How did Bath, Pennsylvania get it’s name? This page provides a brief history about the naming of Bath, Pennsylvania, the people who settled it, and the industry rising within it.
A small settlement and at one time a fashionable watering place in Bristol Township on Durham Road (Route 152), about a half mile northwest of Bristol Borough. It is figured on the A. W. Kennedy Map of Bucks County (1831). Two mineral springs at this place appear to have been known as early as 1700. It is natural to suppose that Bath in Bristol Township was named from Bath, Somersetshire, England, site of famous mineral baths, the earliest, King’s Bath, having been enclosed in 1236. In the eighteenth century Bath was the most fashionable watering place in England. Its proximity to the city of Bristol, both located on the river Avon, doubtless figured in the suggestion for the name of Bath in our own county. By 1720, the year Bristol Borough was incorporated, the baths had already become popular and were used by prominent colonists for drinking and bathing purposes. At that time visitors stopped in Bristol and rode or walked out to the spring. Dr. Benjamin Rush, of Philadelphia, himself a frequenter of the baths, analyzed the water and wrote a paper on the springs, which he read before the American Philosophical Society at Philadelphia in 1773. The publicity thus obtained increased their popularity very much. Dr. Joseph Minnick bought the springs in 1807, built the celebrated Bath Springs House in 1810, laid out a race track and did much to bring the place into prominence. Gordon’s Gazetteer of Pennsylvania (1832) gives the following description of the surroundings at that time: “There are two of these springs. Over one of them a bath house was erected many years since. This is distant from the principal part of the town about half a mile in a northwestern direction, in a low piece of ground or meadow and within a few yards of a head of a pond. It has received the name of Bath. The surface of the water is colored with a dark yellow or ochre colored substance, usually indicative of chalybeate springs. It has been pronounced by distinguished medical men to be serviceable in some complaints, and at one period enjoyed considerable repute. The other spring is at the west end of the village and is of similar character to the former.” Bath enjoyed popularity until the exploiting of the Saratoga Springs in 1822, when it declined rapidly. The Bath Springs House was sold for a private residence and the grounds were used for picnic purposes. The site was finally acquired by the Pennsylvania Railroad Company about 1921, although the bath houses had been removed and the old hotel had fallen into decay long before that date. One of the few mementoes of the old Bath Springs still in existence is an engraving of the site and buildings by William Russell Birch, a copy of which is in a collection of similar material in the Library of The Bucks County Historical Society. Birch was an enamel painter who came from England to Philadelphia in 1794 and then abandoned enamel painting and turned to line engraving on copper from his own drawings. His twenty-eight plates entitled “The City of Philadelphia, published by W. Birch, Springfield Cot. near Neshaminy Bridge on the Bristol Road, Pennsylvania, Dec. 31, 1800,” made him celebrated. The original prints have become scarce and costly, but they have been reissued a number of times. It is probable that it was while his plant was located at Neshaminy Bridge that he made the plate with the title, “Bath, near Bristol, Pennsylvania.” It shows the Springs House with its dormer windows and broad double-topped chimneys at either end, bath house cupola, and a pond impounded by a heavy stone wall, topped with a walk and railing.
Source: MacReynolds, George. Place Names in Bucks County Pennsylvania, 2nd Edition. Doylestown, PA: The Bucks County Historical Society, 1955.