Summer Capital of the U.S.


James Buchanan, the only United States President born in Pennsylvania, became President in 1856. He made the Bedford Springs his summer White House, staying there many times and relaxing in its rural and stately elegance.

Among the events that happened here at the Springs during that time was when the President received the first trans-Atlantic cablegram from British queen Victoria. Also, it was here that Buchanan wrote and had published the statement declining a second term - the first time it had ever happened, and the only time until Lyndon Johnson in 1968.

Presidents William Henry Harrison, Taylor, and Polk visited the Springs while in office. In 1855 the U.S. Supreme Court heard the Passmore - Williamson case at the Springs. The case involved the issue of returning runaway slaves, the only time a case was heard outside of Washington, D.C. Other famous visitors included Thaddeus Stevens, for several summers, and many years later, former General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The mineral springs at the site were used for years for their "curative powers", but D. John Anderson bought the area and had the original stone hotel built there, by famous local builder Solomon Filler. The property became basically a self-contained unit, having food, lodging, laundry service, separate quarters for servants, entertainment, activities, and transportation. It was so popular that the Pennsylvania Railroad provided regular excursion trains for many years from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

During World War II, the hotel was used as a training center for radio operators, and then as an internment camp for Japanese diplomats and their families. Today the hotel has been closed for several years, but there is hope that a recently organized group of developers will restore the magnificence of the property and reopen it soon.

Although the Bedford Springs Hotel was the largest, there were other places used as resorts for the wealthy in the 19th century. Several presidents and other political leaders stayed at the Chalybeate Springs Hotel. The summer of 1867 was the first it was open as a full-fledged resort. This resort catered more to families than did the Bedford Springs, and some families would come year after year, sometimes staying for entire summers.

However, the Chalybeate had its share of famous visitors as well. Among those were Horace Greeley in 1875 and President James G. Garfield in 1878. In 1880, President Rutherford B. Hayes stayed there, as did Henry Ward Beecher and Robert Ingersoll. President Benjamin Harrison and Jay Gould were there in 1890, and about 1900 the Vanderbilts were guests.

It was one of the most widely known summer resorts in the East, often bringing in European musicians from New York and Philadelphia, and gamblers would often come for a month at a time to take advantage of the excitement and gaming.

The Arandale Hotel was another well known resort that is still in use today, though expanded, as the Bedford Elks Country Club. In Manns Choice, the White Sulpher Springs was built near the mineral spring there.

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