Dublin Spring Destroyed

by Edward Graf
From the Passaic County Historical Society Publication, 1935

Federici -2013066One of the meeting places of old Paterson was around what was called Big Spring, later Dublin Spring, near the corner of Oliver and Mill Streets.  People came a long way to get water at Dublin Spring.  The men would come up from the locomotive and other shops, filling their kegs with the clear sparkling water for the workers at their daily toils.

How It Happened

In 1856, the spring was plugged and a pump was put in its place, the low ground about the spring was filled in on the grading of the streets.

The following account was written at the time of installing the pump in August 1856:

Yes, readers and sleepy denizens of the city, Dublin Spring, one of the landmarks of the town is destroyed at last.  Its mystic waters are heard no more as they ripple under the big flat stones, which whilom formed the pathway to the ever-living fountain.  No more will be seen the youth and the aged stepping down to the pool of clarified health and happiness and bring back a bucket full to the brim of the same.  No more will little boys and girls wash their feet in its waters for confirmation or slop from their big wooden pails as they go up and down stairs.  No more will its enchanted virtues force all who drink of its waters to return to and die in Paterson, as of yore.  No more will its Green Irish witches dance like Dutch blue devils up and down the stone steps at midnight, foretelling death within the block and wailing up food for the tomb.

Ah! Dublin Spring, thou art gone at last, Thy patrons have fought, bled and died for thee under General Beaumont, full many a time, before the common council.  They have quarreled for thy sake in committee – they have voted for thee at the polls – thou hast been the grand Sumnum Bonum of the people of Dublin and the country round about.

But Alas, thou art a spring no longer.  A huge cylinder has been thrust into thy bowels and now a piston rod is hammering continually into your vitals, mercilessly drawing the very water of life from thy buried remains.  Yes, an ignoble pump has gotten upon the station where thou hast so long held indisputable sway, and the “Chug! Chug! Is heard where before the music of the rippling streamlet was paramount.

Changes in Place

The place has lost its identity.  The Beaumont house is no longer where it once stood.  The corners have all disappeared as though swallowed by an earthquake, no longer can one recognize the place without a guide to point out the spot where Catalonia once stood.  It is gone and Dublin itself is Dublin no longer without the almost Sainted waters of Dublin Spring.  For we all know that a pump is a pump all over the world, but there is but one Dublin Spring and Saint Patrick was its Patron.

The people who get water from the pump which is now over Dublin Spring, have many of them, but a slight idea of the appearance of the place a few years ago.  The water is the same as that of the Depot Spring, as is proved because if one is stopped up the other increases its volume.  In 1812 the spring was in a hollow, the ground about there being low.  The fountain itself is about fifteen feet in diameter and the water boiling up, white clear sand coming up from the little spouting holes with the water.

Trout In Spring

There was at that time nearly a circular stone wall about it, and where it had its outlet was where the people dipped their pails.  There was at this time a number of trout in the spring, and our informant has seen a dozen at once.  Finally, the spring was arched and the street improvements, at last, covered it entirely and the place was walled up to the surface with stone steps to descent for water.  Then still later it had a railing about it.  Now  (1935) the hollow is entirely covered, nothing but a pump marks the spot where existed the famous boiling spring.  The water is the best in the country and is supposed to come from under Garret Mountain, and is always clear, sweet and cool.