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BERKLEY SPRINGS

While several places may claim that "George Washington slept here," Berkley Springs, West Virginia has documented evidence to support it's claim that "George Washington BATHED here."

The town with its warm mineral springs was originally named "Bath" after the famous spa in England.The Virginia gentry had discovered the springs and it was already quite well known when the young Washington was sent to survey the site by its owner, Lord Thomas Fairfax, in 1748. The colonists had undoubtedly heard of the springs from the local indians, who came from great distances to bathe there. Washington returned to Berkley Springs many times throughout his lifetime.


In 1756, Lord Fairfax granted the springs and 50 surrounding acres to the colony of Virginia to be used "forever free to the publick for the welfare of suffering humanity." The great Lord himself, although far from being describable as "suffering humanity," visited the site himself...although he did make sure that he kept his distance from the rabble by bathing apart in a secluded rock-lined tub now known as the "Fairfax Bathtub." Thanks to him, the springs have remained free to the public and are now part of West Virginia's state park system. After the Revolutionary War, property adjoining the springs was offered for sale. It was quickly snapped up by well-to-do citizens...among them, none other than soon-to-be-President Washington.


There are five springs that make up the Berkley Springs complex, and they provide 2,000 gallons of water per minute, which bubbles out of the ground at a constant 74.3 degrees. Although public access to the water is free, commercial baths have been built to provide a luxurious experience. There are five regular tubs and no few than 13 sunken Roman baths...lined with ceramic and marble tiles...and each holding 750 gallons of mineral spring water. The main Bath House is open year round except Christmas, New Years Day, and the 2nd Monday in November. Reservations are accepted no more than 2 weeks in advance and a deposit is required. The park also offers various forms of physiotherapy including steam cabinets, massages, and a health club.

For more information or for reservations, call 304-258-2711, or call 1-800-CALL-WVA and ask to be connected to Berkely Springs.