The Salem Museum & Historical Society welcomes Lynn Reed as its speaker for the Society’s March Speakers Program.
Reed will speak about the fascinating history of the Montgomery White Sulphur Springs Resort, a renowned Grand Spa, which later served as a Confederate Hospital caring for both Confederate and Union troops. Today, only a monument to those soldiers remains. The program will be held at the Salem Museum on Monday, March 20 at 7 p.m.
In the 19th century, Montgomery County was a holiday destination thanks to several hot springs resorts. One of the largest was Montgomery White Sulphur Springs, incorporated in 1855. The Virginia-Tennessee Railroad brought guests from Lynchburg to the small station at Big Tunnel. From there, passengers rode cars propelled by gravity down to the resort.
The idyllic vacation spot was transformed by the Civil War. From 1862 to 1865, Montgomery White Sulphur Springs operated as a Confederate general hospital under Dr. J. Lewis Woodville, Chief Surgeon.
At its peak, Montgomery White accommodated up to 700 sick, wounded, and recovering Confederate soldiers. Space at the hospital was so limited at times that soldiers had to sleep in the bowling alley. Among the employees treating the troops and running the hospital were slaves and Catholic nuns from Charleston, South Carolina.
At least 265 Confederate soldiers died and were buried at Montgomery White Sulphur Springs during its time as a hospital. Although Union troops passed through the area in the last years of the war, the hospital was not disturbed. There were, however, 60 Federal soldiers recovering at the hospital when the Civil War ended.
The last remaining vestige of Montgomery White Sulphur Springs is the monument erected to honor the Confederate dead in 1889. The resort closed its doors in 1904 and reverted to farmland. The public is welcome and admission is free.
-Submitted by Frances Ferguson