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York Sulphur Springs, the first summer resort in Adams County, was
patronized by persons from Philadelphia and Baltimore who came to the
resort by stage coach.
The land upon which the Springs was built on a tract owned by the
Wiermans. When first settlements were made, the original building
conformed to the plan of too many of the older taverns and housed only
fifty guests. The later building was erected partly on the old
foundation about 1790. A cross wing or section in the rear made a
perfect T formation. A colonnade extended along both sides of the main
building, forming delightful balconies. The hotel was beautiful, most
attractive and symmetrical. The lawns, walks, rustic bridges and arbors
were kept in perfect condition. Not only the lawns but the nearby woods
were swept with brooms.
Arnold Gardner and Charles Kettlewell first leased and later bought
York Sulphur Springs from the heirs of Robert Oliver and it was during
their nine years of ownership that the place reached the height of its
popularity. One-hundred-fifty guests could be accommodated, but at times
the hotel was so crowded that rooms had to be secured at nearby farm
houses for guests.
From records of the Hamilton and Dill families, we find that General
George Washington and his wife Martha did spend some time at the Springs
during the summer of 1799 when John Hamilton was proprietor of the
place. This was the last summer of the old General's life as he died the
Bowling, croquet playing, dancing, and drinking from the famous
spring were the amusements for the guests. The water was very
unpalatable but highly medicinal in value. An analysis showed that it
contained 20 parts Epsom salts, 6 parts gypsum, 4 parts common salt, and
the balance sulphur. This sulphur vein extends as far as Wierman's Mill
and is especially noticeable in very warm weather.
The first balloon ascension in Adams County was made from York Sulphur Springs for the entertainment of its many guests.
The main building survived the others for some years but was finally
destroyed by fire January 8, 1896. Donald Miller's stone bungalow is
built on the exact site of the old hotel so famous nearly two hundred
years ago. After railroads were built, the Springs popularity decreased
rapidly and finally the numerous buildings that made up the site fell
into decay and gradually disappeared.
Although the information for York Sulphur Springs exists within what
is considered the boundaries of York Springs, the existing information
now encompasses Latimore Township. In the last decade there has been a
large increase in the Hispanic
population, with workers from Mexico
coming to the area to work in the local apple orchards.
York Springs previous names were: York Sulphur (Sulfur) Springs and Petersburg.