Visitors have flocked to Berkeley Springs for hundreds of years, beginning long before it became an official state park. Native Americans were likely the first to use the spring, which flows out of the ground at a constant temperature of 73 degrees and was thought to have heal ailments like arthritis and rheumatism. White settlers arrived to the area in the 1730s, and a young George Washington wrote about visiting the springs in 1748. At the time of Washington’s first visit, there wasn’t much happening at Berkeley Springs, but as word got out and more visitors came, a town steadily grew up around the spring. The town was originally called Bath, and it was incorporated in 1776. By that point the town was already thriving – and being condemned by religious leaders for the gambling and horse racing that was taking place there.
Throughout the late 1700s, the area was developed into a resort, with buildings constructed by James Rumsey, who would later go on to invent the steamboat. Some of Rumsey’s original buildings are still standing, but the bath house that currently exists there is a replacement constructed in the 1800s. Berkeley Springs was governed by various trustees, some public and some private, until the 1940s, when it came under the control of the Commissioner of Public Institutions. In 1970, the legislature passed a bill transferring the site to the Division of Natural Resources, allowing it to officially become a park. In 1976, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Despite being much smaller than most parks in West Virginia, Berkeley Springs is a popular destination and a big boon for Morgan County. The park had an economic significance of $3,047,311 in 2015.