Virginia Center for Civil War Studies

Montgomery White Sulphur Springs

 

Essentials:

  • Montgomery County hot springs resort incorporated in 1855
  • Used as a Confederate general hospital during the Civil War
  • Confederate monument erected 1889 is only remnant of the once-thriving resort, which closed in 1904
  • 265 Confederate soldiers are buried at the resort site near the monument

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Montgomery White Sulphur Springs

In the nineteenth 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 (Montgomery). 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.

Montgomery White

Montgomery White Sulphur Springs Confederate Dead monument and marker (Tom Seabrook)

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, sixty Federal soldiers recovering at the hospital when the Civil War ended.

Today, the soldiers’ cemetery, the slave cemetery, and what is known as the nuns’ cemetery are inaccessible to the public. The last remaining vestige of Montgomery White Sulphur Springs is the monument erected to honor the Confederate dead in 1889. Originally located on the main concourse at the resort during its heyday in the late nineteenth century, the monument was moved to its current location close to Den Hill Road in 1949, forty-five years after the resort closed its doors and reverted to farmland. One resort hotel from Montgomery County’s past remains at Yellow Sulphur Springs, home to a modern health spa and located at 3145 Yellow Sulphur Road, between Blacksburg and Christiansburg. Two cabins from Montgomery White were bought when the resort closed and moved into Blacksburg, where they remain, remodeled as private residences, just down the road from the fire station and Virginia Tech airport.

Finding Montgomery White Sulphur Springs

1865 Den Hill Road

Christiansburg, VA 24073

To reach the monument from Blacksburg, take Ellett Road left from North Main Street. Ellett Road becomes Cedar Run Road. Follow Cedar Run until it forks at Lusters Gate Road and Den Hill Road. Take a right onto Den Hill Road and drive 2.6 miles until you see a wooden staircase leading down off the road to the right. This is the access point for the monument. A historical marker at the Ironto rest stop on I-81 discusses the wartime history of Montgomery White Sulphur Springs and commemorates the reorganization of the Southern Historical Society that took place there in 1873, headlined by former Confederate president Jefferson Davis.

 

For More Information

Dorothy H. Bodell, Montgomery White Sulphur Springs: A history of the resort, hospital, cemeteries, markers, and monument (Blacksburg, VA: Pocahontas Press, Inc., 1993).

 

 

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