HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. — Tuesday’s heat and humidity was no match for Dick Beavers, who along with Olin Hess, was determined to put the final touches on their work at the Hedgesville Town Spring.
Despite a persistent breeze and dark clouds that threatened rain, the men continued their combined efforts to repaint the shelter over the well-known local landmark – as well as stencil the words “town spring” in white on the dark green background.
Neither complained about the uncomfortable weather, instead choosing to focus on their chores – at one point, Hess chuckled about getting paint on his snow-white beard after leaning a little too close to where he’d been working.
“That’s from leaning over the ladder. I got my bucket up here, but I have to lean over to get to it,” he explained with a smile.
It was clearly a labor of love.
That’s because each man had plenty of fond, childhood memories about going to the public spot for a drink of cool, refreshing water – especially on hot days, they agreed.
“I went to school at Hedgesville High, and many is the day when I’ve gotten me a drink of water out of there,” he said.
“There used to be a tin cup down there, so that you could dip it to get a drink of that nice, cold spring water. It was good, old mountain water that stayed cold no matter how hot it would get. But those days of getting a drink here are gone now because it is a different time – at least it’s still been saved,” Beavers said.
After carefully arranging stencils in his truckbed, Beavers took a level up on one side of the shelter to ensure the letters would be straight before they were spray painted onto it.
At various times, Hess would edge closer from his nearby vantage point to see Beavers’ progress.
“It’s kind of a shame there’s a cap on it now. Lots of good memories here, no doubt,” Hess said.
Hedgesville Mayor Mary Sue Catlett said that the spring touched local lives for decades, including her own.
Although her family had running water, others didn’t, Catlett said, still vividly able to recall childhood days spent carrying spring water to local, elderly people.
“It was especially hard for them in the summer, when it was so hot like it’s been here lately,” she said.
Catlett said that although the spring pump was removed, it may be possible for it to be returned, and that is being investigated.
“Even today, people are so interested in the spring. When I take the school children on my local tour, their eyes get really big when I talk about how many people depended on this for their drinking water,” she said.
Historians believe the limestone spring – which consistently remains 57 degrees – may have originally been a Native American meeting place prior to the arrival of European settlers in the region in the early 1700s.
Legend has it that “whoever drinks from the spring will always return.”
– Staff writer Jenni Vincent can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 131.