This longtime Abilene business actually began in the small Dickinson County town of Belle Springs, a community settled by River Brethren families from Pennsylvania. The original creamery was developed for the purpose of manufacturing butter. In 1892, a new creamery was built outside of Abilene in Prospect Park. The large brick creamery that is pictured here was built in 1902 in Abilene close to the original location of the Drover’s Cottage, Abilene’s largest hotel during the cattle town days. The Belle Springs Creamery produced ice and many dairy products, including butter, cheese, and ice cream. The David and Ida Eisenhower family moved to Abilene due to David acquiring employment at the creamery. He would hold a position there for over twenty years. His son Dwight, future General and President, also worked for the Belle Springs Creamery before leaving Abilene to begin his military career.
As a third generation Abilene photographer and local historian, Bill Jeffcoat wrote many notes about buildings such as the Belle Springs Creamery. Here are Jeffcoat’s thoughts on the creamery and the nearby Abilene Natatorium:
“For years and years on top of the [Belle Springs Creamery] building was a large steam whistle that blew from steam produced by the boilers. It was blown at seven in the morning, noon, one in the afternoon, and then again at six. It was installed in 1903 and was discontinued in 1938 as an economy move!
“In days gone by (the 1930s), Abilene had build what was called a natatorium–a sort of boxed in swimming pool which was a block or two from the creamery. When the water needed to be changed–this before the days of chemicals–the creamery piped in its hot and warm water for the refilling. Newt Currier ran a sort of boys summer sports program and on the morning of warm fresh water, would take them there and let them swim. Oh my, the activity was outstanding, diving and swimming in hot water! The creamery had to blow out their hot water somewhere and the boys had to blow off their energy, and it was a perfect combination for the depression days.”