Kissengen Spring




PAGE 4 TRIBUTE: THOMAS E. JACKSON &2011 Spring Pictures




There is a video of Kissengen spring playing at the

Polk County Historical Museum. What you see is a painting by Robert Butler.

Painting by Ron Drake




Aquifer Data Graph


Ron, attached is a current well data graph (per SWFWMD data sources) that shows

how the aquifer at Kissengen continues to recover. Owing to ample

rainfall of the previous years, and the additional benefits of the Lake Hancock

restoration project, the important aquifer level of 83.55' msl may

be attained this coming year. The 83' msl elevation is that at which

the spring should flow (per USGS report data).

This long-term aquifer recovery began in 1974 with the implementation of conservation efforts by the

phosphate industry in response to the requirements of the 1972 Water Resources Act.

The recovery has been boosted by increased rainfall,

conservation practices, and the enhancement of local recharge by the increased

storage of water in Lake Hancock.

As you look at the graph of levels from 2007 through 2016, note the positive

trend. The spring is close to regaining the groundwater levels necessary to

support outflow. If the river levels drop below 83' msl, while the aquifer

remains ABOVE 83' msl, the aquifer can discharge visibly from the

spring. We'll watch closely this fall.

Best, Charles




A sink hole known as Gator Sink. Water is pouring into the lower karst channels.

This is my model of an aquifer with 2 wells.

My wife is using a suction bulb on the left well to draw up water.


These pictures are from Suzanne Cray Zisselsberger. Thanks for sharing.


These pictures of my parents, Clarence "Marvin" Bruce and Elizabeth Brogdon,

were taken at Kissengen Spring between 1948-49 {THANKS Cathy Bruce}

A group in the 1930's swimming in the spring. Picture is from Florida Archives. Note the diving platform and style of bathing suits.


A group in the 1900's swimming in the spring. Picture is from Florida Archives. Some in bathing suits and some not. Note the tees at this time.


Charles Cook Report for Polk State College class visit to Peace River sites March 2014


Charles Cook Report for Lisa Reiner, Environmental Class visit to Kissengen Spring. A must read report!!! Fall 2013


Charles Cook Report for Polk State Geology Class 12 Oct. 2013 Peace River Sink Investigations. Prof. Whitcomb


Charles Cook Report for Polk State Earth Science Class Field Trip. Prof. Kish


Script from Remembering Kissengen Spring

==September 17, 2012 Lake Hancock Project Update==

The water table in the Peace River must rise and water must flow all year to promote recharge of the aquifer.

The caverns under the Peace River must be filled with millions of gallons of water in order to create the spring pressure to make it flow.

The increased discharge of water from Lake Hancock will have an impact all along the Peace River to Charlotte Harbor.

When you read this article, be sure to click the headings on the right side of the page.

Click To Read Lake Hancock Project Update

<------------October 2014 Visitors to Kissengen Spring----------->

Hi Ron,

Hope you doing well. Just wanted to let you know that a nice couple took time

to visit Kissengen Spring with me last Friday. The spring is full of

surface water as it has been all of this year. The aquifers are very

full now too, so I’ll be watching the spring closely for flows if the

surface waters fall soon.

I told Fred and Sharon Allen about your Kissengen Spring website project, and

they were pleased to learn of it. I’ve attached a photo of them at the

spring, which they said could be added to your website. From Charles Cook


Painting by Robert Butler

Memory from Alice. My Aunt Martha, who lives in Winter Haven, sent me her memories of Kissengen Springs. I've included them below:

"My most vivid memory of going to Kissengen, was with Mother and the Methodist Church family picnic when I was about 10 years old. I got my basket from the man that was in the snack shop. I took it into a small changing room, put my clothes in the basket and took it back to him to keep on a shelf. Then I went out on the wide dock to the end where one could dive right into the 'boil'. That was wonderful!!

It was cold and the pressure of the water boiling up from below shoved you out to one side. There you had to swim back over to the small beach area, where your feet could touch the sand. When I was tired of swimming around, I got out of the water, and walked around the spring to see the little bridge where the water ran out into a creek There was a tower for doing high-dives, but I was afraid to dive from that height.

At that particular time, there was a large Alligator turtle on the shore. He had an enormous parrot-like snout, which would surely have snapped off a finger for sure! And we also went over by the Springs into an area where there was another pipe about 6" across with more cold, clear water pouring up and out into another small run-off. They called that an artesian well.

Of course we had a delicious picnic supper that all the ladies had brought. Then we were cold and had to get our clothes from the man, and go into get changed.

I think I went back once as a teen-ager, but it was not nearly so much fun... Just lying on the sandy area and not swimming around very much."

A trip into the Ginnie Springs in Northern Florida. Note the extreme clarity of the water!

==Hope For Kissengen Spring Return==

Kissengen Spring could flow again with some help.

In the past, it was a place where many people came

to picnic, swim, have parties, get married, dance at the pavillion, rowboat and enjoy the mineral waters to help with ailments.

The spring was a place of natural enjoyment until it dried up in 1950.

Hundreds of wells drilled into the Floridan Aquifer caused the demise of the spring.

The spring was located near the northern end of Peace River as seen on the Florida map.

Picture Donated By IVAN RICHARDSON

Picture of Bill Hosmer and "Buckshot" Lowery. The diving helmet allowed the

strong at heart to go down in the spring as far as they dared.

Air was pumped into the helmet by a hand powered pump.

Note the spillway in the background with a bridge over it.

Boards in the spillway were raised and lowered to change the depth of the pool.

==Friends of Kissengen==

We are looking for "Friends of Kissengen"

Please post your comments in our Friends of Kissengen guestbook.

Free Guestbook
My Guestbook Leave A Message



==How Will We Know If The Spring Is Getting Closer To Recovery?==

Kissengen Spring is located on State Lands, within the Upper Peace River 100 year floodplain.

The site was never mined, but the surrounding terrain was disturbed by mining and reclamation in the late 1950s and early 60s.

The spring was the first major spring to cease flowing due to the capture of groundwater for human uses, in 1950.

The spring can only flow when the potentiometric level reaches 83.55’ msl in the Upper Floridan Aquifer beneath the Upper Peace River.

The aquifer has steadily recovered since reaching the lowest ever level of 20’ msl, in 1974.

It has reached average levels of 60’ msl since then, due to tremendous conservation efforts, and the hope is that it will eventually return to a potentionmetric level at or above the river valley floor, which is between 80 and 90’ msl.

At that time, all else being equal, Kissengen Spring may begin to flow again.

Such a recovery is dependent on public support for conservation, restoration, and the development of alternative sources for water supply, other than the traditional over-drafting of local aquifers.

==Lifting Weights At Kissengen Spring==

b>Picture Donated By IVAN RICHARDSON

Charles "Buckshot" Lowery worked at the spring during the summer.

Picture was taken in mid 1940s. Note the KS on the swim suit.

He was an outstanding diver on the Summerlin Swim Team while in high school.

==Florida Conservation Coalition==

The Florida Conservation Coalition is devoted to protecting and conserving

Florida’s land, fish and wildlife and water resources that are essential to

the well-being and quality of life of the residents of this state, and for its

long-term economic prosperity. Florida’s natural resources are a

treasure to be conserved for the people of Florida and must be managed

judiciously, not squandered.

Florida Coalition Conservation

Photo Courtesy Of Florida Board Of Conservation Donated By Vincent Pickett

Photo taken April 1947. Note the beach umbrellas on left beach

and the many divers on the diving platform.

Compare this to the photo below.

Photo Courtesy Of Florida Board Of Conservation Donated By Vincent Pickett

Photo taken 1950. Note the pavillion is now gone.

The diving platform is there.

The spring is not flowing and filled with vegetation


"Quote from Cynthia Barnett's article." "It had been more than 60 years since they'd splashed in Polk County's Kissengen Spring.

But their memories were so crisp that one woman got a cold shiver as she remembered running down a long dock and diving into its icy-blue depths.

They'd pedaled their bicycles or saved gas coupons to carpool out to Kissengen in the 1940s, when it was a privately owned attraction.

They rode horses, ate 25-cent hamburgers and wore down the dance floor in the rustic pavilion next door to the spring.

But their best memories were of the water itself.

Cold and inviting, mysterious and exciting, there was no comparison to the city pool in nearby Lakeland. They plunged down Kissengen's steep slide into springwater that bubbled up from the Floridan Aquifer at the rate of 20 million gallons a day.

Their cannonballs sent ripples 200 feet around them to the edge of the spring pool.

They leaped from the dizzying wooden high-dive, framed by tall oaks and thick Spanish moss.

It was a picture straight out of the old Tarzan movies."

Cynthia Barnett Article- Kissengen Spring Dry Since 1950

1886 Burr Family and Kissingen Springs

In 1886, the Burr family moved near the Kissengen Spring to start farming.

A scroll down the above link will show an early drawing of the springs.

To find where the spring was, look at the old aerial map above that shows the location.

The water from the spring ran into Peace River.

The land is owned by the State of Florida. Access to the spring is only possible with a group that has permission.

The dirt road leading to the spring site is gated and locked.

There is the location of a spring waiting to come back to life. In 1962 a sinkhole filled in the spring vent with clay.


Geologists have noted that clays entering the high flows of aquifer

groundwater immediately disperse and are diluted and carried away rapidly.

Although we previously had concern about clays plugging the spring connections to the aquifer,

we learned through the core sampling and pump tests that the subsurface caves,

and conduits are open and transmit tremendous volumes of water. No clay was found in the main caverns 40-60’ below ground, or deeper.

The clays that exist are restricted to the surface of the spring basin and are only 2’ thick.

They thin out with distance from the spring vent, and disappear at about 100’ yards down the spring run.

The fact that springflow was observed in 2006 indicates that the groundwater system is open for flows.

The problem is the lack of potentiometric levels and upward pressure within the aquifers.

==Google Kissengen Spring Bartow, Florida==

Go to Google maps and search Kissengen Spring Bartow, FL and a marker will pop up on the site.

Use the maximum zoom to see the springs site. A dirt road north of the site is seen that dead ends near the spring site.

View Larger Map

The spring was a place of beauty and many people visited it or some worked at the pavillions over the years.

Alas, in 1950 the spring dried up and all that is left is a mudhole and maybe a spring reborn.

The article below below explains why it dried up.

Kissengen Spring was much enjoyed and now is dried up.

==We Know It Can Flow: See Below==

A recently discovered picture from Charles Cook showing the Feb 16, 2006 flow after the hurricanes. The amazing picture of Kissengen Spring taken in April 2006 contrasts with the

February 2006 photo showing spring flow after the 2004 hurricane season.

The sudden drying of the spring resulted from the onset of the 2006 drought coupled with heavy groundwater

pumping that lowered the local water table below the spring vent.

Efforts to offset excessive groundwater pumping include assisting farms and power plants with water reuse,

and The development of coastal desal. Public conservation efforts have already reduced groundwater consumption for Domestic uses by 20-30%.

Keeping a minimum aquifer level of around 90’ above sea level in the Upper Peace River

Would give the Peace a chance to regain flow from Kissengen Spring, and

provide a minimum flow for plants, animals, and canoeing.

==Restoration of Kissengen Spring==

==The Potential for Restoration of Kissengen Spring in Polk County, Florida==

Forgotten in the swampy floodplain of the Peace River in South Central

Florida, once famous Kissengen Spring lies dormant beneath fifty years of

backwater sediments. The site, though hardly recognizable as the location of

what was a second magnitude spring, once hosted thousands of visitors,

was the favorite swimming hole for thousands of regular locals,

and has been the featured subject in news articles since the late 19th century.

It is believed that Kissengen Spring was fed by pressurized waters from the Upper Floridan Aquifer System and perhaps other local aquifers.

As increased groundwater withdrawal beginning in the late 1930's lowered the potentiometric surface of the aquifers, Kissengen Spring gradually ceased flowing.

The spring was publicly declared inactive in 1950 as the result of overpumpage.

Investigations into the loss of the spring determined that it might flow again

should the recharge of the supporting aquifers exceed withdrawals, an unlikely scenario until several important factors changed.

Today, the restoration of Kissengen Spring is a topic that is receiving a serious review by environmental managers and by entities charged with the long-term planning for the development of the surrounding area.

Within this window of opportunity, the implications of treating the spring as a resource that might be restored is engaging the review of many stakeholders,

including a new generation of owners and potential users.

The underlying question may be whether or not the water shortage faced by Kissengen Spring is real and permanent,

or the result of a period of lower than average rainfall coupled with decades of pre-regulatory overdrafting of the aquifer.

If the latter is true, and consensus can be reached on the future disposition of groundwater resources,

then the potential exists for reclaiming the natural level of the local potentiometric surface in which case Kissengen Spring might be restored.

==Project Now Being Built To Clean Lake Hancock And Increase Flow Of Peace River==

The Lake Hancock Outfall Wetland Project is a large-scale, flow-through,

wetland to improve the quality of water that discharges from Lake Hancock to Saddle Creek and ultimately to the Peace River and Charlotte Harbor.

The project site is located adjacent to and south of Lake Hancock in Bartow, Polk County, Florida.

The finished project will consist of a 1,008-acre treatment wetland located on former reclaimed phosphate mine clay settling areas now owned by the District.

Water will be pumped from the southern shore of the lake through three wetland cells.

The cells will incorporate narrow planting strips separated by larger natural recruitment zones.

The treated water will discharge from the Cell 3 wetland outfall structure into Lower Saddle Creek, which is downstream of the lake outfall structure (P-11).

The project includes construction of an inlet pump station,

instrumentation, controls, control structures, earthwork, embankment, slurry cut-off wall, channels, aeration structure and access road.

On the south end of Lake Hancock is a structure called P-11.

It can be raised or lowered to control the level in Lake Hancock.

The plan is to raise the level of the lake about a foot and making the lake a natural storage area for much needed water.

The water can't be directly discharged into Peace River because of the polluted condition of the water.

A second project is being built on the Old Plantation property to clean the water and send it to Peace River.

These two projects will increase the clean flow of Peace River and hopefully recharge the aquifer around the Kissengen Spring area.

We Friends of Kissengen wait to see the effect of these two projects on Kissengen Spring.

There is an ongoing project to raise the level of Lake Hancock and start a larger flow towards Peace River.

This article below the picture explains the Lake Hancock Project.

Lake Hancock Project

P-11 controls the level of Lake Hancock by raising or lowering a weir gate.

Lake Hancock gains water by from direct rainfall, groundflow percolation, and from several creeks that drain the Lakeland and Auburndale ridge.

Progressing from west to east (clockwise), Banana Creek drains Banana Lake, and enters through the Circle B Bar Ranch wetland treatment area.

Saddle Creek drains the valley north of Lake Hancock up to Interstate 4, and flows through the lake before exiting at the southwest end.

To the east, Lena Run drains an area up to the west side of Auburndale,

then passes through a series of reclaimed wetland treatment areas before entering Lake Hancock on the southeast side.

Plans are to raise the structure to maintain the lake a foot higher.

Flows from Lake Hancock through the P-11 structure are uncommon during dry years.

During extremely wet periods, the lake rises and requires releases of water to maintain the current 99’ msl operating level.

The graph below shows a 90 day period through October 31, 2011.

The P-11 gate was opened several times to control high lake levels.

Otherwise, there was no flow exiting Lake Hancock.

P-11, located at the southwestern outlet of Lake Hancock, feeds Saddle Creek,

which joins with Peace Creek about one mile north of the SR 60 bridge across the Peace River.

The Peace River officially begins at the confluence of Saddle Creek with Peace Creek,

and continues about 85 miles southward to Charlotte Harbor and eventually the Gulf of Mexico.

30 October 2011 Lake Hancock Project Sign==NOW IT STARTS!==

Safety Hats, Safety Goggles, Safety Boots are required.

The spring now is dormant. Can it be brought back? Some people hope so.

Program:Revitalizing Kissingen Spring

Many springs in Florida are in trouble.

The springs are taken for granted that they will always be there.

The truth is many are in trouble.

Vanishing Springs-A Wake-Up Call

At left, Kissengen Spring, located four miles southeast of Bartow, was a

popular recreational area. It stopped flowing in 1950 due to over pumping of

the aquifer in the region, and artesian wells not capped off. When the

spring flowed, it discharged about 20 million gallons of water daily

into a spring pool from a 17-foot deep cavern. Today the spring basin is

overgrown with native and invasive plants and there's little evidence of its

former glory. Overuse of groundwater by industry, agriculture and

residents in the upper and lower basins continues to cause problems in the

Peace River watershed.

The 20 million gallons of water from Kissengen Spring used to flow into the Peace River daily.

The lack of the spring water has greatly changed the condition of the Peace River for the worse.

==Peace River Watershed==

Peace River Watershed

On the above link, see the video "Restoring the Pieces of the Peace River" and view the article "Peace River Watershed Excursion"

Before Kissengen Spring can be restored, the watershed needs restoring.

This article shows some bathers in the spring and a diving board behind them.

The Polk County Museum had a Historical Marker Ceremony and a documentary video was presented in August 2011.

The marker has now been placed at the Mosaic Peace River Park for the public to view.

Kissingen Spring Was Spot For Fun

Here is a pdf file that has a picture taken in the 1930's and describes the activities that were done in the pavillion.

Also, Polk County people will enjoy the rest of the old pictures.

Activities That Were In The Pavillion

Picture Permission John Moran--See His beautiful Site

The historical marker was funded by the Florida Humanities Council and this article describes the ceremony.

Kissengen Spring Historical Marker Presentation]

Florida Archives has several old photos of the spring.

At one time it had water slides.

Florida Archive Photos

==Hydrology Problems With The Springs==

In 1962 a sinkhole formed near the site of Kissengen Spring and a flow of clay went down the flow vent and probably the underground channels.

This could have been a major problem in restoring flow to the spring.

But, during the 2004 hurricance season the spring flowed again for a short time. The clay did not plug the vent

Kissengen Spring Flow Restoration

What does the spring site look like today?

Here is shown an old picture compared to a recent picture of the area.

Keep in mind the fill in situation.

How Does The Spring Look Today?]

Dover Sink is east of Bartow and close to Peace River. Up to 11 million gallons of water can leave the river and go underground. The water in the past may have flowed out of the sink and form a spring pool. This could have been Clear Springs location.

Dover Sink could possible be the location of Clear Springs. The spring probably met the same fate as Kissengen Spring and dried up. Look at the video below and the water flowing into Dover Sink may have done the reverse several decades ago. Mr. Clark is the eye witness account of fishing in Clear Springs. You will see the sink fill up with water and form a pool. It my best guess that this how the Clear Springs looked like.

Peace River sometimes goes dry and flows into several sinks around the riverbed.

Here is a series of pictures of Peace River showing different water levels and places where the water flows into openings to the underground karst conduits.

Peace River Is Sometimes Dry And Flows Underground

Work down way past two old pictures of the spring and find a 2006 picture of the spring basin with a sediment layer

and the next picture of a water level gauge being placed in the mud.

Find Picture Of Water Gauge Being Placed In The Mud

Kissengen Spring used to put 20 million gallons of water per day into Peace River and then the river had a year round flow.

Lacking the spring water and 11 million gallons going down into large sinks causes the upper river to go dry in the spring.

It is indeed a complex problem.

Water regulation use was not in effect until too late.

Progress is slowly being made to control draining the aquifer.

Shown here is the size of one of the many cracks in Peace River. 11 Million Gallons of River Water Goes Underground

The number of cracks and sinks in the Peace River are numerous.

The water flows down into huge caverns that can hold millions of gallons of water.

Find pages 56-59 to see some excellent pictures of these leaks from the Peace River down into the aquifer.

There are many great pictures in this 92 page report.

USGS Publications

A hydrology report on Peace River and points to efforts to repair damage done by lowering the water table.

Hydrology Report On Peace River]

An article from Cynthia Barnett who wrote the book Mirage:Florida and the Vanishing Water of the Eastern U.S.

Cynthia Barnett and the Vanishing Water]

June, 2011 Cynthia Barnett writes an article for the St. Petersburg Times that proposes all citizens in Florida should be concerned as to what is happening to our water supply.

Toward a Water Ethic

==Florida Aquifers==

Here is a USGS report to help understand the Floridan Aquifer and why there are springs, sinkholes, artesian wells in Florida.

The aquifer is the source of water for millions of people in the Southeast.

Information about the Floridan Aquifer is found here.

Florida Aquifers

Most spring water comes from the Floridan Aquifer.

This water enters the aquifer from groundwater rechage areas across the Southeast. Important: The water is under pressure and this force pushes water out of spring vents.

Here is an excellent resource for understanding the dynamics of aquifers.

Florida Aquifers]

==Who Is Protecting The Springs?==

Florida has the DEP or Department of Environmental Protection which is agency for protecting many natural resorces, including springs.

How they are involved with springs is found here.

Department of Environmental Protection]

Locations of springs in Florida.

There are several links here and pictures of the main springs of Florida.

The animations on the interactive Florida Springs 101 are very informative.

Florida's Springs Protecting Nature's Gems

==Southwest Florida Water Management District==

Any hope of restoring Kissengen Spring is found in the report of SWFWMD

"Southern Water Use Caution Area Recovery Strategy".

Find page 9 and there is this quote.

"In order to restore flow from Kissengen Spring, it will be necessary to increase groundwater

levels in the vicinity of the springs. The only practical means of accomplishing this would be to reduce groundwater withdrawls."

Find page 85 and read about the Lake Hancock Project.

This project hopes to raise the level of Lake Hancock about 1 foot.

The result would increase flow into the Peace River.

Part of the project is to filter the water through marsh areas before releasing it.

Find page 100 and "Streamflow Losses Through Karst Features in the Upper Peace River".

Peace River has several openings into the karst conduits

and millions of gallons of water flow underground instead of down the riverbed.

This project hopes to create berms around these

holes and limit the amount of water being lost.

Projects are in the works as we speak to restore the whole Peace River Basin.

South Water Use Caution Area Recovery Strategy

===Circle B Bar Reserve===

Let's take a trip to an old cattle ranch on North end of Lake Hancock that is being restored to a marsh

that helps clean the water and provide habitat for many plants and animals.

Watch some wonderful pictures of plants, animals,and some other surprises.

There is a full screen option in the lower right hand corner for best veiwing.

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