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click to enlarge HEADQUARTERS: The Mountain Valley Building on Central Avenue.
  • HEADQUARTERS: The Mountain Valley Building on Central Avenue.

The legend of Mountain Valley Spring Water, so the company says, goes back to native Indian tribes who laid down their weapons to take the waters in an area now known as Hot Springs National Park, “a protected watershed famous for its warm thermal springs as well as a number of cool springs. The cool spring that continues to draw nationwide attention for its purity and unique mineral content is the source of Mountain Valley Spring Water.”

The Indians and the white men who eventually joined them thought for many years that both the warm thermal water they bathed in and the cool water they drank had curative powers. Eventually, they learned better, and that's one reason Hot Springs is not what it used to be. (Mountain Valley, on the other hand, has kept on growing even after people stopped believing it healed gout, rheumatism, diabetes and kidney trouble.)

At one time, the waters of that unique cool spring were sold under the name Lockett's Spring Water. In 1871, a pharmacist named Peter E. Greene bought the business and changed the name to Mountain Valley Water. The company has gone through various hands over the years. The present CEO, Breck Speed, grew up in Fort Smith. He has a bachelor's degree in history from Tulane University and a law degree from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. His father, also named Breck Speed, was prominent in the Arkansas trucking industry before he retired.

Calvin Coolidge was the first of 13 presidents to enjoy Mountain Valley in the White House, according to the company, and two of those presidents, Eisenhower and Reagan, took the water with them when they traveled overseas. Many movie stars and sports champions have drunk Mountain Valley; pictures of and letters from them are on display in the Mountain Valley Building.

The building, at 150 Central Avenue, was constructed in 1910.

The spring itself is about 12 miles from Hot Springs on company-owned land. There's a bottling plant at the site. The water is sold nationwide.

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