Oliver Springs is an outdoor lover’s paradise and has always been geared toward tourist. People settled in the area in 1821 because of the mineral springs. The founder, Richard Oliver built a 35-room inn in the 1830′s and began the first promotion of the mineral springs. The inn was used as a hospital by both sides during the Civil War. The property has also been home to a resort hotel, which was replaced in 1895 by a 150 room hotel. From 1895 until it burned in 1905, the Oliver Springs Hotel was a nationally known destination. The railroad, which came to Oliver Springs in 1888, brought thousands of visitors to the springs. The hotel eventually burnt down and the springs were covered but the evidence of water conduits and reservoirs can can still be seen on the site.
In the early part of the twentieth century, the area became dependent on the coal industry. According to historian Keith Glass, the Windrock Coal and Coke Company, a subsidiary of the Bessemer Coal, Iron and Land Company of Birmingham, Alabama began operating a coal mine near Oliver Springs in approximately 1904. In the late 1990s, the movie October Sky was filmed in nearby coal mining areas as well as the city’s downtown area.
Today, many outdoor enthusiast travel to the area to take advantage of the mountains. Oliver Springs is the gateway to Windrock Park which is the largest privately owned off-road facility in the United States. The park’s 72,000 acres of mountain terrain with 300 miles of trails is ideal for off-roading, horseback riding, trail running or just sightseeing.