BERKELEY SPRINGS - Berkeley Springs celebrates its most unique historic site, George Washington's Bathtub, with a weekend devoted to colonial food specials, dollar sales and local history. From March 15-17, the spa town highlights the country's only outdoor monument to presidential bathing.
According to event organizer and historian, Jeanne Mozier, the mid-March weekend was selected because it is the anniversary of Washington's first visit to the springs when he was a 16-year-old surveyor's assistant.
"He returned repeatedly, owned property in town and bathed in the springs," she said. "Washington was probably one of the first people to use Lord Fairfax's bathhouse built in 1768. He came often during that decade."
Located in Berkeley Springs State Park, the stone tub is one of the most popular sites on the Washington Heritage Trail National Scenic Byway that traverses the three counties of the Eastern Panhandle. Other sites around Berkeley Springs directly connected to the first president include his two lots a block from the park and springs and the spectacular Panorama Overlook just three miles west of town.
"A self-guided tour of the Trail takes visitors through the whole county. It's a scenic adventure with a historic theme," Mozier said.
The season's opening of the Museum of the Berkeley Springs is a main event of the weekend highlighted by the traditional reading from Washington's papers.
In his journals, Washington praised the food he found during his visits to the springs. Several fine dining restaurants recreate colonial favorites ranging from peanut soup to hoe cakes. Local shops prove that Washington's face still means something in Berkeley Springs with dollar-related discounts and sales.
Nightlife on Saturday includes Blues & Brews at Earth Dog Café while live music at the Troubadour Lounge celebrates a little known meeting of George Washington and Saint Patrick.
"One thing Washington complained about when he visited Berkeley Springs was not having a place to stay," Mozier said. "Not true now."
Dozens of lodging options range from Victorian B&Bs in town to rustic cabins and fully equipped vacation homes along the rivers and ridges.
For all the details of Washington Bathtub weekend specials check www.berkeleysprings.com, call 800-447-8797 or check posters featuring George in a tub posted around town. George Washington's Bathtub Celebration is produced by Travel Berkeley Springs.