University of Virginia Historical Collections at the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library

Dagger’s Springs (Dibrell’s Spring)

Botetourt County, Virginia

Indeed, the place has long been remarkable for sociability, and there are few, if any, situations in our mountains where a period of relaxation from the cares and business of life can be more agreeably spent.  John J. Moorman

Transcription of "Dagger's White Sulphur Springs." Lexington Gazette, July 17, 1838.

Transcription of “Dagger’s White Sulphur Springs.” Lexington Gazette, July 17, 1838.

William Burke on Dagger’s Springs

Situated about 14 miles from Virginia’s Natural Bridge, Dagger’s Spring, also known as Dibrell’s Spring and Daggar’s Spring, is located in Botetourt County, Virginia. The proprietor at the time of the first edition of Burke’s book published in 1842, Charles L. Dibrell, informed Dr. Burke that he sometimes had 200 visitors at a time, but Burke thought that 150 was a more reasonable number for comfort. Unlike his assessment of the arrangement of the Blue Sulphur Springs buildings, Burke found the structures at Dagger’s Spring well arranged not only for convenience but also for effect. He wrote of the “kind attentions, the delightful fare, and comfortable lodgings of our friend, Mr. Dibrell.”

Burke was also most appreciative of the setting as he wrote, “The lawn is a very beautiful slope, descending from the Hotel to the Spring some 300 yards, and is well shaded by fine indigenous trees. Altogether, it is an interesting spot, and affords to the weary traveler, after a long day’s journey, a sweet haven of repose and quietude, from whence he may retrace, with his mind’s eye, the magnificent scenery he has just passed, and especially that most sublime of all the creations of Nature in Virginia – the passage of the James River through the Blue Ridge Mountain.” {Burke, 365-6}

Dr. Burke’s final paragraph on these springs in his second edition states, “Within the last three years, this Spring has reverted to Mr. Watkins, from whom, we believe, it was purchased by Mr. Dibrell. We hear it is well kept and attracts a due share of custom.” {Burke, 357} It appears Burke did not visit Dagger’s Spring between the writing of his first and second editions. John Moorman, for many years the resident physician at White Sulphur Springs and the author of a book published in 1857, said that these Springs were first opened to the public in the 1830s by a Mr. Daggar and then James W. Dibrell hence it being known by different names. {Moorman, 241}

Burke’s Recommendations for Using the Waters at Dagger’s Springs.

Dr. Burke suggested that the sulphur water at Dagger’s Spring was useful in the treatment of several unnamed diseases. He judged the water somewhat comparable to the waters from the Blue Sulphur and the White Sulphur Springs and therefore probably applicable to similar diseases. Claiming no reliable information within his reach, he did not elaborate.


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