Notes on the Belle Springs Creamery and Abilene Natatorium

Belle Springs CreameryThis 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.”


Comments

  1. Is there any information about Robert Koppenhaver from around 1900 who may have been a manager or employee
    of the Creamery? He was from Pennsylvania.

    • Thanks for your question, Larry. I looked through our information on the Belle Springs Creamery and haven’t found any mentions of his name. I’ll be sure to keep it in mind during future research though, and will let you know if I come up with anything.

  2. Thanks for your reply. In addition to Robert Koppenhaver, I’m looking for information about DDE when he worked in the BSC.

  3. Hello,

    Do you know, by chance, where Prospect Park is/was situated outside of Abilene? My great-grandfather, John Eby Nissley, worked at the creamery from 1886 until about 1900 prior to the erection of the 1902 building.

    Thank you,
    Rosalyn Bellis
    Alexandria VA

    • Hi Rosalyn,

      Prospect Park was located southeast of Chapman and has been named to the National Register of Historical Places and the was the first site in Dickinson County to received this honor. This farm went on to be owned by Mr. and Mrs. Paul Taylor and in 1982, had been in the family for over 100 years. It is now owned by Dale and Sonya Anders. I do have some more information on it and would be more than happy to send it to you. I will also drop you an e-mail. Thanks so much for inquiring about this.

  4. Amy,

    Thanks for the reply. For some reason I assumed that it would be right outside Abilene’s city limits…that they would have situated the new plant even closer to Abilene than it had been in Belle Springs. I would guess that the creamery in Prospect Park no longer exists.

    Rosalyn

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