Natural mineral waters -- containing dissolved salts and sometimes being carbonated by nature -- have long been reputed to have healing properties. In 400 B.C. the Greek physician Hippocrates wrote a treatise on the subject, Airs, Waters, and Places. Many famous European springs were discovered with the expansion of the Roman Empire, and in the late eighteenth century people gathered at these sites to drink or bathe in supposedly "healthful" waters. Such an allegedly healing spring is in the grotto at Lourdes, France, where occasional "miracles" are reported (see Lourdes display for more information).
The fad spread to America where resorts grew up around springs, spawning parks, hotels, and even gambling and horse-racing facilities. (For a discussion, see "Mineral and Soda Water Bottles," in Cecil Munsey, The Illustrated Guide to Collecting Bottles, 1970, pp. 101-110.)