Berkeley Springs Treasure Tour:
Rumsey’s Millstone

tour-rumseysmillstoneStrolling north along Washington Street, we approach the monument to James Rumsey who invented the steamboat while living in Bath in 1785. The stone is reputed to be a buhrstone from a mill on Sleepy Creek that Rumsey owned with Henry Bedinger — one of several mills Rumsey built in the area during the late 18th century. The monument was erected in 1908 by local photographer John Moray who became a partisan of the inventor. It is the world’s first monument honoring Rumsey.

Rumsey’s claim to space in the park is based on the historic record of having successfully demonstrated a pole boat model to General George Washington nearby in 1784. Rumsey also conducted early tests of his steampowered boat along Sir Johns Run (off Rt. 9 west at the top of the ridge) and later successfully demonstrated a model boat on the Potomac River near Shepherdstown in 1787. Rumsey received several patents for inventions in the United States and was sent to England under the patronage of Benjamin Franklin where he acquired several additional patents. There is an excellent Rumsey exhibit in the Museum of the Berkeley Springs at the northwest corner of the park.

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