Traveling the Springs Trail

While most everyone has heard of spa resorts like  The Greenbrier and the Homestead, you may not know that at one time more than 50 different springs and spa resorts dotted the countryside of what is now West Virginia and Virginia.  While all that remains of most are stone ruins or single structures, they provide a fascinating story of what was once a thriving tourist market …even in the late 1700s.

Today the  Springs Trail , a driving tour among the mountains, details little known facts of several of the former spa resorts.  Places like Blue Sulphur Springs, where an impressive

Mineral Springs Resort - Salt Sulphur Springs

Grecian springhouse still stands, and Sweet Springs (now being restored).

Lured by advertising and the “healing” powers of the waters (touted by doctors), visitors came in droves during the early 1800s. Why make such a long trip by carriage?  Two reasons, really – the healing qualities of the waters and the social aspect of being seen among the wealthy and socially prominent.  While it was unclear if the waters were truly “healing”, many prominent physicians touted their powers and the power of the cleaner, cooler air found in the mountains.

Prominent visitors to the springs and resorts is duly noted in historical documents.  Guests included Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Martin Van Buren, as well as Levi Morton, VP under Benjamin Harrison. Robert  E. Lee and his generals even stopped in.

If you’re considering driving along the Springs Trail, take your camera.  Beautiful stone springhouses, cottages, and buildings will make for some fascinating photos. The route mostly follows easy two-lane roads and meanders the countryside of Greenbrier, Monroe and Summers counties.

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