On a recent trip to Spring Gap Mountain, in the heart of Hampshire County, traveling with my daughter and my sister, I took the opportunity to visit one of my favorite childhood spots, the spring on top of Spring Gap Mountain.
I was so very disappointed with what I found upon my arrival there.
A bit of my personal history: I was born and raised on Spring Gap Mountain, living there for the first 18 years of my life (from 1933 until1951) and returning on a regular basis to visit my parents and other family and friends who continue(d) to live on the mountain. So, Spring Gap is a very, very special place to me, and I have owned property there for most of my life.
I have so many memories of many places across that mountain; but one of my favorites is the many times I walked up and over the mountain with my grandfather, Anthony Bohrer, as we moved the cattle from one side of the mountain to the other.
Each time we walked past the spring at the top of the mountain, Grandpa and I would use the old tin cup that hung on a nearby tree to enjoy a drink of the fresh cool water coming from this spring. Feeling refreshed from our drink, we would continue our journey to move the herd of cattle.
As an amateur history buff, I began studying some of the history of Hampshire County and was amazed to discover the history attached to this spring and the surrounding area.
George Washington wrote in his journals about discovering this spring on his initial journeies of surveying the wilderness from Alexandria, Va., to Fort Necessity between 1748 and 1753. General Braddock also wrote in his journals about using this spring on his campaign to fight the French at Fort Duquesne in 1755. I’m very sure General Braddock was made aware of this spring by Col. George Washington, his aide de camp on this trip, due to Col. Washington’s being aware of it from his previous treks through this mountainous region as a civilian surveyor and as a major in the Virginia Militia.
Fresh water was of such importance while exploring or marching thru the wilderness, that all travelers would follow a trail where it was known fresh water was available. In fact, Sir John St. Clair, the deputy quartermaster of the British Army, makes note of this spring numerous times in his writings from 1753 to 1755.
What disappointed me and was so distressing to me upon my arrival at this spring on top of Spring Gap Mountain (the very spring that the mountain is named after), was that if you had not known a spring was ever there; you would not have been able to find it. The area is so overgrown and covered with debris that there is no longer water rising to the surface.
I could tell the spring continues to have water flow as I walked down the small creek bed that falls out of the old spring and about 35 feet down, the creek bed had water running.
If the roadways in West Virginia have the normal right-of-way attached to them, this spring is actually located on the roadway right-of-way, being within 5 feet of the edge of Anthony Bohrer Road.
This would make the maintenance of this spring the responsibility of the county or the state. The importance of this spring in the founding and settling of the wilderness that is now known as Hampshire County, West Virginia, makes it of historical significance. Yet there are no markers to inform travelers or to recognize the key role this spring played in the settling of this area.
I find this just amazing that such a historically significant site located in the heart of Hampshire County is not recognized in any way.
I can only hope that county officials or the local residents will learn and understand the significance of this spring and consider clearing the spring, so water again rises to the surface and is available to the weary travelers who cross this mountain. The addition of some type of historical marker and perhaps a lovely bench to sit and enjoy this beautiful site would only increase my joy.
Alvin Nelson now lives in Chambersburg, Pa. o