In the early days of Bluff Park, visitors were probably seeking a cool place to vacation, clean air and, certainly, clean water. Bluff Park afforded them all of these things. A conversation in September 2012 with Tommy Tucker, longtime resident of Bluff Park, resulted in information about water and springs in the area. Most interesting were three—near the Valley Street/Shades Crest Road intersection; the area near the “Big Rock” on Shades Crest Road; and near the intersection of Valley and Park Avenue.
Tommy Tucker described a “water cave” which is still an active water source. Originating on the lip of the Crest, it is located just across the road from a house previously owned by a Mr. Chambers. This house is located behind the auto repair shop at the Shades Crest/Valley St. intersection. Mr. Chambers also built the concrete structure over the spring with bars across it to keep out animals. He worked for the Birmingham Water Works, so he knew to put in pipe and a pump to bring water into his home.
Northeast of the antique shop at the intersection of Park Avenue and Shades Crest Road is the original location of Hale springs. Not in use now and usually dry, this spring was over the lip of Shades Crest Road and near the famous “Big Rock” near the Bluff Park Hotel. Water was piped to many other houses.
The third spring is still in use, though not for drinking. Located next to the fire station and behind a white house on Park Avenue, it is now a small pond originally called “Schwab’s Pond.” Mr. Schwab, an early resident, also donated land for the first school and the first cemetery. This spring/pond, according to Tommy Tucker, was a “watering hole” for earlier visitors to the area, and may have been the most frequently used spring for those who came hiking, on horseback, or driving buggies. It may have been the original attraction for those looking for relief from the heat of the valley below.
The Bluff Park area continues to fascinate and delight residents and visitors alike. The presence of a ready water supply was certainly vital to this community. Water lines were laid to the Bluff in the early 1900s, first to the Fresh Air Farm, whose well had dried up and then to many homes on Park Avenue. — Joan Davis