Soak In A Little History at Jefferson Pools in Warm Springs, VA
this: You are Thomas Jefferson, its 1776, and you have just completed
writing the Declaration of Independence. What are you going to do now?
"Forget Disney World, I am going to Jefferson Pools."
Well, that's not quite how it happened. Actually, it was about 42 years
later in 1818 that Thomas Jefferson found his way to Warm Springs, VA
to soak his weary body in the healing waters of the Gentlemen's Spa. It
was then that he discovered what many have known for thousands of years
- the constant temperature of 98 degrees and the unique mineral content
of the springs provide a natural remedy to whatever ails your body and
the interest of equal opportunity (and luckily for us ladies), a women's
spa was built in 1836 and those same healing springs continue to flow
today to sooth any travelers, male or female, lucky enough to find this
little known treasure. In fact, these days, in addition to "Taking
the waters" visitors can also opt for a massage featuring ginseng
roots hand gathered from the area. The massage is the perfect complement
to a good soak and the best way to turn those taught muscles into spagetti.
VirginiaWind paid a visit to Jefferson Pools on a weekday when no one
seemed to be around, which provided the perfect opportunity for a tour
of the facilities. We barely made it into the park when we first began
to understand how that Warm Springs was more than just a name for the
area. Kent reached down placed his hand in a stream that connects the
men's and the women's bathouses and noted that the water, instead of feeling
cool, was just like warm bath water. It was about that time, when we were
overcome by the second most notable impression of the area - the unmistakeable
smell of sulphur emanating from the springs. There was little doubt that
these were not your run of the mill springs.
were greeted by the care taker who offered to show us around. He took
us inside the Gentlemen's Spa, an octagonal building, which happens to
be the oldest spa structure in America. Once inside, there was no mistaking
the purpose of the place as the building was dominated by a large deep
pool formed from natural rocks about 120 feet around in the center of
the structure. The water was very clear, and after a closer inspection
we noticed lots of bubbles rising from the stones that form the bottom
of the pool. We could hear the relaxing sounds of bubbles breaking the
surface and the sound of rushing water from a waterfall as the water left
We noticed a walkway around the pool with changing rooms off to the side.
Although one doorway looked like a changing room, the guide informed us
that down below was a place where you could sit and have the water fall
on you. Unable to resist, we went down the stairs for a closer inspection.
It was extremely damp, the sound of rushing water was very strong and
the air felt very clean. Just standing nearby was invigorating.
up in the main room, we looked up at the roof and noticed that at its
peak it was open. In fact, the roof only actually covers the changing
rooms and the walkway around the pool. For the most part the roof over
the pool is nothing but the rafters. At first this seemed odd but after
some thought, it made perfect sense. Given the temperature of the water,
it would probably never get very cold in the building, and without the
open roof it would likely get unbearably hot in the summer. The gases
coming up from the pool base might get a bit intense as well without the
extra circulation. As for rain or snow, that wouldn't really matter since
if you were in the pool you'd be wet already. Besides what could be more
natural than looking up into a clear blue sky on a beautiful morning while
soaking in a nice warm tub of bubbling water. Sigh........."Calgon
Take Me Away!"
Just as a side-note, because the men's and women's spas are separate
facilities, The Jefferson Pools are bathing suit optional so it gives
a whole new meaning to "ride free".
Hours of operation: June to October 10am - 6 pm
November to May: Please call (540)839-7547 for hours of operation.
Directions: I-66 west to I-81 south to Staunton, then Route 275 west
to U.S. 250 west, Route 42 south to Goshen, then Route 39 west to Warm