Berkeley Springs State Park is one of the oldest units in the West Virginia state park system. The warm springs that give the park its name have attracted visitors from before the time of white settlement, and Berkeley Springs was established as a spa in colonial times. In 1748, 16-year old George Washington visited the location as part of a surveying party and later returned many times. The spa enjoyed its greatest success after the building of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad through the area in the 1840s. The 400-guest Strother Hotel was soon completed, and under various owners remained the center of Berkeley Springs hospitality until it burned in 1898.
The seven-acre park, originally called Bath Square, along with 50 surrounding acres, was conveyed to Virginia in 1776 by Lord Fairfax. Fourteen trustees were put in charge, selling lots to Washington, Gen. Horatio Gates, and others. The trustees retained control of the springs, which have remained public property since that time. The state of West Virginia assumed control in the mid-1920s, and the historic spa was transferred to the Department of Natural Resources in 1970. Today, the park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A Roman Bath house, constructed at the park in 1815 under the direction of James Rumsey, is the oldest public building in Morgan County. A narrow pool known as George Washington’s Bathtub commemorates Washington’s long interest in Berkeley Springs.
Read the National Register of Historic Places nomination.
This Article was written by Stephanie Earls
Last Revised on February 12, 2013