Another newspaper article clipped and placed in a scrapbook without attribution. It may be dated to some time circa 1940.
“Photograph No. 1 probably was taken before 1896, when the first dam was built across the creek. It shows two, instead of one cascade, much less vegetation and a more gradual slope on the mound in contrast to the recent picture, No. 2, taken by Fred F. Nora from across the dam pond, and showing trees that are less than 45 years old. Mr. Swinnerton urges that more pictures of the spring area taken before 1900 be unearthed for the geology department.”
By Fred F. Nora
A piece of rock larger than a horse’s head came loose from the lip-like mouth of the Yellow Spring cascade recently and broke into three chunks in the pool below.
Any orthodox waterfall wears down the rock that forms its cascade, with the result that slabs of rock occasioinally plunge into the gorge below. Hardly 100 yards to the east of the Yellow Spring the Cascade Creek falls over limestone which occasionally breaks off in slabs, because the softer rock below is being undercut by the splashing water.
But the Yellow Spring, for which the village is named, is different from ordinary cascades.
It has been busy ever since its beginning thousands of years ago, building up its own rocky channel from mineral particles carried in its waters which gush from the hillside and splash into the Yellow Springs creek, 70 feet below.
Whenever a chunk of rock breaks off the mouth of the Yellow Spring, it indicates that the mineral in the water has built the tufa—or calcium carbonate deposit of the mound, which resembles dried animal bone—so far out over the cavern under the “lip” that the new rock becomes too heavy and breaks off.
Water Builds Mound
About 30,000 years ago the last great continental ice sheet, or glacier, melted northward from Greene County and the melting waters rushed southward, some of them enlarging the present valley of the Yellow Springs creek. Thus Glen Helen started on its romantic history.
Some time later—ten thousand years or so—a spring oozed from a crack in the east bank of the creek above where the concrete dam now stands, and trickled down the cliff, leaving a reddish-yellow stain on the rocks.This gaudy mineral deposit has covered the old valley slope at an estimated rate of three or four tons a year, building up a 60,000 ton mound of brittle spring deposit (tufa) that forms a veritable bay window 500 feet wide which protrudes 350 out from the previously straight-sided valley of the creek.
“The spring deposits 10 to 30 parts of mineral per millioin parts of water on the mound, although a total of nearly 300 parts of mineral gushes out of the catch basin.” A. C. Swinnerton, head of the geology department at Antioch College, declared, on the basis of measurements carried on by his reasearch assistants. “The spring deposits more mineral in summer than in winter.”
Spring Being “Regimented”
The superintendent of grounds for the Glen has decreed that, in order to maintain its beauty, the spring shall keep a straight channel; so today a larger amount of the mineral is carried down the creek than in the old days, when the natural fountain meandered and migrated leisurely all over its mound, each year enabling several tons of iron and calciuim particles to catch in twigs and leaves, building up the dome-shaped layers of rock which are exposed in the cut south of the dam.
Old photographs and accounts show that there are more trees and shrubs on the spring mound today than there were several decades ago, when the area teemed with tourists and guests. This observation, together with the presence of leaf fossils in only the upper10 feet of the mound, have suggested to Allen Bennison, assistant in the geology department, that confining the spring flow to a definite channel, rather than letting it ooze all over the mound, makes easier the accumulation of soil in which seeds can take root and develop before being encased in calcium
Many Leaf Fossils Found
Many fossilized plants and bones of small animals are found in the upper layers of the mound, while the college geologists could find no fossils at the inner end of the tunnel which they and NYA students excavated into the base of the mound.
Last year when Mr. Bennison was finishing the digging of the tunnel below the spring, he discovered that previous estimates that the mound contains 100,000 tons of deposit, or 200,000 cubic yards, were far too generous. Now they think that hardly more than 120,000 cubic yards of tufa is a good figure.
For years before the Yellow Spring began filling the valley with tufa, rock and dirt had fallen from the cliffs and had made a gradual slope of talus which is now covered up by the spring mound, according to Mr. Bennison. It’s something like finding a false bottom nearly one-third up the inside of a berry box.
Rain Affects Flow
Although its catch-basin, or reservoir, is nearly 40 feet below the hills to the northeast, the Yellow Spring is not arteisan, but a simple gravity spring, according to Mr. Swinnerton.
“The spring water and mineral come from a nearby source and not—as a few people think—from points as distant as western Pennsylvania,” the geologist declared, “One indication of this is that our measurements show a variation in the flow of the spring of between 60 and 80 gallons per minute, with a noticeable increase a day or two aftera local rain storm. If the source were far away, we would not have found such a direct relationship between spring flow and local rainfall.”
Water Coldest in Summer
Ninety years ago Judge William C. Mills, early local settler, measured the flow as 107-1/2 gallons a minute, and the water temperature as nearly constant at about 53 degrees. Mr. Bennison declares that the water now issuing from the spring is nearly one-half degree cooler than that he measured last January.