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Brief history of Druskininkai

In 1772 the saltwater springs attracted huge interest of the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. It happened immediately after Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania lost the sault-mine vaults on the territory of Poland. Salt is an essential mineral needed for daily basis: it is habitually used for preservation of food and related products that are more likely to perish quickier; it is also used as an excellent spice and flavor. As per economic forecasts, in Lithuania salt was always an influential import product as the state did not have native salt sources. Lithuanians used to purchase salt from Ryga, Russia and Poland‘s merchants starting from Middle Age. In a search of a substitute to the lost treasures, the Grand Duke of Lithuania and Titular King of Poland Stanisław August Poniatowski (Stanislovas Augustas Poniatovskis in Lithuanian) ordered to thoroughly examine all the saltwater springs located on the territory of the state. Unfortunately during the research the unfortunate conclusion was made. It stated that none of those springs could be serviceable for production of the table salt. However, in consistency they were similar to other European mineral waters used for treatment of various diseases. In 1789 Druskininkai attracted huge interest of the Members of Parliament sitting in the Hrodna (Grodno) city. After receiving encouragement in talks, the ruler of the state Stanisław August Poniatowski visited the region in question. Shortly by the decree of June 20, 1794 Druskininkai was announced to be an officially recognized health resort.
After the collapse of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795, Druskininkai devolved to Czarist Russian Empire.

While Europe was being torn apart by wars and stir panic, Druskininkai received only a little attention from the government. This is despite the fact that the mineral and mud baths had already been operating since the beginning of the 19th century, off the record, of course. At the suggested time Druskininkai city received many patients complaining from different ailments. The sick had often experienced inconveniences and had to stay at the small peasant houses during treatment period. In order to start up a treatment the patients themselves had to bring over different types of tools, starting from the simpliest bathtubs intended for successful accomplishment of the curative procedures. Moreover, the easiest way to get to mineral springs was blocked by lots of mud in the surrounding wetlands. However, it was only after the results of the surveys of chemical composition of mineral water of Druskininkai sources by a professor of Vilnius University I. Fonberg had been published in 1835 that Druskininkai became a real resort. And, lastly, Grigorij Dopelmayer's name has been many times mentioned in connection with the mineral water resort‘s foundation for further development. He was directly engaged in providing necessary professional equipment and organizing other facilities. In 1837 the above mentioned G. Dopelmayer initiated a project of Druskininkai resort. On December 31, 1837 it was presented for the consideration of the Emperor of Russia Nikolas I who on January 4, 1838 granted his permission to develop Druskininkai as a resort town. Furthermore, under the deal the Credit Bank was slated to allocate to the resort a loan amount of 25 000 silver roubles. The funds were intended for building the constructions and for further development of environmental requirements in the region. During the first few years soil swampy and muddy area of the mineral valley had been well drained. The springs were canalized and averted to the repositories of wood log cribs; extra bath-rooms, mineral water containers, temporary shelters for unweds and families, and a sentry-box were built at the resort. A ferryboat transporting passengers across the Nemunas river was offered to visitors. Starting from 1839 twice a week a stagecouch (a type of covered wagon) strongly sprung and drawn by four horses, usually four-in-hand, was departing from Druskininkai and travelling to Hrodna (Grodno) city. It carried passengers, correspondence and parcels. Passengers had to endure an 8-hour trip inasmuch as the way at this direction was very sandy.  After laying the railway track Saint Petersburg-Warsaw in 1862, the way from Hrodna (Grodno) to Druskininkai was being cut down twice. At the end of the 19th century a steamboat used to transport passengers across Nemunas. In 1841 there was established the Medical Faculty association. Its main aim was to improve, standardize and expand measures of the treatment environment. In 1844 through the efforts of the doctor K. Volfgang the first general-interest magazine „Mermaid of the Druskininkai wellness springs„ („Druskininkų šaltinių undinė“ in Lithuanian) was being published in Hrodna (Grodno).  The doctor J. Pileckis initiated the establishment of the mercy home, hospital for the poor Jewish people and children‘s shelter. In 1853 there was opened the Druskininkai branch of the Hrodna (Grodno) post bureau. In the next years the following places started to operate: a bakery, slaughterhouse, ice cream parlour, different shops, confectionary, taverns and riding hall.
The Druskininkai branch of the Hrodna (Grodno) district hospital opened in 1860.

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