Virtual Tour Ranch House Spring Room

The Spring Room

(Taken from The Good Old Days, The Spring House, R.J. McGinnis, F. & W. Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, page 76.)

"Pioneers looked for a spring and built their homes near it. It kept their thirst (and that of their animals) satisfied and their food from spoiling. It was the only refrigeration known for years. Usually a house or building was built over the spring out of rock and a tree was planted near the door. A stone trough was built in the spring house. Through it ran cold, slow flowing spring water. Earthenware crocks of milk were placed, neck deep, in the water. It was always cool in the spring house, even in the warmest of days. A gourd dipper hung in the spring house so men coming in from the hot field could stop for a draft of cold water. The dog quenched his thirst from the overflow at the back of the spring house and a flock of ducks noisily investigated the trickling stream for tidbits. Watercress grew in the shallows."

tunnel to spring room
View of tunnel leading to the spring room from the old kitchen area

Modern Refrigeration - 1880s Style

Photo showing the interior tunnel entrance leading from the original kitchen to the spring room. The screen door (black, narrow object) was added by Erma Slabaugh to check for snakes before entering the tunnel. The shower was added for ranchhands to clean up before the noon meal. One of the shower heads can be seen directly to the left of the lightbulb.

View within the spring room showing water collection trough that was used to cool perishables

Photo of the spring room interior. Originally, Mr. Jones piped spring water through the kitchen, down the tunnel, and into the spring room where it collected in a trough. The directed and constant flowing cool, underground spring water encircled crocks filled with milk, butter, and cheese, keeping the food at a consistent temperature.

After encircling the room, this "used" spring water exited the spring room via a narrow interior trough and collected in an underground cistern located to the east of the spring room.

During the early 20th century, the springs stopped flowing at their original rate and it was no longer a viable cooling solution.However, even with no cool spring water, the room is still much cooler than the outside summertime temperatures.

The view is looking back into the tunnel between the spring room and the kitchen. Notice the crock sitting in the trough. The spring house was similar to our walk-in refrigerators and is still used today in some parts of the country.

old photo of spring room
Historic photo of the interior of the spring room showing rubble floor and deteriorated condition of barrel shaped ceiling

This photo was taken in 1935. The original spring room floor was soil and stone. Sometime in history it was replaced with a concrete floor.

spring house exterior door
Modern view of the original entrance to the tunnel from the kitchen to the spring room

Photo showing the original entrance to the spring room before the interior tunnel was built. Sometime during occupancy, Mr. Jones installed a tunnel from the kitchen to the spring room. The doorway was still employed to bring in garden produce. From the 1887 lithograph, there appears to be a tower placed directly above the doorway with a window or skylight near the top.

Last updated: October 20, 2021

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2480B KS Hwy 177
Strong City , KS 66869


620 273-8494 x270

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