Dependable Erection

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Favorite places

It's not always a good idea to write about your favorite spots. Next thing you know, they're overrun with Bostonians and you can't even find a seat at the bar.

This place has been around for a while, though, and despite lots of folks writing about it previously, it's still far enough off the track that i don't think it's ever going to get crowded. I first found the pools almost by accident in 1999, back in the day when getting into the car on a Friday afternoon for a drive in the country with no particular destination was still possible.

Women's bathhouse, gift shop, and old well

The Jefferson Pools, according to the story, were originally founded in 1761 at a site where naturally warm and mineral rich water bubbles to the surface in the Virginia foothills. The claim that Thomas Jefferson himself designed the pools must be taken with a grain of salt - he's not documented to have visited the site until the 1810s.

Men's bathhouse

I like to think that there was a scandal sometime in the 1820s or so that led to the construction of a separate bathhouse for women, but no one i've spoken to at the Pools has any insight into why, after 65 or so years of operation, it became desirable to have a women's bathhouse. The pool in the women's is larger than in the men's, although not quite as deep. The well, shown in the first picture, used to provide mineral rich water for drinking, but that practice stopped a hundred or so years ago.

The whole place has this amazingly old, rundown feel to it, which is in stark contrast to The Homestead, a world class resort about 12 miles down the road in Hot Springs, VA, which actually owns and operates the Pools. It's easy to imagine horse drawn carriages pulling into the gravel lot, having made the trek over the mountain from Charlottesville in 12 hours or so, the gentry dusty and sore from the journey. A week's stay at a local inn, at minimum, after a trip like that, i would imagine.
Closeup of women's bathhouse

Interior of men's bathhouse

There's a little wooden gate off to the right in the above picture. That's the best part of the deal. The pools actually fill up pretty quickly. Once a week, they're emptied out and the rocks lining the pools are cleaned of the algae that likes to grow there. When the gate is closed, it takes about two or three hours to fill back up. When it's opened, though, it can empty the pool in about the same time. Climb down the stone stairs to a little pit that's under the sluice gate, and when it's opened, you understand that the oldtimers didn't need electricity to make a hot tub. Gravity works just as well, if you know how to harness it.

Massages and the like are available by appointment, although virtually everyone i've spoken to there has just come to take the waters. The Warm Springs Inn is walking distance away, and rates are fairly reasonable. A soak in the pools will set you back $17. Plus whatever a tank of gas is going for this week.



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