13. DOLLY COPP SPRING

The presence of a pure water source had an influence on the decision of the first campers to pass the night here.

The Berlin Reporter in 1921 noted that “near the highway is the old ‘Copp Spring’, which has been stoned up and surrounded with stepping stones.”


Very early photo as post card title states "The Spring at U.S.F.S
Public Camp Ground," no Copp name included in title as yet.
See image above at large scale (900 kb).

Source: Scott McClory Dolly Copp Collection.


Then NH State tourism literature of 1938 said the Spring “carries a long, historical background.” Don't we wish we knew more about that.

A circa 1939 summary of early Campground history recorded that “as early as 1915 there was picnicking and possibly some camping at the spring on the east side of the Peabody River.”

Dolly Copp Spring on 1915 map.
See above in context of full 1915 map (132 KB).

The 1915 map shows a drainage course running from the Spring northwesterly to the Peabody River. The depression seen today between the Shelter and the main picnic field may be a remnant of this natural feature.

 

Early views of Dolly Copp Spring.

The first reference to the Dolly Copp Spring in Forest Service archives appears in the Summer of 1927. Sanitary problems were being corrected; “The water level in the Dolly Copp Spring has been lowered so that water can be drawn from the inlet pipe instead of being dipped out.

A ditch has been dug from the spring and along the draw above the Spring, in order to carry off the water at the outlet of the Spring and the seepage water from above.”

Name of spring incorporated into early signage.

Eleven years later a 1938 memo finds that “The Dolly Copp Spring is not draining properly.... It is my recommendation that in order to eliminate a hazard to public health this spring be enclosed and a cover provided with a lock in order that it cannot be used until such time as it is made safe to use.”

But then in a 1939 memo we find that “Dolly Copp Spring was changed to allow sanitary and easy access to the water.” This is the last written reference to the Spring in USFS archival memos. But the 1940 Campground map recorded the Spring that year as an operating public resource.

Dolly Copp Spring on 1940 Campground map.

In the early fifties some campers did not prefer the piped Campground water. As an alternative they would fill containers from a Dolly Copp Spring remnant still flowing from a pipe at that time (CH).

Belvin Barnes recalls that the flow of groundwater from the east that had fed the Spring was permanently blocked by a major Route 16 upgrading near 1958.

Bradford Washburn, seeking to find an historic Spring remnant to note on his authoritative 1988 topographic map, could find none during his mid-eighties close inspection of the area (CH).

Had today's much more landmark sensitive Federal Highway Administration roadway improvement policies been in place in 1958, this historic spring might still be flowing.

A locational estimate from the 1940 base map places the Spring on the east side of the Picnic Area road, about 260 feet northeast of the edge of the old bridge. A second estimate using the 1988 Washburn map locates it about 125 feet south of today's Lavatory 13, compatible conclusions.

Other recollections agree, placing it just south of the modern day lavatory (GB), and in the opened area between mounds, again south of today's lavatory (BB).