West Baden Springs Hotel Library – West Baden Springs, Indiana - Atlas Obscura
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West Baden Springs, Indiana

West Baden Springs Hotel Library

A historic hotel library in Indiana hides more than a few secrets on its shelves.  

In a modern world where tweets, e-mails, and “likes” are communication staples, there’s something reassuringly intimate about a handwritten note, especially if it’s stumbled upon by chance.

For the past six years, travelers have been hiding notes within the pages of books at West Baden Springs Hotel Library in Orange County, Indiana. The first notes were discovered in classic novels like Sister Carrie and The Three Musketeers in 2012 by hotel employee Siobhan Morrison while she was cleaning up one day.

“I was just here kind of organizing stuff,” Morrison told WTHR - NBC 13 of the found notes.  “I really didn’t expect there to be this conversation going on.”

Since then, travelers have been leaving all kinds of notes within the books, including secrets, wishes, playful banter between guests, inspirational words, and love letters. The library was also the site of a hide-and-seek style wedding proposal, which led to a note that read “Will you marry me?,” reported WTHR. Other found notes included penned words such as “I’m going to marry someone!” and “I have had two nights with the love of my life. We’ve been married for 24 years. I love you, Jeff, more than you’ll ever know. Love, Tracy.”

One collective note began around Christmas 2014 and was added to over the course of two years by guests, states a video produced by the hotel. That same year, one love letter started a trend among married couples, with each addendum “wishing the newlyweds many years of happiness together.”

But the notes are more than just scribblings, love tokens, and peculiar avowals; they act as a time capsule of sorts, allowing guests to not only relive their hotel memories but also become part of a larger (albeit anonymous) community of travelers – all returning to the same tiny library, leaving behind traces of themselves.

The Chicago Tribune recently reported that other heartbreakingly bizarre letters were found, including one where the anonymous writer “descends into an admission of alcoholism” before shifting to an “analysis of his marriage,” and finishing off with an analysis of that evening’s concert.

Call it a strange literary community, a time capsule, or a traveler’s mini confessional chamber, if you find yourself in at the West Baden Springs Hotel Library, be sure to leave behind a little handwritten oddity all your own.

Know Before You Go

Check out the hotel lobby's giant illuminated domed glass ceiling before wandering off to the library.

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