Mineral Springs Resorts

By the early-1800s, several mineral springs resorts had opened within Virginia's New River Valley region. Early visitors traveled to the area by stagecoach, but by 1854 the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad (V&T) had completed its line from Lynchburg as far west as Wytheville, VA, greatly facilitating travel to and from the region. Despite the physical limitations of the early steam locomotives and the steep grades over many mountains, the V&T passenger trains managed to average an "amazing" 25 MPH along its route through Southwestern Virginia. The area's tourism industry flourished, and many of the region's mineral springs developed into lavish resorts and spas.

By the Turn of the 20th Century, the popularity of mineral springs began to decline, which resulted in the closure of many resorts in the New River Valley. However, at least one resort, Crockett Springs, managed to survive into the 1930s. A publication of 1911 noted that Virginia was second only to New York in the number of springs utilized commercially.

Montgomery County Springs

1856 Map of Springs Resorts in Montgomery Co., VAMost of the mineral springs resorts of Virginia's New River Valley region were located in Montgomery County. The map of 1856 (at right) shows the location of the early springs resorts in the county.

Alleghany Springs was located on the South Fork of Roanoke River, three and a half miles south of Alleghany Depot, in the vicinity of present-day Shawsville, VA. Stagecoaches operated between the railroad depot and the resort, transporting visitors to and from the facility. The resort was located about 18 miles southwest of Salem, and about 10 miles east of Christiansburg. Although established some years earlier, Alleghany Springs began to develop into a popular destination in the early 1850s. Originally opened in 1853, by 1880 the resort hotel had expanded in size to provide accommodations for almost 1,000 guests. The resort closed in 1904 following a devastating fire (NRHP registration form), however the owners continued to market bottled water after the resort's closure. Several historic photos from Alleghany Springs are found at Virginia Tech's Imagebase, including: view from Alleghany Springs, buildings, gazebo, and golf course.

Crockett Springs was lLocated on the South Fork of Roanoke River, several miles upstream from Allegheny Springs. Crockett Springs was the last mineral resort opened in Montgomery County. The resort was owned by the Virginia Arsenic Bromide and Lithia Springs Company, which erected a two and one-half wood frame hotel at Crockett Springs in 1889. The resort closed in 1939. Several historic photos of the Crockett Springs resort can be found on the Virginia Tech Imagebase, including: Crockett Springs, the resort, hotel, side view, hotel, from front, and the resort grounds.

Montgomery White Sulphur Springs was located about one and three-quarter miles north of the V&T railroad station at Big Tunnel, near present-day Shawsville. The resort is referred to as as one "of recent discovery and improvement" in a 1859 publication. The resort opened in 1855 and was closed in 1904 (NRHP registration form). The Virginia Tech Imagebase has several historic photos of the resort online, including: Montgomery White Sulphur grounds, Pavilion, guests at pavilion, and the resort.

Yellow Sulphur Springs was located about three and one-half miles north of the V&T's Christiansburg Depot. The buildings of the resorts are described as being "new" in a publication of 1859, however the same publication notes the resort had been attracting visitors "for nearly sixty years." A editorial printed in the Nov. 23, 1810 Richmond Enquirer described the spring (called "Taylor's Spring" and "The Yellow Spring" by the author) in great detail. Following the arrival of the V&T railroad, the owners of Yellow Spring built a turnpike from the resort to the railroad station in Cambria (present-day Christiansburg, VA). Several photographs of Yellow Sulphur Springs can be viewed at Virginia Tech's Imagebase, including: the central hotel building, the gazebo, new hotel at Yellow Springs, old hotel and gazebo, and Yellow Springs Resort. The historic Yellow Springs property was purchased in 1997. The new owners have since reopened the property as an inn and healing spa and are working to restore the buildings and grounds.

Carper Lithia Springs is a bit of a mystery. The location of this resort is listed as Radford, VA, in a 1912 publication, and was apparently also referred to as Carper Alleghany Lithia Springs, however at this time we've found little else regarding this resort.

Eggleston's White Sulphur Springs was located about twenty five miles downstream on New River from Central Depot (present day Radford) near the present-day community of Eggleston. The Virginia Tech Imagebase has one historic photo of the Eggleston Springs Hotel online. Eggleston's White Sulphur was also known as New River White Sulphur during the early years of the resort. The 1857 Album of Virginia featured a print of Bullard Rock along New River, also know as The Palisades and Eggleston Palisade, just opposite of the mineral resort at Eggleston.

Pulaski County Springs

Pulaski Alum Springs was located on Little Walker Creek, about 10 miles from the town of Newbern and about 7 miles from the V&T's Dublin Depot. A 1959 publication noted the resort was owned by a Mr. Hunter, who was then furnishing "accommodations for about one hundred visitors" at the Alum Springs resort. The resort was also known as Hunter's Alum Springs. The Wilderness Road Museum has one photo of Alum Springs online, and New River Notes has another view of the resort.


Sources


Resources of South-west Virginia ...

The Virginia Springs, and Springs of the South and West, pub. 1859

Mineral Resources of Bland County in Southwestern Virginia, pub. 1911

Bulletin No. IV ..., pub. 1912