Boiling Springs was founded in the early 1750s around the abundant artesian springs that appear to “boil” from deep underground. These are the largest springs in Pennsylvania and the third largest in the U.S., producing 23 million gallons of water daily at a constant 53 degrees. Several of these springs were dammed, creating Children’s Lake which powered the town’s earliest industries-an iron furnace and a gristmill.
The Carlisle Iron Works made cannons and cannon balls for The Revolutionary War. The Boiling Springs Tavern, originally named The Boiling Springs Hotel, was built in 1832. It originated as a roadside inn and restaurant and housed a small pharmacy. Children’s Lake became a popular destination when The Valley Traction Company opened a trolley park there in the early 1900s. After spending a summer afternoon renting paddle boats, dancing in the covered pavilion, or strolling down Lover’s Lane, people enjoyed a meal at the tavern and lodging for the night. Anheuser-Busch purchased the tavern under the direction of its founder, Adolphus Busch, and owned the building from 1902 until Prohibition in 1920.
In the mid-1800s, as well as operating as a restaurant and inn, The Boiling Springs Tavern was also part of the Kauffman Depot on the Underground Railroad. Men, women and children escaping slavery, crossed the Mason-Dixon Line into Chambersburg and then followed the South Mountain towards Boiling Springs. The Boiling Springs Tavern offered them shelter and protection before heading to Carlisle and points farther north.
Boiling Springs is located at the halfway point of the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail (AT) spans 2,200 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine. Every year, thousands of hikers attempt the four to six month “thru-hike” on the AT from Georgia to Maine. Earl Shaffer of York, Pennsylvania, became the first individual to complete a thru-hike in 1948. Fifty years later, at a youthful 80 years old, Earl also became the oldest person to complete the same feat. The AT is also a popular destination for day and section hikers.
The Tavern is nestled in a picturesque bend in the Yellow Breeches stream. As a world class fly-fishing stream, the Yellow Breeches draws fishing enthusiasts from around the globe. During the Revolutionary War, British soldiers washed their white pants – or britches – in the stream. Due to the sulfur content of these waters their pants turned yellow, and coined the now famous name of this iconic fishing destination.
The original building has been added onto in several stages through its history. A larger kitchen was created in 1863, and the dining room was expanded in the early 1950s. The last addition was the dining room overlooking the spring, which was completed in the mid-1970s. The Boiling Springs Tavern has currently been owned and operated for over 30 years by the Keith family. Their dedication to quality and consistency, as well as a passion for excellence, has created the award-winning restaurant that exists today.