Imagine living in Washington, D.C. over 100 years ago without the comfort of air conditioning or electric fans. During the summer, Washingtonians would often take the train and stage coach to the nearby mountains in an effort to escape the city’s heat and humidity.
Capon Springs in West Virginia was a very popular mountain resort during the 19th century. Today, the resort is still in business and is a 90-minute drive west of Washington, but during the 1800s it took many hours of travel by rail and unpaved mountain roads.
The travel was worth the effort for many Washingtonians. Not only is the mountain climate noticeably cooler than that of the city, a swim in the 65-degree spring-fed pool could instantly refresh anyone during the hottest of summer days.
The main attraction for many of the mountain resorts was the spring water, for drinking, swimming and bathing. The healing properties of the water were advertised and often greatly exaggerated, touted to cure almost any type of ailment.
In addition to the spring water, the cooler mountain weather was also advertised. Hot Springs, Virginia boasted in their early posters that they were free from humidity and that they had an average July high temperature of 78 degrees. Hot Springs also boasted they were free from mosquitoes.
For city dwellers without air conditioning, an escape to a cooler climate in the mountains was quite desirable in summertime. Throw some “healing water” into the experience and resorts like Capon Springs became very popular vacation destinations for many decades.
Today, mountain resorts like Capon Springs are still an attraction for their water, relaxation, and various outdoor activities, but air conditioning has eliminated the need for Washingtonians to travel to the mountains to escape the heat.
Regarding the weather, our nearby mountain resorts continue to offer their city visitors cooler temperatures for activities such as golf, tennis and fishing, and the mountain scenery is often breathtaking. In addition, there is a sense of history and tradition at the old resorts.
A time-lapse video of a mountain sunset recorded from the Capon Springs golf course. Watch for the color in the sky to explode after 15 seconds. This sunset occurred on July 2, 2013. (Kevin Ambrose)