Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. America's resort.
The Greenbrier by Bobak Ha'Eri CC-BY 3.0
The Greenbrier is a national treasure that has been a resort to millions. It has served its country during a time of need, and it has been a world-class Golf destination. The Greenbrier is rich in American History. Let’s take a look at this fantastic place.

It All Started with Sulfur Water

People have been coming to the White Sulphur Springs area since 1778. You can thank the Native Americans for its popularity. They were the ones to bring the miracle of the sulfur waters to the settlers.

The sulfur waters cured everything from an upset stomach to rheumatism. People became fond of the curious liquid, and took to drinking and bathing in it as part of the “natural cure.”

The popularity of the area continued to grow, and in 1858 the original hotel was built on the site. The Grand Central Hotel welcomed many visitors. They would come to relax and partake of the waters that made the area famous.

But the Civil War was not kind to the hotel. The property changed hands between the North and the South. During that time it was both a hospital and a military headquarters.  The resort reopened after the war. Once again it became a destination for Northerners and Southerners alike. 

In fact, Robert E. Lee issued his White Sulphur manifesto from the hotel. He urged that the two societies merge into one cohesive unit for the good of the struggling country.

The Greenbrier Is Born

In 1910, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway purchased The Old White hotel and resort. They started on a significant expansion of the property. Four years later the resort sported a new hotel and mineral bath. It also had an 18-hole golf course designed by Charles Blair Macdonald. In 1914 the resort became The Greenbrier.

 The populace took to the resort in droves. President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson spent their Easter holiday there. Later that year Joseph and Rose Kennedy spent their honeymoon at The Greenbrier.

During War War II, the federal government needed The Greenbrier for active duty. At first, the State Department leased it for relocating hundreds of foreign diplomats. The diplomats held were Italian, German and Japanese, and it included their families. The government held the diplomats until the safe return of their American counterparts. 

In September 1942, the U.S. Army purchased The Greenbrier and turned it into a 2,000-bed hospital. The new hospital sported the name of Ashford General Hospital. During its four year stint as a hospital, over 24,000 soldiers received treatment there.

Life After the War 

The Army closed the hospital at the end of the war.  The Chesapeake and Ohio Railway once again bought the resort in 1946. At this point, the hotel needed a makeover. They hired famed designer Dorothy Draper to work her magic on the property. 

By 1948 the resort, once again under the name The Greenbrier, opened its doors for business. Golfing legend Sam Snead turned his attention to the resort. The Greenbrier became one of World’s most prominent golfing destinations. The resort recognized Snead for his work, and he became the first Golf Pro Emeritus. He held that position until his death in 2002.

In the late 1950s, the cold war was pushing the federal government to build a place of refuge. This refuge was for the U. S. Congress in the event of a nuclear war. The federal government determined that The Greenbrier was the perfect location.  Soon a 112,000 square foot secret bunker came to be under the resort grounds.

The bunker sported concrete walls over five feet thick and could house 1100 people. For 30 years, the government used a fake company for maintenance. This company, Forsythe Associates, performed maintenance and upkeep on the secret bunker. 

While the bunker was in operation, life above ground continued uninterrupted. It wasn’t until 1992 that the existence of the secret facility leaked to the general public. The leak led to the decommissioning of the secret bunker.

The Greenbrier Today


The Greenbrier continues to be a destination resort for many visitors each year. Jim Justice acquired it in 2009, and it has been undergoing a revitalization ever since. Today you will find world-class golfing,  casinorestaurantsshops, and more at the resort. It has never been a more popular place to visit. 

If you do anything at The Greenbrier, be sure to take the Bunker Tour. This tour will let you go behind the scenes.  You will marvel at what the government built right under the nose of resort visitors.

The Greenbrier Resort
300 W Main St
White Sulphur Springs, WV 24986
You can find additional information you may need on their website.



We hope you enjoyed this post from Got Mountain Life. Leave us a comment, check out some of our other great posts, and check out our Facebook page. Oh yeah, don’t forget to check out our Twitter feed! We’d love to hear about your love of the mountain life, so drop us a line.