Bath to Berkeley Springs
Bath to Berkeley Springs
Berkeley Springs is an historic spa and art-filled town nestled in the West Virginia mountains only 90 minutes from the Washington/Baltimore metro area. The town, originally known as Bath, boasts warm mineral springs, world class dining, dozens of unique shops, five full-service spas and more than 100 lodging choices from elegant B&B's and historic inns to cabins and resorts.
Friendly people, welcoming mountains and a sense of place mark Berkeley Springs, West Virginia as a vacation getaway for all seasons and tastes.
You can follow in centuries-old footsteps by "taking the waters" as George Washington had once said, in historic Roman Baths or contemporary spas and with every glass of water in fine restaurants and cafes. There are self-guided tours of everything from Berkeley Springs State Park and the historic town of Berkeley Springs to a county-wide driving tour of George Washington-related sites.
On the second floor of the Roman Bath House in Berkeley Springs State Park, guests can visit the Museum of the Berkeley Springs which is open year round.
Berkeley Springs is a primal source of warm mineral waters, which were frequented by Native Americans long before Europeans arrived in the New World. First noted as Medicine Springs in 1747 on a map drawn by Thomas Jefferson's father, the waters for many centuries have drawn visitors seeking health and relief from the stress of everyday life.
Berkeley Springs became a health resort largely due to George Washington's efforts to promote the area among his friends. He revisited the area several times with his family. When he vacationed in the area in 1767, he noted how busy the town had become. Lord Fairfax had built a summer home there and a "private bath" and the social life was rated as quite pleasant.
The Virginia General Assembly established the town as Bath in October 1776, naming it for the spa city called Bath in England. The town's population jumped during and immediately after the American Revolutionary War as wounded soldiers and others came to the area believing that the warm springs had medicinal qualities.
The town was later known as Berkeley Springs, primarily because the town's post office took that name (combining Governor Norborne Berkeley's last name with the warm springs found there) because another post office, located in southeastern Virginia, was already called Bath. Since the mail was sent to and from Berkeley Springs, that name came into use.
It is said that Berkeley Springs was well known among the Indians long before the white men arrived and that the valley was considered a neutral zone where Indians could come and bath in the springs without fear of attack, even from the most mortal of enemies.
The waters flow at a constant 74¯F from the base of Warm Springs Ridge. You may still drink freely and fill your jugs at Lord Fairfax's public tap, and wade in the ancient stone pools in the nation's smallest state park.