add yolks to combine. Bake at 250 degrees for one hour. Remove from oven and chill.
Once cool, coat top of creme brulee with 1 tblspn of sugar in the raw. Brulee sugar with torch until caramelized. Garnish with fresh berries and serve.