Friday, February 28, 2014

Warm Springs, Va. - The Jefferson Pools

For those that love history and the "spa" you'll love hearing about the baths at Warm Springs, often referred to as the Jefferson Pools.  This is Warm Springs, Virginia, very close to the famed Homestead Resort.


(The ladies' baths)


Springs were very famous in the Blue Ridge region and many were wildly extravagant in their day, most long gone.  Incredible hotels were built and people came for the "cure" staying weeks and months at a time, before automobiles when most traveled by horse or train.  The mineral water phrase used in many advertisements is simply a natural water that has been impregnated with foreign substances to cause a decided taste or color.  People thought that these waters could cure disease that medical science could not at the time.

(The Homestead Resort in nearby Hot Springs, Va)
 

What's more likely is that the clean mountain air and elevation did more to improve one's condition than the mineral water baths.  Two predominant diseases at the time, Yellow fever and cholera, did not exist in the mountains.  In 1793, Yellow fever killed one-tenth of the population of Philadelphia.  Cholera was known to kill 80 percent of its victims.



After the Civil War many spas were closed.  Better cures emerged for disease and the automobile made travel relatively easy so that people did not have to go to one place and stay for long periods of time. Fire was also a frequent culprit.  When these resorts burned there was no incentive left to rebuild.

Lucky for us the baths at Warm Springs are still in tact and open for visitors to use.  The hotel that sat behind the springs is no longer here (it was torn down around 1925).  The men's pool/bath house was built in 1761, making it one of the oldest spa structures still in existence.  It's ancient appearance is part of its charm.

 
The women's house is newer, built in 1836, they sit side-by-side.  The hotel also boasted cottages so that up to 300 people at a time could come and stay at the baths.  Several of the cottages are still in existence.  The idea was to bathe in the pools twice a day for 12 to 20 minutes each avoiding any active exercise while in the water.  Thomas Jefferson was a frequent visitor.
  
You can make reservations, there are "adult" and "children" times and make note that "swimsuits are optional."



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