It was a ‘crazy’ idea, but part of history
Editor's Corner by Mike Brown
Rockdale Reporter - 2016-10-28
I’ve recently had to make a whole lot of trips between Rockdale and Taylor for reasons
that are neither very interesting, nor very important, to anyone but the Brown family.
Just this side of Thorndale I looked over and remembered....an odor.
I’ll bet some of you around my generation know it. The Thorndale Crazy Water Crystals
Maybe not the crystals themselves, they’ve been gone for years. But the sulfury odor
stuck around for decades. When did we quit catching a whiff of it? The 60s, 70s, later?
I don’t know. I just know it’s gone and it used to be an unmistakable reminder you were
entering Thorndale from the east or leaving it from the west.
In 1929 the Crazy Water Crystals Company drilled a 2,231-foot water well to pump sulfur-
infused, 120-degree, water to make the crystals, which were then sold as a remedy for
just about everything. It was quite a little industry.
There were resort-style bathhouses and I think, if you know where to look, you can still
find the foundations of a few.
(If I’m wrong some of my friends in Bulldogtown will correct me.)
It’s hard to imagine just how big a business mineral water crystals were early in the
In 1882 a businessman at the Piedmont Hotel in Mineral Wells collected some mineral
water, heated it and sat down to soak his feet.
As the water evaporated white crystals began to form. Our businessman bottled
them—hopefully not the ones he’d just soaked his feet in — and claimed if you dissolved
them and drank the water it would be a miracle cure.
He sold those little bottles for $2 each. In 1882!
Two bucks apiece.
It was a phenomenon. By 1910 there were 21 companies producing mineral water crystals in
Mineral Wells alone and shipping them all over the world.
Business was aided by a 15-minute radio show on KRLD in Dallas that played music and
In a couple more decades the Thorndale crazy water crystal plant was up and gurgling.
What happened? You can guess. People began figuring out drinking the crystals was, well,
kind of crazy.
They didn’t cure much. Then medical science began to come up with actual drugs that
worked far better than you-know what.
The crazy water crystals plant closed, fell into disrepair and then into history.
It left behind nothing more than a lingering memory in our hearts.
Or, more likely, in our noses.