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R. & Deborah A. Fletcher
Berkeley Springs, in
The springs were featured on some of the earliest colonial maps.
George Washington first visited the area in 1748 as a 16 year-old
surveyor employed by Lord Fairfax—in 1776 he and a few friends established the
town as “
Springs State Park—home to the warm mineral springs that put the area on the
map—is a five-acre park located on the village green, in the heart of town.
George Washington’s Bath Tub—shaped from rock—surrounds a spring,
one of the five main water sources within the park.
It remains a popular attraction. Today
folks can still enjoy the spring water for free—spa treatments however do
cost, but probably not what one would expect.
Springs isn’t a high-brow, high-dollar destination with more arrogant attitude
than travel value. No this is a real
town, with spa prices for real people, not the rich elite.
The town’s five full-service spas offer about anything one could want
from the Roman baths, to a Eucalyptus steam, to a full-body massage; a total of
53 various bodywork treatments are available.
Two dozen area lodging establishments ensure a wide selection of
Berkeley Springs water flows from underground at a constant 74.3 degrees
Fahrenheit (about 25 degrees warmer than normal for water flowing from an
underground source). The spring’s
mineral content is due to the water’s passage through the silica sandstone of
Warm Springs Ridge.
The first bath house in the area was built in the late 1700s, where
today’s Roman Bath House is located (within the state park).
The structure one sees today dates from 1815, making it one of the
town’s oldest buildings. The Roman
Bath House features nine rooms with 5’ x 10’ tubs that are filled with 750
gallons of steamy 104 degree Fahrenheit water.
Completely private, four feet deep, these tubs are just right for a
couple to enjoy a hot, steamy romantic soak together.
Spa facilities within the park are open daily, with the exception of New
Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Springs celebrates the annual Winter Festival of the Waters—a three month
event celebrating the healing power of water.
There are several events designed to allow residents and visitors to
escape from the winter blahs, including special spa events and the George
Washington Bathtub Celebration held the weekend closest to the anniversary of Washington
’s first visit to the region March 18, 1748.
The Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting held annually near the
end of February is the centerpiece of the winter festival.
Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting is the world’s largest water
tasting event. Spring waters, tap
waters, and bottled waters arrive from all around the world to compete. Tastelessness is the most
sought after quality. The
water should have no flavor, no particles—only pure refreshment.
A body of judges is trained in the ways of evaluating the various waters
they will be rating.
Springs is a perennial favorite on the annual list of “100
Spa features a Eucalyptus steam that clears the sinuses and cleanses the pores
like nothing we’ve experienced. We
highly recommend the Eucalyptus steam in preparation for a full-body massage.
Talk about feeling invigorated and rejuvenated, glowing even.
Berkeley Springs is an exceptional romantic getaway for a couple to be pampered and enjoy each other. It is an historic town with warm mineral springs, spas, art galleries, historic homes and elegant Bed & Breakfasts. A half dozen art galleries and antique malls offer excellent shopping opportunities. Does it get any better than that?
IF YOU GO:
Text and Photos Copyright PROSE AND PHOTOS/ Thomas R. Fletcher