Almost 200 years ago, a man named George Funk purchased from John Penn Jr., a descendant of William Penn, a tract of land northeast of Bedford that became known as “Funk Springs.” It was later changed to “Chalybeate Springs,” taking its name from three ever-flowing springs, the most celebrated of the three being the Chalybeate or Iron Spring.
As early as 1825, this spring began to acquire a national reputation for the medicinal properties of its water, which was barreled and sent to many parts of the country. In the period of 1880-1900, a salve made from the sediment of the spring was highly recommended for cure of skin diseases. As late as 1908, the hotel brochure read: “The Chalybeate waters are unsurpassed for their curative powers in ailments of the stomach, liver, and kidneys.”
It is known that Indians camped at these springs as many arrowheads have been found in the adjacent area. In 1786, Mr. Funk built a house where he operated a tavern. More was added to this first building as time went by. The bricks were made on the property: the walls were put together with a clay-type mortar. The hotel still stands and is in use 184 years after its erection. In the early days it was a comfortable haven where men and horses could refresh themselves, for the main road passed close by at that time.
Chalybeate Springs Hotel was built in 1851 and was a health resort and spa in the 19th and early 20th Century. It was once a 56 room complex, situated adjacent to a series of three springs: one, an iron impregnated (with chalybeate) spring; another, a sweet water spring; and the third, a limestone spring.
Chalybeate Springs is on the US National Register of Historic Places (N 40 degrees 01.613 W 078 degrees 29.002). According to local history, the springs were used by native Americans and early travelers for renewal.
Chalybeate waters are also known as ferruginous waters – that is, mineral spring waters containing salts of iron. Chalybeate springs are found in only a few locations in the world: the United Kingdom, Scotland, Germany, Austria, and the Appalachians of the eastern United States. These are areas where iron ore was once mined.