Part II - The Pool & Bath Houses
Part III - The First Floor Interior, A
Part IV - The First Floor Interior, B
Part V - The 2nd Floor Foyer, Hall, and Exterior
Part VI - The 2nd Floor Interior
Part VII - In search of the Tatham Spring
Part VIII - Epilogue, Tatham Springs: The Final Chapter
n Part III, I told of speaking with the property's owner Todd. What I didn't mention was that he told me he knew where the old spring was. As we were standing there by the pool, he pointed away from the back of the Hotel toward a line of trees. A large hay field lay between here and there in the "upper" river bottom. Closer to the river, there was a "lower" bottom which looked to have been planted with corn the last time it was utilized. Todd told me that he had gone exploring on the other side of the creek which was down by the tree-line. He said if I followed the lower bottom in a straight line from the pool, I would reach a "point". Directly on the other side of the creek from that point, he said, was a pipe sticking out of the ground. He had learned in his own inquiries about the property that the pipe was the old tap into the underground spring which provided the mineral water for the Hotel. He also said that he had been told that at one time there had been benches built around it which were presumably still there, buried beneath the mud from the river's flood seasons. He said he had been told that at one point, a huge gazebo had been built over the entire thing. He said that, right now, there wasn't any sort of access across it, but that in the future, as his excavation practices took him further that way he planned to try to uncover the spring area and see what was underneath all the mud.
Having exhausted my exploration of the Hotel later in the day, I decided to go in search of this pipe. It might not be very exciting, but I figured it would put a nice cap on my visit here - to see the place that was the actual draw for the Hotel. To see the thing which actually gave this community its name. I began walking the lower bottom toward the direction of the tree line. This is where you will discover just how not-to-scale my little diagram is, to which I will subject you once again later in this entry. The treeline which runs along the creek is probably a good 100 yards from the rear of the Hotel. From this distance, you can get a feel for just how big the Hotel really is.
To the far left you can see the pump-house. You can see one of the pool's rails near the center of the photo and one of the bath houses over toward the right. Of course, you can see all three wings of the Hotel from the rear, running toward the front which connects them all. I followed the lower bottom toward the creek, but I got distracted by something along the way.
There is a huge junk pile here on the rear of the property containing what I presume are objects which once resided inside the hotel. There are old bed springs, sub-flooring, carpet, and all sorts of lumber and scrap metal. While checking this out, my eye was drawn to something else: a cool little water fall in the creek bed.
Obviously it's not a very big waterfall, but it was rather serene as the water babbled over the limestone one its way to the river.
One thing was apparent though, crossing this creek was going to be a piece of cake with all those rocks. I secured the camera and scurried down the bank onto the rocks below. I had a nice view upstream from here.
I tip-toed over the rocks in the stream to the other bank. I took another photo of the mini-falls, and it turned out so well, I just had to share another picture of it from this angle.
I found a small ravine which cut up the embankment by the sycamore and followed it. There was some evidence of more scrap that likely came from the Hotel.
I waded through the dense vegetation, first into a field overgrown with weeds. I truned-back and crossed the ravine, following the lower bottom along this side of the creek. The upper bottom was above me and to the left. It was beginning to rain just a little, big plunks of water dropping into the stream to my right. The canopy of leaves provided by the old tree growth shielded me from the rain. It didn't last very long... maybe 5 minutes. I made my way to the upper bottom and was treated to this:
But still no signs of a pipe sticking out of the ground. I walked along the edge of the hay field I had found myself in and located the river bank where the creek flowed into it. The Chaplin River is not a very large river and therefore not very deep. In fact one could prbably wade across it without much effort. As a child, I can remember going to baptismal services along its banks in the summer-time.
Lying in the river were more forgotten remanants of humanity, which may or may not have been part of the old Hotel.
I walked back up toward the falls in the creek, doing a piecemeal search for the pipe to no avail. When I reached the falls, I crossed back over. Tired from my traipsing around in the dense vegetation, I decided to take a small break on the rocks here. As I was sitting there, smoking a cigarette and enjoying the scenery, I began to think more about what Todd had told me. He had said to follow the lower bottom almost to a "point"... and he mentioned that it was corssable any longer.
"It?" I had always assumed he meant the creek. As I began to consider the path I had taken I remembered I had become distracted by the old junk pile, and in turn, the water fall. I never finished following the lower bottom to its point. As I looked downstream, I noticed something.
A rather large array of rocks that doesn't look as if they were put there naturally. I finished my smoke and scrambled back up the bank. I walked down past the junk pile and completed following the lower bottom to its "point". Just below me, on the banks of the creek were the array of rocks. "It" was a man-made crossing that had been used to access the spring on the other side of the creek, I deduced. Now here's where I whip out the nifty diagram once again, to give you an idea of the layout of this area.
I made three X's showing you the location of the junk pile, the falls and the crossing. I made my way down the steep bank. On the other side of the creek was something else that confirmed my deductions.
Some sort of rock structure that was obviously not naturally occuring! So tired from my afore-mentioned traipsing about, I decided I was too lazy to walk back up to the falls, so I took off my shoes and socks, rolled up the pant legs and waded across the creek to the other side. I climbed up the bank onto the level part of the bottom and began searching in a more localized area. I figured this had to be the spot. It looked as if the area could have been a clearing at some point with larger trees encircling it. Younger ones were now growing here, but it's not hard to imagine it having been a nice grassy lawn a hundred years ago.
I began looking around in what felt like the "center" of this area. I found something here that was promising.
An old piece of lumber, all by itself. But no pipe. As I looked around further, I noticed a knoll which rose above the general level of the bottom, like somethign might have once been built upon it.
I climbed it and searched around as well. Still no pipe. I probably spent a good two hours scouring the other side of the bank for that damn pipe and never found it. Dejected, I waded back across the creek and headed back toward the building. There was only one other thing here to check out, the shelter which sits on the property here.
The above photo is the widest angle shot I have of the entire property. I took it as I was walking back and it was starting to get late, which is why it turned out as dark as it did. To the left you can see the hotel and to the far right you can see the shelter. The white building behind it is the old Tatham Springs general store. When I was a kid, all of the communities in the area had general stores. I lived right beside one in Cardwell, as a matter of fact. The store in Tatham Springs, as in Cardwell and Sharpsville, and all of the small communities out here closed years ago, though. Underneath the tree, you can see my car.
I would presume that the shelter post-dates the construction of the hotel by at least a half-century. I was probably built for the purposes of the 4-H camp. Having attended my fair share of summer camps, its not hard to imagine what purpose the shelter served: social functions such as line dancing, quiet evening vespers ceremonies, ping-pong and shuffleboard play.
Today it's filled with debris and random objects like a desk, hubcaps, and a stop sign.
I spent over five hours on the premises at Tatham Springs. It was by far one of the more interesting things I've done in a very long time, and it's been sitting in my backyard my entire life. I've been debating if I want to go back. It's not as if there is anything new I could see, except maybe for the spring-pipe. I may go back, if nothing else to track down Todd and get him to show me where that thing is. I can't decide if I'd be interested in being around when he decides to burn the thing, though. On the one hand, it'd be rather heart-breaking I think. On the other, it might be fitting, after my time spent there, if I captured its final moments.
For those of you who might want to keep a memory of this series, I am going to go back and edit all 7 parts so that there are links to the other entries in the series at the beginning of them, including the very first entry - that way, you can just make a bookmark or a Livejournal memory of the one page and have access to all the installments. If nothing else, I'm doing that for my purposes.
Also, I've made public an album containing all 250+ photos I took at Tatham Springs, in my photo gallery. These entries only respresent about half of the total photos. There are numerous alternate angles and what-not, if you'd like to check them out.