Red Sulphur Spring, c. 1850
The Red Sulphur Spring at Red Sulphur Springs, WV
, was a mineral spring, the waters of which were believed to possess curative properties. The spring was known as a watering place since the early 1800s, though it was likely visited by Native Americans following Indian Creek
through the region prior to European settlement. The springs were purchased by Dr. William Burke of Richmond, Va., in 1830. Burke built a hotel near the spring to accommodate up to 350 guests and an elaborate pavilion to protect the spring. Among its notable guests were Francis Scott Key and Roger Taney, chief justice of the Supreme Court. Ownership passed to U.S. Vice President Levi Morton, who expanded the hotel. The property was sold during World War I and divided into parcels. Now a private residence, only one hotel building remains near the site.
Though sulfurous, the waters of the Red Sulphur Spring were infused with many different minerals, which altogether imparted specific curative properties, according to persons who believed mineral waters could be used to cure illnesses. In his "History of Summers County, West Virginia" (1908), Judge James H. Miller, provided the following chemical analysis of the minerals present in the waters of the Red Sulphur Spring Spring -- 5.25 grains per gallon of calcium carbonate, 4.81 of magnesium carbonate, 4.14 of sodium carbonate, .55 of calcium sulphate, and .82 of silica.