Through the years one important natural resource, water, has played a significant role in the development of the Cambridge Springs area. Members of the great Iroquois and Seneca Indian nations forded French Creek at the present site of Cambridge Springs, for this crossing proved to be the fastest route to the protected shores of Lake Erie. Early settlers of Cambridge Township were attracted to the plentiful water supply available to them in the fertile valley near French Creek. This waterway eventually became their most efficient route to the markets of the Ohio Valley. Still later, exploitation of the mineral springs provided the community with a name and a nationwide reputation.
The first settlers of Cambridge Township immigrated from the Susquehanna Valley, perhaps attracted by the similarity of geography and climate. Purchasing land from the Holland Land Company, based in Meadville, they engaged in farming and related occupations. As more settlers were attracted to the area, a village grew up on the banks of French Creek known as Cambridgeboro.
In 1801 a Dutchman, Job Van Court with his son, Ben, purchased 100 acres from the Holland Land Company and thereby became the first settler of Cambridgeboro. He erected a log cabin on the spot later occupied by the Parkview Inn.
The first public improvement was a bridge built across French Creek in 1815 by John St. Clair through private subscriptions. This span provided easy access to the village for travelers and ultimately resulted in regular coach routes. One of the famous travelers to visit Cambridgeboro was Gen. Lafayette, hero of the American Revolution. He held a reception for local citizens in 1820 at the Old Cambridge House.
With an economic base and growing population, a petition to incorporate as a Borough was filed by forty-five citizens on February 16, 1866, with the Crawford County grand jury. Approved by the Court of Quarter Sessions on April 3, 1866, the first election was held on April 17, 1866. The first burgess of the newly created Borough was noted citizen A.B. Ross. By 1868 the Federal Government had appointed the first postmaster for the Borough. At this time the small community boasted some 450 residents.
By the early 1900s, more than 40 inns and resorts were in operation as tourists flocked to benefit from the reported healing properties of the local spring water. Only one of these hotels, the Riverside Inn, remains in active use today and has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1978. Also listed on the National Register of Historic Places are the Cambridge Springs Bridge and Amos Kelly House.
From 1912 to 1987 it was home to Alliance College. In 1912 United States President William Howard Taft traveled to Cambridge Springs for the dedication.
The borough adopted a home rule charter on May 21, 1974 that took effect on January 5, 1976.
Visitors to present day Cambridge Springs will find a number of small shops and restaurants.