Webster Springs West Virginia
“Annual Webster County Wood Chopping Festival”

Town of Webster Springs WV

The town of Webster Springs located in Webster County, West Virginia was built at the fork of the Elk and Back Fork Rivers; and lies in a valley at the end of Point Mountain. Webster Springs is the county seat of Webster County with one hospital and one bank. The town has numerous shops, retail stores, grocery stores, pharmacies, a motel, and several restaurants.

Webster Springs was famous in the late 19th and early 20th centuries for its numerous salt sulfur water wells. Visitors believed that the water from the wells had medicinal qualities of healing.

One of the more unique festivals hosted by Webster Springs is the annual Webster County Wood Chopping Festival, a weekend-long competition in which lumberjacks from all over the world compete. Additional events and festivals include Webster Wildwater Weekend, and the Burgoo Cook-off.

Webster Springs is also known for the great trout fishing on the Elk and Back Fork rivers. Both native and stock trout are found in the waters and their tributaries.

History of Webster Springs WV

The saline springs, long used as a source of salt by Indians and as a salt lick by wildlife, was discovered in 1782 by early settlers John McQuirter and John Miller Sr. when they claimed a large tract of land near the site of the present town.

The town’s first permanent settlers were named William and Polly Arthur, who arrived in 1860 and established the first post office in Webster County at Fort Lick, the former name of Webster Springs.

The first postmaster, John Hall, along with Mr. Skidmore, drilled the first salt sulfur well in the county, known as “Old Spring” became a popular summer tourist location during the 19th and early 20th Century.

The town of Webster Springs had four total springs, that include: the Addison McLaughlin Well, Old Fork Lick Spring, Tracy Well, and the Wm. Smith Well. The wells were popular because people believed that the water from the wells had medicinal qualities. The water was used to treat skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, acne and arthritis.

The reputed medicinal qualities of the spring water attracted many visitors, and in 1890 a springhouse was constructed to provide greater access to the springs. A hotel was built about 1896 by industrialist and U.S. Sen. Johnson N. Camden and expanded into a truly grand structure by John T. McGraw by 1904.

 In 1897, Senator Johnson Newlon Camden built a 265-room hotel of Victorian style architecture, named the Webster Springs Hotel. This hotel which was larger than The Greenbrier Hotel built in 1913, which only has 250 rooms. On the interior, it contained stuffed bears, elks, and other wildlife of the local county in realistic poses. The hotel contained a tennis court, horse stables, garden, bowling alley, power plant, and Russian and Turkish baths. Visitors could enjoy the “medicinal” qualities of its salt sulfur waters. The hotel was also the largest wood frame hotel in West Virginia. The hotel was a staple for the economy which necessitated the building of smaller hotels in the town. Meanwhile, a narrow-gauge railroad arrived in 1902. With ready access and fine accommodations, Webster Springs became a summer resort.

In 1903, Colonel McGraw purchased the hotel and expanded it by 115 rooms; 40 were for salt sulfur baths, which took up the entire first floor of one wing. The entire southern wing of the hotel was given to bath rooms, including; “the plunge,” Turkish, Russian, Needle, Shower, and Steam baths.

On the night of July 20, 1925, the hotel caught fire and was burned to the ground, being completely destroyed, and in 1929 the railroad was discontinued, ending a decades-long tourist boom. Webster Springs continued as the center for business activities related to the coal and timber industries as well as the government activities.

  • Bakers Island Recreation area
  • Salt Sulpur Well
  • Addison Visitors Center & Gallery
  • Oakland Hotel Historic Building
  • Morton Mansion Historic Building
  • Sutton Lake Marina
  • Falls at Hills Creek


Back to West Virginia Mountains Cities & Towns Travel Guide