Wisconsin Historical Society

National or State Registers Record

Approx. 80 meters S of Spring Pond Rd.

National or State Register of Historic Places
Approx. 80 meters S of Spring Pond Rd. | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Otter Spring House
Reference Number:99000684
Location (Address):Approx. 80 meters S of Spring Pond Rd.
Otter Spring House
Town of Lincoln, Forest County
Builders: CCC Company 649 Camp
Date of Construction: 1933

The Otter Spring house was built to protect the spring from contamination and backflow and to facilitate its everyday use as a water source for drinking and cooking. The spring water was also used in events of Native American cultural and religious significance. Enactment of the Conservation Work Program in 1933 provided funding to conserve natural forests and their surroundings. As a result the Civilian Conservation Corps formed Waubikon Lake Camp at Otter Spring. They constructed the house in an attempt to use the spring as their primary source of water, but it proved unable to provide for the more than 200 inhabitants of the camp.

The 12 foot by 8 foot structure is constructed of 6 inch cedar logs closely joined together by saddle notches. A low doorway that is 4 feet in height serves as the only opening. The interior has a 1 foot drop from the threshold to the floor. The floor consists of fine gravel that would allow the spring water to flow. A floor constructed of cedar slats was once suspended above it. There are low benches along the interior set above the spring openings to allow for access.

Although the Potawatomi community in Forest County used Otter Spring prior to the construction of the Spring House, they later used the house for spiritual purposes. Water for ritual feasts was expected to come from springs. The spring is known to the Potawatomi as "living waters." They believe the purity of spring water is equal to the earth giving birth and therefore when drawing water from a spring, they include a prayer of thanks and an offering of tobacco to the spirit associated with the spring.

The property is still used as a ceremonial site for the Potawatomi.

Period of Significance:1925-1949
Area of Significance:Ethnic Heritage/Native American
Applicable Criteria:Event
Historic Use:Domestic: Camp
Architectural Style:Other
Resource Type:Building
Architect:CCC Company 649
Historic Status:Listed in the National Register
Historic Status:Listed in the State Register
National Register Listing Date:06/03/1999
State Register Listing Date:01/06/1999
Number of Contributing Buildings:1
Number of Contributing Sites:0
Number of Contributing Structures:0
Number of Contributing Objects:0
Number of Non-Contributing Sites:0
Number of Non-Contributing Structures:0
Number of Non-Contributing Objects:0
National Register and State Register of Historic Places, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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