“Where are we going?”

“The basement of National Audio…or crawlspace, or something.”

“Will we need boots?”

“I don’t know, maybe. It is muddy I think.”

“Ok.”

And off we were to see the fabled spring upon which our fair city was founded; the spring I had told many people about on our Jordan Creek tours; the spring that I was not sure still existed or flowed. The WCO crew headed out of our downtown office up the street, Mike, Stacey and myself along with Nicole, our all-star education/organization/representation specialist and Evan, our newest intern delving to new depths within the historical records of our city’s water. Evan had set up the little expedition, but had an unsettling lack of details regarding equipment we would need, exact location, and the amount of time we would be under. I suppose that’s what makes a good historical expedition though, take the opportunities as they come and don’t ruin it with too many questions.

The WCO crew with our wonderful host

We were greeted by a very friendly host who showed us through the office into a room with a door and some stairs. We descended the steps into a dark corridor and take in our surroundings. To the left is a doorway into a larger room and then another set of stairs, this time ascending. In front of us is a concrete wall with pipes and cables running its upper border. The wall continues on our right and looks much the same, save two distinct features: a ladder and a small hole eight feet off the ground. Evan and Mike go first, followed by the rest of us. We climb the ladder, shimmy through the hole and embark on the hundred yard duck walk under more pipes and cables. I notice that our host does not follow us. Usually not a good thing. The floor is muddy, and massive columns mark the strongholds of the building’s foundation. We travel under and around all of it to the end of the building where we see a great mud pit with a corrugated steel elbow culvert rising out of the floor and through the wall. The opening faces towards us and we peer into the strange artifact.

Evan being a real-live historian

The opening acts as a portal, transporting us from wires, pipes, concrete and steel into a vision of a natural spring; one that is narrow, rocky, clear and deep. I imagine with excitement seeing such a spring as an explorer charting territories unsettled by homesteaders. I pretend for a moment that I am a construction worker building the great brick structure that sits over the spring and Jordan Creek, careful to protect the spring and anxious about how the foundation will fare with an abundance of freshwater flowing through it. What a piece of history! Suddenly, I am whipped back into reality as my group begins to leave. Our host, it seems, is using his break to show us around and we hate to keep him waiting longer than he has already. We hurriedly squat/run/lunge back to the shimmy hole, down the ladder, up the stairs, and into the daylight, looking at Founders Park, the cornerstone that denotes the location of the spring, and the memorial manhole cover that marks the same feature. We thank our gracious host and make our way back to the building, all amazed and dreaming of what we have seen. How deep is it really? Wouldn’t it be great to send a light down as far as it goes to see the rocks and waters flowing?

Our city is full of these hidden treasures, springs, creeks, caves, sinkholes, battlefields, artifacts, food trucks, musicians, and artists. I think it is such a great place to live, knowing that there is always something to discover and an urban legend to investigate. While some of the hidden mysteries are more fiction that history, many of the invisible features are real indeed. We impact our streams and springs daily. The storm drains along the streets lead to our secret streams, like Jordan Creek, and carry rainwater and anything else that lands on the street. Perhaps we’d all treat our water a little better if we spent some time daydreaming of clear waters flowing right beneath us, and springs hidden in basements. Water is a treasure and yesterday we got to be Indiana Jones for the afternoon. Thanks to Evan, National Audio Company, and all of those who came before us who chose to protect this natural feature rather than fill it in or destroy it. Thanks for reading

The Historic Spring

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