Friday, May 16, 2014

What's on Tap? - Cool Clear Water

by Debie Oeser Cox

A source for clean drinking water is vitally important to all of us.  The ease with which most can find it is usually taken for granted.  We walk into the kitchen, turn the faucet and water comes pouring out.  We open the refrigerator and take out a cold bottle of water that we purchased at a store. 
Recently a friend posted an ad on facebook for Pioneer Springs, an East Nashville Company that sold spring water to Nashvillians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.   

Nashville City Directory - 1918

Wanting to learn more I began to research the subject of bottled water in Nashville.    It was discovered that a number of companies were providing bottled water for area citizens and a surprise to learn that bottled water was sold in Nashville more than a hundred years ago.  

Nashville City Directory - 1905

The early settlers decided to call this place home, in part because of the abundance of water.  The first fort erected at Nashborough, the Bluff Station, was located on a high bank of the Cumberland river, near the beginning of Church Street, because of a large spring, called the Bluff Spring, at that spot.  Church Street was originally called Spring Street.  As these pioneers spread out to lay claim to tracts of land on which to live, finding a spring on property of interest was a priority.  It was not much of a challenge.  Davidson County was covered with springs, both large and small.  Many are still known today and some become very evident after a large rainfall.  

Some early springs were known by the name of the landowner such as, Cockrill, Rains, Larkin and McNairy's Springs.   

Nashville City Directory - 1905

Others were named because of special features or acquired nicknames; Spout Spring, Deep Cave, Lockeland and Pioneer Springs.  McNairy's Spring came to be known as Judge's Spring as the owner was a federal judge.   

Nashville City Directory - 1907

There many springs and wells that provided water, Buena Vista, White's Creek Spring, Crocker Spring, Spencer's Spring, Fountain Blue, Luckhole Spring, and Priestly Spring area few.  A complete list would be very long. 

State Board of Health Bulletin:Tennessee - 1889

Advertisements from newspapers and other published sources show that bottled water was sold in Nashville in the middle 1800's, often in drugstores.  Some was shipped in and Saratoga Spring water seems to have been a popular seller.  Flavored mineral water was offered for sale on special occasions and holidays.

Nashville American, June 4, 1870

In the densely populated areas near downtown Nashville, outhouses were still in use.  Ground water from springs and streams, had long been polluted.  At times the quality of water provided to Nashvillians by the city water works was questionable. Across the river, East Nashville was a growing community without a city water supply. The suburban neighborhoods of Maplewood, Rosebank, and Inglewood were being developed and local community springs and backyard wells were often contaminated.  Lockeland Springs and Pioneer Springs are two companies that offered a safe, clean alternative for those who could afford it. East Nashville had more companies advertising bottled water for sale than other areas of town. 

Nashville Patriot, July 16, 1860

A 1909 report listed these springs as operating in Davidson Counte.
         1.     Buena Vista.
         2.     Burns Epsom Lithia
         3.     Deep Cave
         4.     Laconia
         5.     Lockeland (old)
         6.     Richardson's Lockeland 
         7.     Pioneer
         8.     Sulphur (old)
         9.     Thompson's

Buena Vista Springs was located in the community which carries that name today. It was a surprise to see two Lockeland Springs listed, one designated as old and the other belonging to W. E. Richardson.  Pioneer Spring was along Riverside Drive near Rosebank.  Deep Cave Spring was somewhere in the vicinity of Petway and Gallatin Road. The Sulphur Spring was near Jefferson Street and 4th Avenue North.  Thompson's Spring was on Stones River Road, now Elm Hill Pike.

Nashville City Directory - 1915

Some Historical Springs in Davidson County;

French Lick Spring (near Jackson Street and Fourth)

Bluff Spring (Bluff of Cumberland River, south of Nashville Public Square near Church Street at 1st Avenue North. Popularly called Fort Nashboro in the 20th century.)

Spout Spring (Eastland Avenue, south side, near Chapel Avenue.)

Whites Creek Spring (northern Davidson County.)

Rains Spring (near the intersection of Nolensville Road and Rains Avenue.)

Judge Mcnairy's Spring (near Jackson Street and Seventh Avenue North.)

Wilson's Spring (near the new Nashville Convention Center, between Shirley and Peabody Streets.)

Cockrill Springs (at Centennial Park, West End.)

Spencer Spring at Haysborough  (near Spring Hill Cemetery, Madison, Davidson County.)

Priestly Spring  (near Two Rivers Golf Course and Briley Parkway.)

Fountain Blue  (Near 908 Meridian Street.)

Luckhole Spring (Near Ellington Parkway and Cleveland Street.)

[Read more about Lockeland Spring]

Chronicles of the Cumberland Settlers, Paul Clements, self published, 2012.
State Board of Health Bulletin: Tennessee, 1889.
Mineral Resources of the United States, published by the United States Government, Department of the Interior, 1922
Chronicling America, Library of Congress -
Nashville City Directories –