Somewhere in Time (and Space)
A Beautiful Dammed Place
Boiling Springs is a quaint little village in South Middletown Township in a setting adjacent a dammed-up natural spring in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. It can be reached from either: Interstate 81 -- when one exits southward on state highway 94 until it intersects with state road 174 where this trout fishing 'mecca' is located to the northeast; or one can go north on -- US 15 until reaching state road 74, then a westward turn on 174 will get one in this antique town that makes one feel they have been transported back in time (or at least to New England).
The settlement began to thrive in the 1750's when the seven acre lake, now called "The Childrens' Lake," was built for powering iron works. This beautiful body of water was formed by blocking the brook fed from 30 natural springs. This stream of clear water literally bubbles like boiling water to the surface (hence the name)-- from caverns that are guessed to be almost 2000 feet below the surface!
The 53 degree water is constantly refreshed by 22 million gallons circulating in its non-stop opened tap. When one walks around the wide path surrounding this phenomenon, one also notices the natural air-conditioning effect -- even on the hottest summer day!
Many historic buildings and other relics are all in short walking distance of each other in part of which is known as the 19th century Historic District . Unfortunately one can no longer take the 5 cent trolley ride that once was available, running every 30 minutes, in 1895 -- when the Valley Traction laid a line from Carlisle. However, the Appalachian Trail was moved through this location in 1991, and on 4 E. First Street a lakeside cottage and previous restaurant and novelty store is an Appalachian Trail Conference building. The Boiling Springs Tavern can still be be enjoyed, as this Federal style native limestone building that Phillip Breechbill put here as a hotel in 1832 (originally owned by Anheuser-Busch) is open for good unique dining and enjoying spirits (Tuesday - Saturday 11:30 AM -- 2 PM, 5 PM -- 9:30 PM) as its popularity speaks for itself. The Municipal Park and Bubble is located just behind the Tavern where one can see one of the major springs enveloped by the stone walls of the Park.
Are you itching to fish? Well, the Yellow Breeches Outfitters are there on 2 E. First Street, although the weathered one-story was orginally a 1900 dance pavillion for the trolley park. The recreational popularity for the area started in 1895 where families picnicked by the lake, enjoying the amusements until 1930. Of course, to some degree this continues. A litte further over down to W. First Street examine on 207 W. First the Dr. May's House (1876) and on 208, Dr. Mower's House (1850)
One of the oldest edifaces that can be visited is the restored Iron Furnace, a blast furnace that was built around 1760 on the lake and the Yellow Breeches Creek by the Carlisle Iron works. This marked the beginning of industrial growth in the Cumberland Valley (an area that basically is where I-81 goes through from Harrisburg, PAto Winchester, VA. This furnace made stove plates, firebacks, munitions, and other ironware. One can enjoy the municipal park at this site as well. Nearby is the Iron Works Stables, a limestone structure that was home for the horses for the iron works in 1827, and now is an apartment building.
Another existing historical place is the four and a half story New England style Grist Mill with tin gambrel roof. It had to undergo massive rehabilitation through the years, especially after the fire of 1896. The lower two levels constructed with native limestone and quoined with red sandtone was built by Michael Ege in around 1784: it provided grain and flour for the iron works community.
The Boiling Springs Bridge, also known as the Stone Arch Bridge, or Ege's Bridge one is sure to cross in their walking tour, and we can marvel at the bargain -- it was made in 1854 for just less than 3000 dollars.
If the visitor can stay around long enough to change into a swim suit, they can enjoy the first public swimming pool in Cumberland County. The pool building by the Katherine Furnace complex was made in 1882, but the swimming facility was finished in 1927 by Gilbert Malcom (whose wife was the prominent Helen Bucher).
The Ege-Bucher Mansion can not be missed, as this modified Georgian sixteen room residence built for the ironmaster, Michael Ege around 1780 sits prominently above the lake on its terraced landscaping. The Bucher family that lived here improved the two and a half story "Highland Terrace with a columned pedimented portico in 1930. The interior boasts fine aesthetic woodwork, especially in the architecural details of the three story staircase, and fireplace mantles crafted to the ceiling.
Another house worth checking out while enjoying the charming ambience, is the Daniel Kaufman House on 301 Front Street. This two and a half story Federal Style building with Italianate detailing was built in the early 1880's for this man, Mr. Kaufman who layed out the village in 1845. As an abolishionist, he was one of three who managed the Boiling Springs Underground Railroad and the runaway slaves they helped were hidden at a location a half a mile away south of the Yellow Breeches in Island Grove.
One of the only Queen Anne styled houses in the area is the Dr. J.H. Houch House built at the end of the 1870's for the physician that practiced here almost to the end of the 19th century, Doctor J.H. Houch. This Victorian on 219 Front Street features the distintive third story half-turret with balconet and a conical roof. Right next door at 217 Front Street is the brick Second Empire style house of fourteen rooms built in 1870 for Reuben Webbert. It is called the Ahl House for Daughter Ida Webbert Ahl who lived here 53 years. The two and a half story is notable for the double front door with recessed arches and the slate mansard roof.
More decorative features on homes can be witnessed at the Doctor Peters House on 105 Front Street. Doctor Milton Peters was an established physician who had this modified Eastern Stick styled place built in around the turn of the 20th century. Go a few buildings down on 101 Front Street and one can see the Leidich's Store built by Kaufman's surveyor, Adam M. Leidich. This business, built on lot number one -- the first sold in the village, evolved from general store to drugstore and Post Office. Down the street one can see the Anna Brechbill's House (1848), Brandt House (1875), Brindle's General Store (1855) and the Richwine House (1861). Fletcher's Store from 1876 can be seen on Third Street as well as Squire Lehman's (1890) and J.C. Lehman's House (1875). A walk over to 112 Fourth Street will reward you with The Filler House from 1880.
A much more modern curiosity, yet still historic, is the native limestone Clocktower constructed in 1957, dedicated on July Fourth of that year to the fallen victims of Foreign Wars. Another memorial dedicated on Memorial Day, 1985 was to the Korean and Vietnam veterans, remembrance by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The Grange Hall on 107 High Street was organized #1833 in 1920, and this building that became a center for concerts, dinners, concerts, lectures and plays was used from 1924 until 1947. On 109 Third street the O.U.A.M. Hall still stands from 1907.
The small community has a couple of historic churches as well. The brick Federal styled Church of the Brethren erected in 1875 now houses the arts and crafts studio and gallery, "The Village Artisans." Built a year later was the Fourth Street United Methodist Church. The cozy common-bond brick, gabled bell steeple and roofed place of worship has been continuing so since. One should notice the architectural features with its wheel window, pierced-work vergeboarded entry gable and the pedimented end gable.
One must come and witness first hand the picturesque nostalgia for themselves in this location put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
--Personal experience -- considered a place worthwhile for re-visits.
(There is a Roaring Springs, PA, too)