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SPACES: Chamberlin Springs, a hidden retreat

October 12, 2011


About fives miles northwest of Beloit College, there is a quiet patch of woods. Nestled between patches of farmland, this 50-acre piece of land has remained untouched by development for years.

This is Chamberlin Springs, a nature preserve owned by the college. In the 1800s the property was owned by Thomas Chamberlin, an accomplished geologist and 1866 Beloit graduate. In 1875, Chamberlin and his brother tapped into a small spring on their property and turned a simple woodlot into a big spring-water business—and a regional hot spot. The Chamberlin brothers’ brochure referred to the water as “the golden mean between excess and deficiency,” and claimed it would cure a laundry list of ailments, from rheumatism to whiny children. Visitors from as far as Chicago would come and stay for several days to soak up the health benefits of the spring water.

Eventually the spring fell out of use, and the land was mostly forgotten, used only once in a while for picnics and retreats. In 1946, the Chamberlin family gave the land to Beloit College for educational and recreational purposes. Today, Chamberlin Springs is the site of many field trips and research projects, from animal behavior observation to cataloging of geological features.

Get there: To get to Chamberlin Springs, take Madison Road (Highway 213 West) out to Woodman’s, take a left on West Spring Creek Road, and follow it approximately 1.5 miles to about the 4000 address mark. The entrance is an unmarked footpath.