lesser known springs – hygeia and acme

Hygeia Spring was first advertised in 1869.  It is notable for its role in the Great Pipeline Battle.  In 1891, Kansas City native James E. McElroy developed a plan to lay a pipeline to the 1893 Columbia Exposition in Chicago and sell Waukesha water there.  Local residents thought this would prevent visitors from coming to Waukesha, and fought against the plan.  The battle escalated to involve the legislature, the governor, and even a midnight confrontation between laborers and townspeople.  In the end, the townspeople won and McElroy instead piped water from a spring in Big Bend to the Exposition and claimed that it had come from Waukesha.  He sold the water for a penny a glass. 1 

Today Hygeia Spring is located on private land, but the owner has allowed the public access to the spring and allows visitors to bring their own containers and transport water home.  The water can be taken for free, however a donation box is present to help pay for maintenance and electricity to run the pumps. 2


Acme, Carleton, and Sunnyside springs were located on the west side of St. Paul Avenue, just north of the Wisconsin Avenue bridge.  Water from the Acme spring was first piped in the late 1800s and used to sprinkle the surrounding dirt roads to help keep down the dust.  Later the springs owner, Isaac Lain, developed a park around his spring and called it High View Spring.  In 1883 or 1884, the name was changed to Acme Spring. 

In 1995, the Landmarks Commission, along with the spring's land owner, restored the limestone structure.  Work has continued on this spring, and there are further plans to restore this trping to it’s former glory as funds become available. 3  Once again open to the public for viewing, Acme Springs has become a popular geocache location.



1 Wisconsin Historical Society, Creator Unknown, View of Hygeia Spring, Image ID 37166. Viewed online at http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Content.aspx?dsNav=Ny:True,Ro:0,N:429496...

2 https://www.yelp.com/biz/hygeia-spring-big-bend

3 http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM30EE_Acme_Spring_Waukesha

Additional Posts