Springs in Botetourt
Though it is hard to imagine this scorching July, people used to come from far and near to enjoy cooler summers and curative springs in Botetourt County! We describe here a couple of springs in our county for the 250th Anniversary.
Blue Ridge had Blue Ridge Springs Hotel. Visitors came from all over Virginia using the Colonial Road that follows modern day US 460. Curative powers in spring water were acclaimed throughout the United States. It was located on the eastern side of the road not far from the Boxley Field. Blue Ridge waters were acclaimed to be curative of indigestion and a 40-gallon barrel cost $6.
Dagger Springs near Gala Loop north of Eagle Rock hosted many people of importance including President Grover Cleveland. Dagger Springs Hotel burned in the early part of the 20th Century. Located near Mill Creek in Gala, it was an attraction of this area.
Wade Hampton, who was a Southern officer in the Civil War, would be a paid companion after the war, treating his customers with stories during dinner. President Cleveland fished the James River. It is said that Robert E. Lee brought his generals to Dagger Springs for a pre-campaign session before the ill-fated trip into Pennsylvania and Gettysburg. From reading an account of the hotel at the Lexington Library years ago, apparently the hotel had the best fried chicken in Southwest Virginia.
In Fincastle the wrought iron work on several of the older homes from the 19th Century can be traced from the influence of visitors who came to beat the heat and disease of the Deep South. Yellow fever was a particular hard malady of more southern climes and the appeal of mountains and spring waters was a real reason to come to Fincastle in the 19th Century. Big Spring in the recess of Fincastle’s Town Park was among the notable springs of Botetourt County
So on this hot week in July, maybe just drink some cold water and think at least at one point in time, Botetourt was a “cool” place to be!
-Cathy Benson, The Botetourt Bee
Sources: Lexington Public Library, Around Town, Fincastle Va. and Blue Ridge Springs