Hampshire County, WV: A World Away from it All
Feb 28, 2018 05:04PM
● By Vanessa Orr
Capon Springs & Farms Resort
Waking to the sound of gentle music being piped through the trees, it was difficult to remember how, less than a day before, I had been woken by a blaring alarm. Relaxing in a toasty, spring-fed shower, I could almost forget what it was like to battle traffic to make it to work. And with no TV or phones in the room, I could finally, blissfully, relax.
If this sounds like your idea of a perfect vacation, you don’t have to go far to find it. Capon Springs & Farms Resort, located in Hampshire County, WV, is a throwback to an earlier time when taking a break meant actually leaving the world and your worries behind. An eclectic combination of both a camp and a bed-and-breakfast, this 19th-century resort has been a favorite of families for generations and also attracts those who are looking for a place to disconnect from the daily grind.
As the gateway to the Potomac Highlands, Hampshire County is an idyllic place to visit whether you like nature, history, authentic bluegrass music or spending time with people who understand the importance of taking things a little slower. A typical day at the resort, for example, starts with raising the flag, followed by a big old country breakfast served family style. All of the resort’s breads, cakes and pies are baked on-site daily, and since every meal is all-you-can-eat, you can try all of the different delicacies. The resort’s focus on livestock farm-to-table means you’ll be enjoying eggs from free-range chickens and pork products from the resident pig herd.
Activities include swimming in a spring-fed pool (you can take part in an early-morning polar bear plunge if you want), as well as hiking, fishing, tennis, ping pong, shuffleboard and more. The resort also has a nine-hole regulation golf course and a nine-hole par 3 course where you can play regular games, as well as learn how to play fling golf (a mix of lacrosse and golf) or try your hand at hickory golf, using the same types of hickory-shafted clubs as were used on the course when it was first built in 1936.
I personally recommend visiting the Hygeia Bath House and Spa for a soaking bath—for 30 minutes, you can immerse yourself in 500 gallons of 102-degree Capon Springs water, which is known for its healing properties. In fact, for years this water was bottled and sold as a homeopathic remedy; now you can enjoy it everywhere at the resort, and I would swear that even after a day, it made a difference in how I felt.
Of course, some of that could be credited to the fact that instead of dealing with social media overload or work calls, I was instead enjoying all that Hampshire County had to offer, including a three-hour train ride on the Potomac Eagle through the Trough—a route that runs along the south branch of the bucolic Potomac River. Sitting in the gondola car, taking in the fresh mountain air and waving to kayakers on the river is a great way to relax; I also recommend finding out where some bluegrass is being played and joining in the fun.
I was lucky enough to hear a couple of amazing performers at the resort, and to take in an impromptu jam at North River Mills, where a few folks came together to play mandolins and even homemade instruments constructed out of cigar boxes. I was a little hesitant at first, because frankly, you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere and you’re not sure if you’re intruding, but everyone was incredibly welcoming. And man, could they play!
I was really impressed by the gregariousness of the people I met who were more than willing to share stories of the area and its rich history. Speaking of which, history buffs should head over to the county seat of Romney, WV, to learn more about the area’s rather bizarre participation in the Civil War. The town changed hands at least 56 times during the war, sometimes more than once in the same day. Imagine waking up in a Union state and living in a Confederate state by nightfall!
The Davis House, located in downtown Romney, does an impressive job of showing what it was like to be a Confederate supporter during that time. Part of Virginia until the state of West Virginia was created in 1863, it was home to three sons—two of whom fought for the South, and one who fought for the North. Hampshire County also played an important part in the French & Indian War; a battle near Fort Edwards was the largest battle to have occurred in what is present-day West Virginia, and you can learn more about it at The Fort Edwards Foundation Welcome Center located in Capon Bridge, WV.
While you’re in Capon Bridge, stop by the River House to dine on homemade delicacies (including meat dishes prepared by a national, award-winning butcher) and take part in multi-generational arts events including live musical performances, wild herb walks, yoga and more. It’s known for its homegrown arts and music and “sit-and-stay-awhile” ambiance, and all of this hip café’s sales go toward funding local arts programs.