Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Best Water You Could Get: Black Hawk Spring

If you haven't lived in the area for longer then 20 years, you may have no idea what I'm talking about.  However, if you have, you'll remember at one time you could drive just outside of Media to get pure spring water flowing out of open public spigots over by Tyler Arboretum.  If you drive down Barren Road in Middlletown, you can still see the remnants of this location about halfway between where Penncrest High School is and the entrance to the park by the Ridley Creek.

People came from all over on a routine basis to collect this water.  In fact, it was so popular that in 1987 they relocated the spigots at a cost of $87,000 from the west side of Barren Road to across the street where they also included a parking lot.  At the time, Wawa contributed $40,000 and Middletown Township kicked in $15,000 with a stipulation that the water would always be free. Others contributed too to preserve this well liked natural resource.  


original location of the spring
It was reported that as many as 200 people a day could show up with plastic and glass jugs to take home what many thought was the best water around.  If you drove by during the warmer months, it was a regular site to see people waiting in line.  Even Wawa was interested at one point in selling it as a bottled product within their stores.  They went so far as to have a Black Hawk Spring label made up in anticipation, but found the economic feasibility lacking.   During the early nineties, selling water in a bottle wasn't as generally accepted by consumers as it is today.  Some even thought the idea buying water as ridiculous. Times have changed.


spring was moved across the street to this location
How good was the water?  Apparently it was some of the purest around and had been relied on by the Lenni Lenape Indians since the 1600s.  Some claimed it had therapeutic properties and cherished it enough to leave monetary contributions to help keep the free water flowing.  I don't know if you really notice GOOD water, but you definitely can taste sub-par water.  However, the whole presentation of water coming out of a spring deep in the woods definitely had an impact on the experience and taste.  This water was good and cold.
Suk said the water was so pure that often the monthly tests come back from the laboratory with hardly any reading of pollutants. "In the three years that I have been here, the spring was shut down only once, and that was due to natural contamination, rotted leaves and the like," he said (Philly.com 1987)


parking lot blocked
I had always heard the reason for the closure of the spring was due to development of a large home above the spring that eventually contaminated the water.  There's never been any direct correlation with that theory and the spring, but Tyler did eventually close it in 1992 due to an increase in frequency of bacteria levels found in the water.  

The former site still exists but has since grown over with heavy brush.  The outline of the former parking lot is still there, but has also grown over and now has a guard rail blocking the entrance.  What's interesting is that the area where the taps were is very damp, so I imagine the spring still provides water to this very day.







29 comments:

  1. I remember going to the spring with my grandparents and milk jugs. I drive that road a lot and think about what a shame it was to lose something like that. My kids look at me like I'm nuts when I tell them about it.

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  2. I remember going to this spring a couple of times a week in the early 80's. I would fill 10 water jugs per visit. Of course this is when I would run the 5 mile course in the park. The only time I recall it being shut down was when an animal fell in. Tedman you are correct people would come from all around to this spring. I met people from Philly who would drive there for the water it was that good. The big rumor back then was that Wawa was going to buy the spring and sell the water thus no more free water to the masses. I lived in an apartment back then and the tap water sucked so the spring was a godsend. Thank you for bringing this story to light. I miss that spring.

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  3. I remember going with my Dad and brother and sister. The water was so cold and fresh on a hot day. My Dad said that an older gentleman use to take care of the spring and when he passed away that was when they closed up the access. Don't know if this is true or not, but I have great memories of stopping there.

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  4. I loved the Black Hawk Spring! I went to Penncrest and can remember many, many times going there for just a drink and we went there all the time with jugs and jugs to fill up and take home. Sometime in the early to mid 70s, they talked about closing the spring and a committee was formed to save the Black Hawk Spring. I was part of that committee and even had shirts made up with the saying, "Save The Black Hawk Spring" and it was a huge success because the spring did indeed remain open until 1992. On a hot summers day, there was always a line and people came from all over to get the delicious, cool spring water. Many fond memories of the spring and the times spent there.

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  5. When that huge home up the hill was built (By Arter's Bros.?) this IS when it all went down hill for the spring. It was closed down withing a year or so of the completion of the house if we I remember correctly.

    I remember specifically hearing that it was E. Coli that was being found withing the water.

    I remember one time at ~3am talking to folks that had driven 3 hrs from Maryland just to get this water.

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    1. I am a conservative and that is too bad your precious spring was shut down by probably a self made man who built that house on the hill. Wildlife were probably disenfranchised as well so be it. Drink bottle water as I now own a company that sells water to the sheeple that vote democratic.

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    2. Anon 6:21 You sound like you are on the board of Broomall's Lake CC. Total A-hole and entitled to boot. When the revolution comes down you will be the first to go. Deal with it loser.

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    3. More like a civil war. Keep typing while I keep loading.

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    4. What a shame to mess up a great article about a wonderful place with your political b s. Shame on both of you....

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  6. Tedman, I don't know you and have no idea whether you'd be a good mayor, but I appreciate you and your blog. Thanks for the story.

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  7. I remember seeing a car trunk being opened with empty jugs waiting to be filled and a pigeon flying out of the car ! Driver and bird from Philly, I guess. Wasn't it giardia (racoon poop) that was the problem?

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    1. ... more like septic tank.

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  8. I remember as a child growing up in Media taking a ride with my Dad,Mom and siblings on a hot steamy night..No air conditioning to keep us cool, just the refreshing taste of ice cold fresh water coming from this spring. Our tin cups in the glove compartment would get so cold from the water it was hard to hold it in our hands! I chuckle to myself to the newbies coming to Media that think that Media is all it! They have no idea the charm that Media had back in the day!

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  9. I remember dad taking all six of us with water jugs to fill whenever our well would run dry. Those were the days, huh!

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  10. Filled my bong there often

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    1. So that was you. Have you cut your hair?

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  11. This place was great. It was before the health fitness craze hit. It was the best tasting water around. As Tedman said you may not know good tasting water but you sure as hell know sub par water when you taste it.

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  12. This has to be one of the best articles ever. Black Hawk spring was the best water ever. Great water for free. I bet that guy that built that house above the spring that closed it off is happy. Typical conservative do what is best for me and screw everyone else.

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  13. Unfortunately, this was too good to last. People came from far and wide, but there just wasn't enough room to handle them deep in the woods there. I can remember coming around the bend and suddenly seeing cars stopped right in front of you. It is a shame, but probbaly impossibl eto keep something like this going in teh middle of a county of a half million people.

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  14. I wish i had some Black Hawk spring water right now. My tap water sucks and my neighbor thinks his water is great (dumb ass). I only use distilled water for my coffee or tea. However, nothing beats good spring water. It is truly a shame that this treasure is gone.

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    1. I live on the property called "trail tree" where a tree with a bent branch once stood that pointed Okehawken people towar water (the spring) the water on my propert in unbelievable delicious, but part of home ownership around here means agreeing to hook up to city water. If you ask me, the spring shut down because people were getting something good for free. Natural clean spring water is part of the heritage of Deloware county. It was certainly the liability of folks possibly getting sick that ended the use of the spring. Not because it was contaminated (it is fed by an underground aquifer and there is no water from the house on the hill seeping up from the ground there. This water entered the underground waterways in New York or Canada). It was only fear of being sued that made people turn their backs on our heritage. There is one person at the FDA who regulates bottled water PART TIME. The local spring water is safer than all of the bottled spring water in America if someone checks it even as little as one a month. We should be talking about how the taps could be reopened with the proper legal precautions in place so that government bodies could feel safe and people could drink the water again. There is a huge difference between what comes out of my well and the neighbor's tap. Everyone should have water that tastes as fresh and clear as mine. There is no one on the other end of my pipe adding chlorine or fluoride or other chemicals, OR checking to see if my water is clean. That's my job. And that was the issue with the spring. There was fear that drinkers were not willing to take on the responsibility of their own choices especially when the black hawk water was so promoted. Big bottlers can afford to sicken many people before their business is effected. selling bottled water is a much safer bet for townships as far as liability goes. The truth is that our spring water is safer and comes from
      Our watershed. It's safer because it doesn't come in a plastic bottle that leaches carcinogens into the water itself (while the water is in the bottle) or back into the supply (during manufacturing). Environmentalists would love for the spring to be reopened for the simple fact that local people consuming local water means less pollution from shipping. And I know from personal expirience that "Figi Water" has got nothing on our water. It's what water should taste like! Fresh and cold from the ground, bekoning travelers from across the region! Sadly, we don't live in a free country any longer. We've given up the way of the trail tree. The time when the native people would bend the Branch to poin any passer by, friend or enemy, toward a place to drink is gone. Now we all state suspiciously at each other sipping from our plastic bottles wondering, "who is going to be the one to sue us!" If anyone has a solution id like to hear it, because that water belongs to our past and it's still there for us to drink if we are brave enough.

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    2. You're right Jeanette,and sorry to say, once the "gov't" makes a decision. It's final. (extremely difficult anyhow, to undo)
      We grew up in the area also and coincidentally have Lenni/Lenape blood runnin'in our veins. Used to cruise the backroads from Wallingford to the Park all the time in the late 70's It was a different time. As stoner/jocks we would run (jog) by or cruise muscle cars smokin' and drinkin' quarts of beer. Good times. Sad to see it. We were rowdies, and would probably dig a hole a bang a pipe in the ground if we lived there today. We deal with being restricted here also,but fresh water is not a problem in N.W. Montana. Thx. for caring

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  15. I went to that spring many times over the years, have lived in the area for most of my 65 years. Remember my father getting the spring water before he went to work as an ironworker every summer. was sorry to see it close.

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  16. What would it take to reopen it?

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    1. Decontamination Of the cesspools up the hill from the homes they built up above the spring!

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  17. Yes, what would it take?
    Good memories!

    KKOB

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  18. I've been away from the Media area for 48 years. This article is the first time I ever heard of the spring having a name. I used to stop there walking if I missed my bus at Penncrest in the afternoon and had to walk to Providence Road. The spring was looked at as half way home. Then moved to a motorcycle and always stopped there after school. Remember "parking" at the spring on many summer nights and stopping to sober up after too much beer with my buddies from school. Such good memories of the area.

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  19. Prior to the "Save The Black Hawk Spring" movement (I still have a patch stating this) We used to call it "Zig-Zag Springs" (60's to early 70's) due to the fact that the Zig-Zag cigarette papers logo was stenciled on various road signs in the area, which indicated to make a left turn, which would lead one to it's location. I actually worked with the plumbers who expanded the number of spigots to 5, when it was located on the original side.
    Just my opinion; I've always felt it was closed due to the total lack of respect by people coming there and cleaning out their cars, throwing trash on the ground, etc. I once witnessed a guy changing his oil and just letting it flow out on the ground.Maybe I should have left and found a pay phone and called the police, but it was much more enjoyable to put him in the hurt locker. His car got a little hurt in the process, too.
    It saddens me that the springs are no longer there. Particularly, because so much money was raised and spent to try and preserve such a wonderful natural resource. Just my 2 cents.

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