Washington Heritage Trail Interpretive Center



George Washington – Young Explorer
George Washington and Christopher Gist on the Potomac River

Courtesy Mount Vernon Ladies Association

Part of a surveying crew for Thomas Lord Fairfax, 16-year-old George Washington first saw “ye fam’d warm springs,” on March 18, 1748. During the next decade, he visited the springs with his brother Lawrence, surveyed land in Great Cacapon, built forts and pursued Indians through the region.

Washington, now a major in the Virginia militia, is portrayed here with Christopher Gist, a noted wilderness guide and interpreter on their return from a trip to deliver a message from Virginia Governor Dinwiddie to the French along the Ohio frontier in 1753.

George Washington – Virginia Planter
George and Martha Washington with her children Patsy and Jacky

Courtesy Mount Vernon Ladies Association

WHTIC-gwmw-courtshipDuring the 1760s, George Washington lived the life of a Virginia planter at Mount Vernon. He visited the popular resort of Berkeley Springs (then known as Warm Springs or Frederick Springs) with his family during the “season” for weeks at a time. He hoped “taking the waters” would help Martha’s sickly daughter, Patsy. Much of Washington’s time at the springs was spent riding, dining and visiting with the Fairfaxes who called the settlement “our Bath.”



George Washington Supports Early American Industry
George Washington

Courtesy of Mount Vernon Ladies Association from an original at Washington and Lee

In September 1784, George Washington stopped in Berkeley Springs, now established as the town of Bath, on a trip to see his land in the Ohio Terrirtory. He stayed at the recently opened Throgmorton’s Inn. While there, he met James Rumsey, an inventor and partner in the Inn. Washington contracted with Rumsey to build a summer house overlooking the springs on two lots he had bought in the town’s original auction in 1777. Washington championed Rumsey’s efforts to develop a working steamboat and hired the inventor to build a canal for his Potomac Navigation Company.

WHTIC-rums-wash-certWashington’s certificate endorsing James Rumsey’s invention of a mechanical boat

The certificate was issued during his visit to Bath/Berkeley Springs in September 1784. Rumsey used Washington’s certificate to garner support from several state legislatures for development of his various boat inventions.