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Drought conditions cause town's spring to go dry

February 11, 2002

Drought conditions cause town's spring to go dry



By MARLO BARNHART
marlob@herald-mail.com


CLEAR SPRING - It's official ... the spring from which Clear Spring derived its name back in 1821 has gone dry for the first time since at least the 1930s and perhaps much longer.

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"I'm 82 and have lived here all my life ... I've never seen the town spring dry before," Stewart Brennan said.

Just after Christmas, Brennan noticed that the concrete catch basin enclosing the spring had no water in it.

"It was damp but there was no water coming into the basin," he said.

A former Clear Spring Town Council member, Brennan spends a great deal of his time and energy each day tending to the welfare and interests of the town. When he saw that the spring was dry, he became concerned.

"In years past, that spring has always had water in it," Brennan said. "Whether we had rain or not, it stayed the same."

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Bill Lempert of the Maryland Department of the Environment said the current drought conditions in the area have taken their toll.

"I'm seeing several streams in Frederick County that always run in the winter and now they are dry," Lempert said.

Phyllis Younker has lived in her home on the south side of Cumberland Street for 40 years. With the town spring literally in her back yard, she too has kept her eye on the town's namesake.

"I was wondering where it had gone," Younker said as she stood in her yard looking down at the dry basin. "It's never been dry in my 40 years here."

The small stream emanating from the spring still has some water in it. But as Younker pointed out, the stone wall sides show clear marks where the water has risen in the past, several feet above where the trickle now meanders.

Brennan said he recalls when the spring was condemned in the 1930s after it tested as contaminated. But in the 1960s, the spring was tested again and Brennan said it was 98 percent pure then.

"It restored itself then," Brennan said. "Hopefully the spring will come back too."

On the other side of Cumberland Street, the town run still has water in it even though drought conditions are still affecting deeper water sources that feed springs.

"When it rains, the run comes up fast," said Brennan whose back yard on the north side of Cumberland Street is crossed by the run.

First known as Myersville after founder Martin Myers, the town of Clear Spring was laid out in 1821 and incorporated in 1836.

The town literally grew up around the spring, which is located on the south side of Cumberland Street, marked with a plaque and adorned with benches, potted trees and other decorative embellishments provided by the Clear Spring Garden Club.

Brennan said the town spring is still a nice place to visit, to sit and enjoy the solitude - just don't expect to see any water.

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