Crystal Spring flows year-round from the Flint Hills limestone aquifer. Known locally as City Spring, it yields up to 1000 gallons per minute. The 1949 pump house provides water to nearby Florence, where the historic water tower proclaims, “99.96% Pure Spring Water.” At the rear base of the pump house, the spring flows from a rusty, moss-covered hatch. Water can be collected from the stream or by wading to the hatch. Caution: The spring bank may be slippery. Be aware of sharp stones and broken glass in both the parking area and the creek bed.
A monument at the spring site details its history:
This site is said to have been a favorite camping ground of the Indians. Patent on this land was filed by James D. Riggs on April 25, 1876. Ralph Robison, who purchased the property July 31, 1915, signed a ninety-nine year lease on July 20, 1920, with the city of Florence for water rights. The city paid $10,000 for the first year and $500 each year for the remainder of the lease. This included four acres and right-of-way for the access road and water main. Crystal Spring, also known as Riggs Spring or City Spring, is one of the largest single springs in the Flint Hills.
The building houses the pumping equipment used to pump the water to the water tower (built in 1887) west of the city. The pump has the capacity to deliver up to 370 gallons per minute to the water tower. Except for a brief time in 1951, after flood waters covered the pump, a continuous water supply has met the needs of the city with a large amount of overflow into the creek bed below the water works. A well was dug in the vicinity of the spring to serve as an auxiliary supply in case of need.
With the passing of Robison in 1960, the land and spring was left to Father Flanigan’s Boys’ Home of Omaha and the Methodist Children’s Home at Newton. In 1961 the property was purchased by John Deforest of Peabody and remains in the family today.
“The Flint Hills Aquifer in Kansas” by Robert Davidson
“Water of the Most Excellent Kind: Historic Springs in Kansas” by Rex Buchanan, Robert Sawin, and Wayne Lebsack
Directions from US-50 W
Turn north on 130th Street (Landmarks: Hillcrest Cemetery sign and water treatment building)
After crossing two bridges, take the next right on Whitetail Road (Landmark: White house)
Take the first right turn—this access road dead ends at Crystal Spring