PAGE 2 BANANA LAKE AND BEYOND
PAGE 3 A WET TRIP TO KISSENGEN SPRING
PAGE 4 TRIBUTE: THOMAS E. JACKSON &2011 Spring Pictures
PAGE 5 SPRING VENT( 2015) NEW INFO! AND CLARK INTERVIEW [HISTORY OF THE SPRING]
Hope for sure, Ron! Yes, we do have some information about the spring vent
wing-wall and oak on the left) This sketch was after
We did an electrical resistivity survey of the subsurface and identified the
layers and the shape of the vent.
aquifer was high enough to create a slight boil (seen to the right of the milk crate in the photo).
The pump test determined that the water in the spring was in fact coming from a
connection to the aquifer below, and was not just storm water ponding in the pool area.
of dried, cracked clays that allow water to boil through.
We didn’t reach the actual cavern, but I had earlier interviewed an ol’ timer
who owned the spring and he described it to me (see attached Thorly Clark interview).
When I began studying the spring in 1998, the pool was plugged and remained
ponded for a long time after the rainy seasons, before it finally evaporated.
After the 2004 hurricane season, the spring pond began to
empty as the groundwater levels fell, and rose again when levels came back.
Therefore, we know the spring vent is no longer completely plugged
and communicates with the groundwater below. (Remember the vent was
plugged with overburden in 1962 to stop the outflow of clay water coming
from a nearby sinkhole in the bottom of a clay settling area. From 1962 until 2006, the spring could not flow).
However, the vent remains in filled with sand and there is not enough artesian pressure to clear that out.
Interview by Charles Cook FDEP February 2001
Mr. Thorly Clark, a lifelong resident of Bartow, Florida, remembers many things
about Kissengen Spring and the other features of Bartow from the early 1920’s. His father bought two forty acre tracts along the Peace River southeast of Bartow from the Logan family in 1928. In the southeast corner of the south most tract was a large spring at that time called Kissengen Spring. Mr. Clark says the origin of the name “Kissengen” was not known but that it was called Kissengen Spring since the late eighteen hundreds when the Bennett family owned it and had already built a two story house by the spring . The Clark‘s developed the spring by removing muck from its bottom and created a dike around the pool. A mule and pole wagon was used to scrape the earth and haul it away. After cleaning up the spring which was in a swamp area near the river, they hauled in sand from neighboring hills and made beaches for the spring. He says the upland area, owned by the Laurent family, was piney woods with some areas of pure white sand which they preferred. Mr. Clark’s father then constructed a two-story bathhouse and residence and invited visitors who frequented their secluded resort. In 1935, following record rainfall associated with a Hurricane, the water from the river rose to cover the spring and was six feet above the first floor of the bathhouse. Mr. Clark remembered catching a very large catfish at this time because the fish was stranded inside a hollowed oak stump by the spring when the water receded. Mr. Clark’s family lost the property late into the Great Depression. In 1935 the property returned to the Logan family who held the one thousand dollar mortgage that Mr. Clark’s father could not pay. After losing the Kissengen Spring property, the Clarks then acquired ten acres of land adjoining the spring. The elder Clark immediately began constructing a large swimming pool using a mule and pole wagon to scrape out a forty by seventy foot hole. They hauled rock from a nearby railroad, and mixed cement all day long and plastered in the pool working well into the nights. A pipe was installed to pump water up from the spring.
They used a six inch phosphate slurry pump fitted to an abandoned oil test well located close to the spring. The pool was emptied, cleaned refilled each week and it only took minutes to refill using the big pump. The oil well is still there today but not in use.
Mr. Clark remembered the engineer who drilled the well and that the artesian pressure was so strong the engineer said it “would put a spray of water on the Bartow courthouse”. Mr. Clark says the swimming pool survives today, but the home they built burned down in 1939. The elder Clark also developed a trailer park on the ten acres and called it “Iris Park” because he planted and kept the flowers there. This may have been the first trailer park in operation in Florida. The park did not do well and eventually closed because it was too far off the road according the Mr. Clark. The Clarks hosted soldiers home on leave seeking recreation. Mr. Clark graduated from Bartow High school in 1935 the year the family lost the spring and suffered the big flood. He moved to Gainesville, Florida until 1939, then returned to Bartow to open a restaurant across from the old courthouse. He later worked for the Department of Transportation and was involved with soil mapping the central counties down to Hendry County. Later he prospected for a phosphate company and surveyed the east side of the Peace River between Homeland and Bartow. During those years he often walked up the river with a rifle hunting game, fish, and gators. He remembers shooting large snook, and tarpon that came up the river and were in the spring. He says that there was another large spring north of Kissengen spring that was bigger and closer to the river. It was near the end of the Kincaid Dairy road and was usually full of large fish which he often shot with his rifle. He is the only one to describe the spring existence
and says it was called “Clear spring”. He also recalls another spring east of the river in Ft. Meade. Mr. Clark’s recollection of mining activities include large barges in the river between Kissengen spring and Homeland. The barges pumped sand from the river bottom out to the swamps and for a long time you could see the mounds of sand from a great distance until trees grew over them. He remembers the Stickney brothers being hired to clear the river of big logs so the barges and boats could navigate up to Bartow. When asked how to get to the actual site of Kissengen spring Mr. Clark said to look for the old swimming pool and oil well, then go southeast toward the river. He says the river meanders eastward around the swamp which contained the spring, and that the spring run went west two hundred feet, then south for one quarter mile to meet the river. He says the spring run can still be located because no large trees grow in its channel, and you can follow it up from the river to find the spring.
Mr. Clark was not present during the period that Kissengen spring dried up and could give no information other than remembering a time when many local springs stopped flowing for a while and then started flowing again. He learned that from newspaper accounts during the late forties. Mr. Clark stated that the spring orifice was located within the northeast quadrant of the pool. The orifice was as large as an office desk and consisted of a hole that went laterally to the north. The hole was under a ledge on the northern rim of the orifice. The swimming structure viewed in the 1920’s photographs was located on the east side of the spring pool. The oil test well was located northeast of the spring, and today is the double-pipe structure located in the picnic area. The swimming pool area well pipes were for filling and emptying the pool. The pipe that was angled down and to the east was for draining the pool. The spring was located south of the pool. Mr. Clark was unsure if the circular depression we visited at the site was in fact the spring. He said that he would go to the site with us any time to confirm these landmarks.