The only outdoor monument to presidential bathing is along the west side of Berkeley Springs State Park. A major spring can be seen bubbling up through the tub. Before 1784, Washington would have bathed in the springs using scooped-out pools lined with sand and rocks and screened by woven brush. The existing stone tub was constructed to represent those early bathing conditions. An annual event celebrating George Washington’s Bathtub is held in mid-March on the weekend nearest March 18, anniversary of Washington’s first visit in 1748.
Washington wrote of his visits to the springs on several occasions.
“We found of both sexes about 250 people at this place, full of all manner of diseases and complaints; some of which are benefited, while others find no relief from the waters two of three doctors are here, but whether attending as physicians or to drink the water I know not. It is thought the springs will soon begin to lose their virtues, and the weather gets too cold for people not well provided to remain here. They are situated very badly on the east side of a steep mountain, and enclosed by hills on all sides, so that the afternoon’s sun is hid by 4 o’clock and the fog hangs over us till 9 or 10, like ghosts with occasional great damps and the mornings and the evenings to be cool.
However, I think my fevers are a good deal abated, though my pains grow rather worse, and my sleep equally disturbed; what effect the waters may have upon me I cannot say at present, as I expect nothing from the air this certainly must be unhealthy. I propose to stay here a fortnight and longer if benefited”
Washington’s letter to Reverend Charles Green – August 26, 1761.
The springs, wrote Washington, “are applied to in all cases, although there be a moral certainty of them hurting in some. Many poor miserable objects are now attending here, which I hope will receive the desired benefit, as I dare say they are deprived of the means of obtaining any other relief, from their indigent circumstances.”
Washington to Colonel John Armstrong – August 18, 17