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Virginia Springs - Summer Arrangement, Broadside, 1855


Materials in the Library of Virginia’s collections contain historical terms, phrases, and images that are offensive to modern readers. These include demeaning and dehumanizing references to race, ethnicity, and nationality; enslaved or free status; physical and mental ability; and gender and sexual orientation. 


Western Virginia's mineral-spring resorts were extremely popular in the 19th century. Travelers from throughout the United States, but especially from southern states, visited the resorts. There people would take in the "cure" or spring water, enjoy the bucolic rural landscapes, and what they believed was the restorative mountain air. On their way to the springs, travelers also sought the picturesque beauty of the state's natural wonders such as the Peaks of Otter and Natural Bridge.

The expansion of the railroad network during the 1850s made the long trip to western Virginia's resorts far easier. Broadside advertisements urged urban dwellers from Richmond, Petersburg, and other cities to escape the humid, unhealthy summers by traveling the railroads to visit mountain resorts. Travelers could complete their journey in one day (getting "through by day-light") instead of a trip that had formerly taken several days over bumpy, dusty mountain roads. In 1855, Virginians visiting the springs could travel on the state's newest railroad, the Virginia and Tennessee. The route linked several other rail lines and accelerated the population growth and economic development of much of southwestern Virginia and eastern Tennessee.
Broadsides, often overside printed sheets of paper, typically contained proclamations, announcements, or advertisements, and were publicly posted or distributed door to door.

Citation: Virginia Springs, Richmond & Danville, South-side and Virginia and Tennessee Railroads: summer arrangement. Richmond: Dispatch Steam Presses, 1855. Broadside 1855 .V8 FH, Manuscripts & Special Collections, Library of Virginia.


Social Studies: VS.1, VS.6 USI.1, USI.8
Art: 4.1, 5.1

Suggested Questions

Preview Activity
Look at It: Look at the broadside poster. What is being advertised? Why would this type of advertisment encourage travel?

Post Activities
Analyze: Taking this broadside as a starting point, how has travel changed since the 1850s? Take into consideration technology and economics of the time period.

Artistic Exploration: Design a broadside like this item for a trip you would enjoy. Be sure to include information about the location and why people might like to visit the area.