The Springs Tour
A Driving Tour of the Historic Springs & Resorts of the Greenbrier Valley
More then a hundred years ago, in what is today one of the most pristine rural areas in West Virginia, visitors came by the thousands to visit the many natural springs in Monroe, Greenbrier and Summers Counties. Where the healing waters flowed, grand resort hotels flourished. Some of them, such as the Greenbrier, continue to operate today. Others are abandoned now, their vast edifices and cool spring houses still whispering of past grandeur. Of some, only memories remain. The Springs Trail is a driving tour of these historic springs.
Along the way you will find spectacular scenery in any season, friendly people, fine lodging and food and enjoyable shopping and a wealth of history. And, yes, you can still “take the waters.”
You may begin your tour at any point along the circular trail. We will begin in Union, the county seat of Monroe. Settled in 1774 by James Alexander, Union retains a leisurely, traditionally Southern flavor. In the town’s National Historic District are many 19th-century buildings of note, the Confederate Monument Park, and the Monroe County Historical Society Museum. A walking tour is available.
From Union, drive south along US 219 to Salt Sulphur Springs. Three types of springs flow here: sulphur, sweet and iodine. The grand old Salt Sulphur Springs Hotel, with its tall white columns, still stands. A store, church, bath house, and spring house also remain, all built with limestone quarried from the hillside above the bath house. It is the largest pre-Civil War stone building complex in West Virginia.
Continue driving south on US 219. You will pass the Indian Creek Covered Bridge, built in 1898 by the teenaged Weikle brothers. You are traveling along Indian Creek, one of the oldest Native American north/south routs, also known as the Seneca Trail.
At Raines Corner, turn west on Rte 122. At Hunter Springs, about 3 miles along Rte 122, you will pass Creekside Resort, a contemporary spa and comfortable lodging.
Continue west along Rte 122 to Greenville. Here you will find Cook’s Mill complex now known as the Old Mill. Look for the Cook’s Fort historical marker just outside of town.
Follow Rte 122 west to Rte 25. Turn left and drive south along Rte 25 for about 5 miles; then turn right, straight across Hans Creek, taking County Route 25/2 west until it meets Rte 27, Red Sulphur Road. Within another mile, in a narrow valley, you will be at the site of Red Sulphur Springs. Built in 1832 and converted to a military hospital during the Civil War, Red Sulphur was one of the largest and most popular resorts in the area. Not a trace remains except the spring itself and its rock foundation.
At Red Sulphur Springs, Rte 27 meets Rte 12. Turn right and follow Rte 12 north to Rte 3, about 12 miles, where you will cross the Greenbrier River. (At this point, diving west on Rte 3 will take you to the National Historic District of Hinton and Campbell-Flanagan- Murrell Museum House.) Continue on Rtes 12 and 3 to Lowell, where you will find the Graham House Museum (1770).
Continue east on Rtes 12 and 3 to the Summers/Greenbrier county line and shortly afterwards, the old historic town of Alderson, a National Historic District. The town is divided by the Greenbrier River between Greenbrier and Monroe Counties. In and near Alderson, you will find lodging, fine handcrafts and food.
Leave Alderson on Rte 12, driving north to Palestine. At Palestine, turn left onto County Rte 25 and follow it northwest about 8.5 miles to Blue Sulphur Springs. Of the magnificent 19th, century resort that once occupied this broad valley, only the spring pavilion is left, its twelve stately columns standing in silent tribute to a gracious era.
From Blue Sulphur Springs, take County Rte 31 east to Rte 12, near Asbury, and continue north on Rte 12 to US 60, the Midland Trail. Follow US 60 east to the National Historic District of Lewisburg. Here you will find historical sites, charming shops, excellent restaurants and plenty of lodging, including the venerable General Lewis Inn. The North House Museum, maintained by the Greenbrier Historical Society, is open year round. A walking tour of Historic Lewisburg is available.
Continue driving east along US 60, passing through Caldwell at the Greenbrier River to White Sulphur Springs, home of the famous Greenbrier Resort. Many other lodgings and restaurants are in the area.
Follow US 60 east to the intersection to the intersection of US 60/I-64. Follow the combined highway just about 1.5 miles to the junction of Route 311. Turn right and travel south on Rte 311, passing into Alleghany County, VA and immediately through a tunnel. Continue south to Crows, VA, an old stage coach stop where there was once a famous inn, on the way to Sweet Springs.
Continue south along Rte 311 to Sweet Chalybeate Springs also once known as Red Sweet Springs with its beautiful gazebo, pool and waterfall.
Now, following Rte 311 south, you will cross from Virginia into Monroe County, WV. Just about a mile inside the state line is Sweet Springs Resort. The massive main edifice is an impressive example of Jeffersonian architecture. It is the best preserved of the pre-Civil War resort hotels.
At Sweet Springs, you will leave Rte 311 and travel west on Rte 3. Follow Rte 3, crossing the Great Eastern Divide, to Gap Mills. Just past Gap Mills, Route 8 leads northwest to the site of Roxalia Springs and Moncove Lake State Park.
Continue along Rte 3 toward Union. Just before you reach Union, be sure to take the right turn and short drive to Rehobeth Church and Museum, a pioneer log church built in 1786. It is the oldest Methodist church west of the Alleghenies.
Follow Rte 3 into historic Union, where the Spring Trail begins and ends.
For additional visitor information contact:
Monroe County Tourism, PO Box 341, Union, WV 24983
866/677-3003, ext 11 or email [email protected]