Scuppernong Spring House

The headwaters of the Scuppernong River were coveted by early settlers to harness as an economic engine. Chester Smith built a saw mill there around 1847 and Curtis Mann and Talbot Dousman created THE PONDS OF THE SCUPPERNONG for their trout farm and built a cheese factory in 1870 at the site of Chester’s mill. As the reputation of ponds, trout and serene location grew, so did the number and frequency of visitors, prompting Mann and Dousman to convert the cheese factory into a hotel, which they called the Scuppernong Spring House. You can read all about it in Robert Duerwachter’s great book, THE PONDS OF THE SCUPPERNONG where he explains “The Last relic of the Scuppernong Ponds, the building which at one time had been a saw mill, a cheese factory, a hotel, a restaurant, and a club house, was destroyed by fire on August 21, 1972, the work of an arsonist.”

Looking south from the site of the Scuppernong Spring House.



Since the fire, the hotel site has been colonized by huge aspen trees and buckthorn. There are some very fine oak and hickory trees on the slopes above the site and these too were under assault from buckthorn. Here is a view of the area as seen from Hwy 67.

Down at the hotel site there was a buckthorn thicket laced with huge fallen aspen and cedar trees; a lot more work than I thought!




I took my time with this mess and when I finished the 6th tank of gas it was almost 4:00pm.



A strolling tour.

Revisiting the view from Hwy 67.

A close up study of the gnarly oak.

I enjoyed a nice walk around the trails and stopped at the stream gaging station to upload .30 to the Crowd Hydrology site. The sunset was beckoning, but I was tired and a little chilled so I headed for home back in Milwaukee.

See you at the Springs!

WDNR Awarded $75,000 NAWCA Grant

There was quite a buzz at the South Kettle Moraine State Forest Headquarters as news of the $75,000 North American Wetlands Conservation Act award echoed in the surrounding oaks. Phase IV of the Scuppernong River Habitat Area restoration effort will proceed full speed ahead thanks to the efforts of Project Officer Matt Zine and Grant Preparer Dave Hoffman, who did an excellent job on his first grant proposal. The majority of the $75,000 matching funds required to secure the grant is being provided by the Kettle Moraine Natural History Association. Our volunteer efforts are as good as gold and will also be used to help make the match.

The NAWCA grant represents another step in the leadership transition at forest headquarters as they try to do the impossible and fill Ron Kurowski’s shoes. Dave Hoffman was a limited term employee when I ran into him at the Scuppernong Springs last October and since then he has accepted a full-time position as an Wildlife Technician (Advanced) working for the Bureau of Endangered Resources in the Southern Unit. He is back “home” in Eagle and couldn’t be happier. I think he deserves a raise!

Here are a couple pictures of the north and south sections of the Scuppernong River Habitat Area showing the work described for Phase IV in the grant proposal.



We share the “buzz” with the DNR staff and look forward to seeing the Phase IV goals realized!

Meanwhile, back at “The Springs”, there is plenty of buckthorn that needs cutting. There are a couple of gaffes in the narrative below: Robert Duerwachter wrote THE PONDS OF THE SCUPPERNONG (not William!); and no, this was not the last of the buckthorn that needs to be cut.

Lindsay and I cut a heap of buckthorn and Pati helped pile the brush.


Later, Pati and I took a dreamy walk visiting all the springs.




The cut-off trail has some wet spots so be prepared if you want to take that path. Hopefully, the DNR will be able to make improvements to complete the resurrection of the “lost trail“.



See you at the Springs!