CHIPPEWA VALLEY, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – After nearly 100 years out of service, a landmark that was important to the development of the Chippewa Valley is back to its former glory. First News at Nine’s Denton Postlewait shares why a historic source of water, and the stories behind it, led one local man to restore it.
If you’ve driven south of Eau Claire on Highway 37, you might not have noticed an old building on the left side of the road.
It was all overgrown and degraded. However, to Doug Carlson, that old building turned out to be a glimpse into the history of the Chippewa Valley over 100 years ago.
Landowner, Doug Carlson said, “About six or eight years ago, Mary, who is the historian and genealogist in the family, started digging into it. It didn’t take her very long, she discovered there was not only a history but a rich history to the 1870s.”
After a little more digging, Doug and his wife Mary discovered what was known as Beckey Spring, a source of water for timber crews, farmers, and families until about 1960.
“A man by the name of Joseph Beckey, who was a timber cruiser in the area, he found this spring, just water coming out of the ground long before this building was here. Other people started getting water and they started calling it Beckey Spring. People would come from all around to get the water,” said Carlson.
In 1923, Eau Claire County decided to make Beckey Spring safer for people to access by putting up the concrete structure that still stands today.
Carlson said, “A couple of years ago, I thought, ‘I wonder if I could restore the building and grounds to what it looked like back in 1935-1936.”
After learning more about the history of Beckey Spring, Doug, with the help of some neighbors, began the process of cleaning up the spring.
“It’s really been a community project. Neighbors helped, an excavator down the road here came and dug away 100 years of dirt to reveal the rest of it. We hauled away 15 loads of brush,” said Carlson.
Two years and nearly two thousand dollars later, Beckey Spring has been restored to its former glory.
While the water isn’t safe for human consumption, Carlson says he is proud of being able to give people look at something that was a part of Chippewa Valley all those years ago.
Carlson said, “It was a landmark. It was an important part of the development of the Chippewa Valley, for all the people, the loggers, and the families. It was an important landmark. That’s why it made sense to restore it.”