At the time Jim C. and Jim M. Logan wrote their book Cold Spring Hotel Site: Uncovering its Layers of History in 2005, the earliest known public establishment at Cold Spring was Jacob Wingert’s tavern, which they noted was described in the following 1822 newspaper article:
“THE MINERAL COLD SPRING. The undersigned continues to keep the tavern at Cold Spring, 18 miles from Jonestown in Lebanon County, which is now one of the best and improved stands. The house is 50 feet in width, contains 12 rooms and 1 kitchen, 2 bathhouses, one springhouse and stables. It has the best food, drink and beds, besides provisions of hay and oats. Those who wish to spend the summer here are informed that they will be accommodated at the cheapest rate. The region is healthful, and the water excels any in the State for many complaints, and has been proved beneficial by many people. The diversity of games, dancing and fishing will give sufficient pleasure in this fresh valley and hills. Men and women who like to seek this sort of refreshment can be confident of receiving complete satisfaction from this servant of the Public. Jacob Wingert” -- Der Lebononer Morgenstern and Der Ware Democrat, August 3, 1822, translated from German by Christine Weaver
According to various newspaper articles and other sources, people had been going to Cold Spring to benefit from its waters since before the American Revolution, but little is known about if and what accommodations existed for visitors in those early years. Fortunately, we recently came across a newspaper advertisement showing the existence of a public establishment that pre-dates Jacob Wingert’s tavern at Cold Spring by nearly twenty years:
The Oracle of Dauphin & Harrisburgh Advertiser – March 28, 1803
The public are respectfully informed, that owing to the misfortune of losing all my buildings by fire, on the night of the 27th February last, no accommodations can be had for those who may be disposed to visit the Cold Springs, in West Hanover township, Dauphin county, the ensuing summer, unless the charitably disposed should enable him to reinstate himself, so to serve a generous public.
Note that in 1803, Cold Spring was located in Dauphin County, the county of Lebanon not being formed until 1813 (from parts of Dauphin and Lancaster Counties). Lebanon County reached only as far north as the Blue Mountain until 1821 [see map], when the boundary was extended to the top of Fourth or Stony Mountain. Cold Spring was then located in East Hanover Township, Lebanon County. In 1842, when a portion of East Hanover Township was taken to form Union Township, the boundary line between the two townships lay just six feet from the then existing tavern at Cold Spring, meaning part of what we now call the Cold Spring site was in East Hanover Township and part in the newly erected Union Township. The 80-acre Cold Spring site remained divided between these two townships until 1853, when Cold Spring Township was formed from parts of East Hanover and Union Townships. A detailed description of these changing county and township boundaries can be found in Egle's 1883 History of Dauphin & Lebanon Counties.
Philip Culp’s newspaper notice doesn’t identify the number or type of structures at Cold Spring before the fire, although it clearly indicates Culp had a public establishment at Cold Spring. The destruction of “all [his] buildings” compelled him to notify his former patrons that he would not be able to accommodate anyone wishing to visit the springs that summer. A tavern house would seem likely in order to provide meals and drinks and overnight accommodations, a means by which to profit from visitors to the well-known Cold Spring. Perhaps, like Jacob Wingert, a bathhouse, a springhouse and/or stables stood on the property. Having no railroad and a poor wagon road at best, most visitors would have gone over the mountain on horseback to visit the spring, certainly necessitating provisions and lodging for horses.
In the advertisement, Culp also subtly asks for assistance in rebuilding his establishment: “…unless the charitably disposed should enable him to reinstate himself, so to serve a generous public.” It is not known what form of assistance – financial, material or labor – he sought, whether or not he received help, or if he ever rebuilt his establishment.
Our current research has yielded very little about Philip Culp. A “Phillip Culp” appears in the 1810 census living in East Hanover, Dauphin County. Unfortunately, the early censuses contained only minimal information on the people and households recorded. All the 1810 census reveals is that Phillip Culp was head of a household which consisted of: one male, 45 years or older; one male, 16-25; one female, 16-25; and one female, 10-15. A “Philap Coulp” is listed on the Return of Taxables for the East End of Hanover for 1751. And a “Philip Colp” is listed on the East End of Hanover Assessment for 1756, on which it is noted that he, among many others, had “fled” from the Indian attacks, his home abandoned at the time the assessment was made. We cannot be sure if any of these are the individual who had the believed tavern house at Cold Spring. If it was either person listed on the records from the 1750’s, he would have been around 70 years old (at least) in 1803 when the fire destroyed the buildings at Cold Spring. Not impossible, but a more likely explanation may be that a son or grandson, also named Philip, entertained the public at Cold Spring in 1803.
Since Cold Spring was situated in Lancaster County prior to the county of Dauphin being formed in 1785, more research needs done in the early records and history of Lancaster County in the hope of finding more about Cold Spring in the mid-to-late 1700’s. More research needs done on Philip Culp, too.
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