Cold Spring


At Cold Spring

Lamp Post At Upper Dummerston Road

Pagoda, Linden Lodge

The first known description of the Cold Spring was written as a Journal entry for Tuesday, September 20, 1796, by a traveller called Thomas Chapman, Esq. of Elizabethtown. He was stopping by with the owner, the Rev. William Wells---

The Farm is every where well Watered with excellent Springs of Soft Water, and his House & Farm yard supplied from Springs Adjacent wch is conducted under ground in Wooden Tubes, in the Kitchen is a Wooden Cistern where the Water is coming in run out all the year, and so it does into a Wooden trough in the Farm Yard. This is a convenience I never saw before in the United States, but wch is, I understand, very Common in the State of Vermont, where I now am for the Divisional line, between this & Massachuset State, runs 10 Miles to the Westwd of Brattleborough. I remained at Mr. Wells the remainder of this and the following Day; was treated with great Hospitality and kindness both by him and Mrs. Wells.


Samuel Wells House 1773

Rev. William Wells Farm 1794

Burnside Military School 1860

The farmhouse was first built in 1773 by Col. Samuel Wells, and following William, Ebenezer Wells sold the residence to Col. Charles A. Miles for the Burnside Military School. The cold, clear water was perfect for---


Federal Galaxy, January 13, 1797

The cadets and officers of the Burnside Military School made lasting improvements upon the Cold Spring environs, thus sideways favoring the leisurely class---as described in this correspondence for the Vermont Phoenix, composed by one who subscribes himself with the simple appellation X---

Cold Spring.

Fons dulcis aquai -- Lucretius.

Let not the reader be deceived. No chill foreboding that an inclement vernal season is at hand, is about to be thrown in the face of anybody's bright hopes to the contrary. I prognosticate nothing wherefore the sugar-man should not bore his trees expecting them to shed very freely their sweet tears of joy because the stiff grasp of winter is relaxing; or wherefore the wood-man should not hasten with his sledging, apprehensive of an early departure of the snow. The Cold Spring I speak of lasts all the year round, and bestows its chief blessing during the summer's heat. It is not a season of the year, but a cool spot in Brattleboro.

Would you know a pleasant terminus of a comfortable stroll from the village, just long enough for a summer twilight? Go to Cold Spring. Are there times of heat when you would repair to a seat in a spot of delightful shade, and would quaff the sweetest of cool, spring water? I commend you to Cold Spring. Or, do you desire a quiet nook by the wayside where you may sit with another by moonlight under a grand canopy of graceful branches? Let Cold Spring be the place. But let the hour be late, or you may find the blue uniforms preoccupying the coveted seat.

Close to the bank, at the roots of a stately butternut tree, appears the slowly changing water of Cold Spring, which seems to have leaked out from the tree itself. For the water does indeed trickle down from the trunk and roots of the tree, having followed out into daylight the course of the roots, which spread far upward into the hillock. If you make diligent search you may find a cup to drink from. It is likely to be on the bank behind the tree. Otherwise you will have to scoop up the water with your hand, or put your lips to the spring itself. If you can find a dry basis for your knees, you will enjoy a sweeter and more natural draught by the sprawling method---the best method when you are much heated; for the peculiar sensation of feeling the water run up hill diverts you from drinking too much. On the whole, covet not the drinking-cup. In this spot nature is your hostess. Partake in the style she suggests from the dishes she sets before you.

"Pocula sunt fontes liquidi."

At her entertainment stickle not for the proprieties of art. What more fitting propriety than to bend the knee to the purity of Cold Spring, and salute it with your lips? You'll get a sweet return for the compliment.

But here, as everywhere, nature's own excellence is tampered with, or masked beyond recognition by the sacrilegious hand of art, which, in this case, in the hands of the nice boys in blue, often substitutes for th native sweetness of the water the artificial sweetness of lemon syrup. As becomingly might you paint with rouge the blooming cheek of beauty. To me, a lover of unadulterated nature, the Cold Spring water unsweetened is sweetened the best. But

"Go out, nature, and go in, lemons!"

says Young America. And so the waters of Cold Spring become tributary to the money-drawer of Clark & Willard, druggists and apothecaries. See advertisement. Yet not Cold Spring itself is more refreshing to a thirsty man, than is the sight to a care-laden man of the boyish hilarity amidst the bottles and tin-cups, the mixing and the hearty pouring down of the jolly compound. Your countenance loses all the darkest of its clouds at the sight, but it breaks out into broad sunlight at the irresistable invitation, "Won't you have a drink, sir? It's bully!"

Your poetic prejudice against against desecrating nature with lemon syrup is altogether upset, and you discover that you are only a one-sided worshipper of nature, if you neglect to enloy nature in boys, and to recognize the truth that to appropriate any charms of inanimate nature to enhancing the loveliness of human nature, is to consecrate those charms and not to desecrate them.


Let us now approach the seat by the fence. Of course the inevitable initials are there, carved by divers aspirants for literary distinction. In places of public resort egotism crops out wherever it can on all wooden things. Even the cedars of Lebanon are not exempt from the infliction of Yankee inscriptions, and the north pole itself, as soon as found, may expect a like treatment. Even the hub of the universe would scarcely be spared (I refer to the Acropolis of Modern Athens,) were not a book kept there for visitors to register their names. Hotel keepers long ago found the necessity of a similar provision. Well, I suppose those who are not likely to make their mark in any other way may well enough begin and end their literary career with the knife-blade.

But enough of this. We came out to smile at nature, not to scowl on art. We will leave the criticism of human foibles to the village we have left behind us, and will suffer nature here to bestow its inspiration of peace, charity, good-will and cheerfulness.

"All these are spirits of air, and woods, and springs."

We will sit on the seat and look the other way. Looking down through the network of a tasteful fence, unless rains have been withheld of late, we discover a little rill quietly gliding among swamp-weeds and stones, about to pass under the highway through a tunnel, which certain of our neighbors in the village will perhaps remember that they themselves used to crawl through in the days of their boyhood and girlhood. Our eyes will trace the stream upward. There, just above Cold Spring, you see it slipping over the sloping rock and sparkling out into whiteness as it tumbles down. A little farther up in the winding gorge through which the brook comes down, you may see its course obstructed by a dam of faithful and creditable workmanship, engineered, as I understand, by scientific cadets of the military school close by which is, if I may use the words of an ancient poet,

"Insignis fama et felicibus armis."

It would be pleasant to follow the stream up to its source, and notice many of the occasions of contemplation which the everywhere suggestive streamlet would offer. But it is enough at this time to adhere to "the gentle neighborhood of wood and spring." Imagine how lovely it is to sit here when the balmy air is glorified by an August moonlight. You know whom to bring with you. The charm will not be all moonshine. Look forward, and there on the opposite bank are the noble trees. Look aloft, and there the trees stretch their arms over you in benediction. The stars blink at you through the intertwining of leafy branches which embroider the sky, and your ear is soothed by the rill whispering to the rock at your left, and the louder brawling of Weld's cascade in the neighboring river. If, then, a representative of Eve be at your side,

"Not that sweet grove
Of Daphne by Orontes, and the inspired
Castalian spring, might with this Paradise
Of Eden strive."

I am aware that a beautiful seat behind a church in our village stands a magnificent and popular rival of the seat at Cold Spring for the purpose now under consideration; so that just ourside the church walls hopeful couples are started, aided and abetted in that course of things which eventually receives its consummation within those self-same walls, at one of those ceremonies in which two well-meaning individuals become agitated into one. But an objection to the Episcopal seat is this---that many, after passing an hour of pleasant companionship thereon, have felt justified in replying to inquiring mothers, that they have been "to church;"---a species of fib which deserves this exposure, and for which the seat at Cold Spring will afford no pretext.

And now, Cold Spring, I must leave thee. Thou wilt not be alone. A big white dog, tail-brandishing Blanco, is prowling round with panting breath, ready to pay his respects to thee as soon as I shall have finished my farewell drink. Hereafter, then, I shall consent for Cold Spring to be set in framework for the exclusive potations of my own species.


Vermont Phoenix, March 24, 1865.

The correspondent "X" may be the Brattleboro resident and descendant James Henry Elliot, who later wrote extensive articles with local interest and news under the name "Tellio". For this nom de plume, Elliot moved the final letter in his name to its front. His deliberately one step over-the-top style is distinctive, and was found to be amusing.


Prospect Point Above Cold Spring

View Toward Connecticut River



Before 1882


Cold Spring, 1905

Upper Dummerston Road, West River Road, 1905, Cold Spring Pump House.jpg

Upper Dummerston Road, West River Road In 1905

Cold Spring Pump House




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