Surrounded by the 56-acre Dykeman Park, Dykeman’s Spring has provided fresh water to local residents, to include Native Americans, for centuries. The spring, ponds and the land surrounding it have been home to trout and watercress farms and a dairy farm with associated creamery. It features a large manor house, hatch house, culvert system, two archaeological sites, over 3 miles of trails, picnic areas and a baseball field and many people come to feed the fish and ducks who reside in and around the ponds. It was named for George Dykeman who purchased the property in 1870, expanded the manor house and built the hatch house in 1871. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.
first European settlers arrived in 1730 they found the land around the spring
occupied by members of the Delaware tribe which is why it is sometimes referred
to as Indian Springs. The Natives were
permitted to remain, for a time, when the spring and surrounding land was
purchased by John Reynolds in 1735. The
land changed hands many times in subsequent years until Edward Scull purchased
it and built the original manor house near the spring c. 1855. And this is what 20,000 Confederate troops, under
the command of General Ewell found when they camped near the spring in late-June
of 1863 as they thought they were on their way to Harrisburg, but ended up at a
sleepy little town called Gettysburg a few days later.
Dykeman purchased the land in 1870 and promptly built the hatch house and
remodeled and expanded the manor house. The
remodeled house was now of the Italian villa style and featured a new hip roof
that was topped by a six-foot square cupola.
Dykeman also doubled its size to eleven rooms. The two-story limestone hatch house is
surrounded by water on three sides and was used to raise trout hatchlings. Water from the spring actually flowed through
it and some was diverted to small hatchling ponds. However, the fish farm did not prove to be profitable
and was abandoned by 1877.
used the land to raise dairy cattle, cultivate a fruit orchard, and quarry
stone and the ponds to grow watercress. He
also opened a creamery on the property in 1882.
He is generally credited with revealing to others the viability of dairy
farming and the area soon became dominated by dairy cows and farms and still is
to this day. Dykeman was also
instrumental in founding the Cumberland Valley State Normal School, now known
as Shippensburg University. Despite his
many ventures, Dykeman fell into financial difficulties and his land was sold
to Frank Dennis at sheriff’s auction in 1895.
He died in Shippensburg in 1912.
the land and structures passed through various owners and the hatch house was
severely damaged by fire in 1918. The
spring and some of the surrounding land was purchased by the borough in 1968 as
a source of water after a severe drought in 1966. The manor house fell into disrepair until it
was purchased and restored by Earl and Eddy Parshall in 1994 who later
converted it into a bed and breakfast.
The borough gradually expanded their purchase into the 56-acre park that
one can still visit today.