Midden – The Baker Burial Site

Baker Cancer Curable Hospital was located at 75 Prospect Avenue in Eureka Springs from 1937 to 1939.  Much is known about this native Iowan Norman Baker’s “medical” facility thanks to artifacts such as hospital brochures, letters, and the lore told by family members of hospital patients and of course local citizens who lived through those days when macabre happenings were unfolding in “that old hotel that sits on top of the mountain up above downtown”.  These stories, these tales have been told and retold through the decades but there was nothing that one could hold in his or her hand and say, “Look… here’s proof!”

The day of discovery was a cold Tuesday morning, February 5 of 2019, when a hospital dump was unexpectedly unearthed and more than 500 pieces of hard evidence arose from a remote northeast corner of the acreage that surrounds “America’s Most Haunted Hotel,’ the 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa.  The hotel’s chief gardener was preparing land for a mulch site.  With the first scoop of her compact front-end loader, she noticed strange-looking bottles mixed in with the dirt.  Utilizing good foresight, she stopped and investigated more closely.

Comparing the exposed bottles to a Baker Hospital marketing poster a perfect match was established.  The Baker Hospital refuse dump had been discovered.

crescent hotel dig findings

The Arkansas Archeological Survey (AAS) team from the University of Arkansas was called to conduct a formal dig, officially recording everything that would be found.  Their formal archeological dig quickly showed that the site was simply not a dump of bottles over a ridge, but a carefully constructed pit dug by the hospital specifically to bury and hide all the bottles therein.  It should be noted that once the count of 500 bottles, some broken but most in pristine condition were inventoried the digging stopped but the AAS team believes the dump could be larger than their stopping point boundaries.  It then became official: what was thought of originally as simply a dump had become the Baker Cancer Curable Hospital midden.

archsrological dig crescent hotel

To say the findings were magnificent in their scope and immensity would be an understatement.  Here is a partial list of what was inventoried:

  • Serum-style bottles that seem to contain the secret elixir that Baker would inject into his patients.  The formula for that elixir included brown corn silk, red clover, ground watermelon seeds, peppermint, glycerin, and carbolic acid.

  • Pharmacy-style mixing tools such as a glass measuring spoon in perfect condition.

  • The blade of a bone saw that probably was used during autopsies and post-mortem experimental surgeries.

  • Reels of Baker’s 16mm promotional films from which one frame was clearly legible with the words “Before Baker Treatments”.

  • Well-preserved what appears to be fleshy tissue still floating in the preservation liquid.  These “medical specimens” appear to perhaps be tumors and other cancerous tissues that Baker would show prospective patients of what had been removed from others.

  • Numerous other concoctions and/or ingredients still sealed in apothecary jars.

The best-inventoried specimens are now on display in the hotel’s “morgue”, the area of the hotel in the basement where it is said that Baker conducted autopsies and experimental post-mortem surgeries.  In this area are his original autopsy table and the walk-in cooler when Baker kept cadavers and body parts.

crescent hotel morgue

The 1886 Crescent Hotel Ghost Tours* were magnificent prior to the discovery of all of this “proof” since nightly sell-outs were quite common. However, with the addition of these bottles of Baker’s formulas and the gruesome-looking, fleshy medical specimens, the hotel’s tours have become even more shocking and more in demand.   *For tickets https://bit.ly/2FFQ5Ou