Bath County is nestled in the Allegheny Mountains in west-central Virginia. The county is known for its pristine scenic beauty and rustic rural charm attributes that has brought accolades from residents and tourists alike. Indeed, Bath has long enjoyed national recognition as a major resort center.
Warm Springs, the county seat of Bath, is located just 25 miles from Interstate 64 and just 30 miles from Interstate 64’s intersection with Interstate 81 in Lexington.
Bath County was formed from parts of Augusta, Botetourt, and Greenbrier counties in December 1790. Named for the English resort city of Bath, Bath County was, similarly, to become a resort area of national reputation because of its soothing mineral waters.
At one time, Bath County had 22 commercial springs operating within its boundaries. These mineral waters were used for healing purposes and attracted patrons to the inns and hotels located at Hot Springs, Warm Springs, Bolar Springs, Millboro Springs, Healing Springs, and Bath-Alum Springs. Today, only the baths at Hot Springs and Warms Springs are still open to the public. The construction of the resort hotel, The Homestead, in the late 1920s, turned the community of Hot Springs into a nationally recognized resort center. Tourism has a considerable impact on the Bath economy. In 1997, nearly $150 million was spent by travelers in Bath County, and tourism generated more than 2,500 jobs.
Bath County encompasses 540 square miles of mostly mountainous terrain. There are five election districts within the County: Cedar Creek, Millboro, Warm Springs, Williamsville, and Valley Springs.
Both Bath and Highland lie within the Allegheny Mountains and are part of the Valley and Ridge Physiographic Province. The counties are characterized by high, narrow, mountain ridges that run northeast to southwest and that form relatively narrow river valleys. Most of the level areas are found on the terraces adjacent to streams and rivers. Elevations range from 4,546 feet above sea level in Highland County to 1,140 feet above sea level in Bath County where the Cowpasture River flows into Allegheny County.
The Jackson, Bullpasture, and Cowpasture rivers and other streams within Bath and Highland Counties are subject to moderate to severe flooding during periods of heavy rains or rapid thawing. Soils in both counties are primarily mountain soils derived from the weathering of acidic sandstone, shale, quartz, and granite parent material. These soils are often shallow, rocky, and excessively drained. Soils in the valleys range from carbonate soils to alluvial soils along rivers and streams. Colluvial soils resulting from the weathering of the sandstone and shale mountains are also found in the valleys. The predominant geological structure underlying the area is a complex formation of sandstone, limestone, shale, and dolomite.