You, too, can soak in George Washington’s old tub!
George Washington was a regular visitor to Berkeley Springs from the age of 16, where he first visited as a land surveyor, and returned many times after that with his family. He even bought property there. Today, you can sit in the first president’s recreated tub in Berkeley Springs State Park or simply take a peek at the spring that bubbles up inside of it!
It was largely due to Washington’s frequent visits that the area’s fame as a health spa grew throughout the colonies. The springs’ status as a health resort became even more established when Washington and several prominent colonists made land purchases after Lord Fairfax deeded his land holdings in 1776.
Part of the Washington Heritage Trail, the mineral waters that course through the famed tub and in the springs at Berkeley Springs State Park have been soothing both body and soul since the Native Americans discovered them long ago.
In the 1700s, the mineral waters, known as “Ye Famed Warm Springs,” attracted early settlers who wanted a taste of the fountain of youth. The town of Berkeley Springs was originally called “Bath” after the English resort city of the same name. Interestingly, although the post office name was changed to Berkeley Springs in the early 1800s, the official name of the town is still Bath.
The settlers learned the uses and value of the springs from the Native Americans, and began spreading the message of their benefits throughout the settlements of the east.
Today, the springs are nestled on 4.5 acres right in the middle of town as the focal point of the smallest in the state park system. Washington’s bathtub monument is accompanied by a Roman bath house and museum, a public drinking spring where people regularly come to fill their water jugs, and spectacular views of the park and surrounding areas from Warm Springs Ridge.
Every year, around mid-March, the town of Berkeley Springs commemorates this quirky historical site — and only outdoor monument to presidential bathing — with the annual “George Washington’s Bathtub Celebration.” Shops hold dollar sales and food specials, while local history and music is shared.
What other quirky sites have you seen in the Mountain State?