THE LEGEND OF THE THREE SPRINGS--Where rain drops falling mere inches apart--end up transported thousands of miles apart
The Legend of the Three Spring
There is a spot where rain drops falling mere inches apart—end up transported thousand of miles apart—eventually emptying into three different seas. The spot can be located on Professor Higbee’s Stream and Lake Map of Pennsylvania.
On a farm in Potter County, Pennsylvania, you’ll find three springs which are the rare convergence point for three primary watershed boundaries. Watershed boundaries are located on the tops of mountains and hills. It’s where water flows in one direction or the other, forming watershed basins, which appear on Professor Higbee’s maps as green lines. The thicker lines represent primary watershed boundaries, which contain thinner secondary boundary lines.
Larry Seaman and Karl Ings are map makers and the publishers of Professor Higbee’s Stream and Lake Maps—highly detailed waterway maps. One day, Seaman and Ings decided to go for a ride and explore the unusual spot shown on the map. “After driving in circles for at least an hour, we located the farm at the end of a gravel road on top of a mountain in northern Pennsylvania. Yes, even mapmakers get lost occasionally,” Ings said.
On this remote farm, Seaman and Ings found the three springs to be less than a thousand yards apart. But, each spring forms the headwaters for a small stream that empties into other small streams. The small streams then empty into creeks, which flow into major rivers and eventually empty into one of three seas. Even the smallest of streams are shown on Professor Higbee’s Stream & Lake Maps.
The eastern most spring becomes Pine Creek, which drains into the Susquehanna River emptying into the Chesapeake Bay, then the Atlantic Ocean.
A little to the north is a spring that gives birth to the Genesee River, flowing north through New York to Lake Ontario, which flows into the Saint Lawrence River before it enters the North Atlantic Ocean.
The third spring is a short walk to the west. It is the headwaters for the Allegheny River flowing past Pittsburgh on its way to the Ohio River then the Mississippi River which makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico.
In walking between the springs Seaman and Ings realized that there is a high spot in the middle of the pasture between where the three springs rise. It’s the spot where the three primary watershed boundaries converge down to one square foot of real estate. Standing near the spot, Seaman said he envisioned the three imaginary major watershed boundary lines. “If the spot were located on a manicured golf green—not a pasture, and if a golf ball were dropped on the spot, it would roll in the direction of one of the three springs.”
Rain drops falling on the same spot a few inches apart would eventually merge into one of the three springs. But, the rain drops would end up thousands of miles apart—before emptying into one of three different seas.
Long ago, Native Americans were also aware of just how special this spot is. Totally in touch with their surroundings, before aerial and satellite photography, before modern methods of cartography—they had it figured out. “The Legend of the Three Springs” is described in a book: Black Forest Souvenirs, first published in 1914 by Henry Shoemaker. “There dwelt on one of the highest mountains in the Seneca country, a wise and learned Native American named Nahimen, or ‘Sailor-Down-The-Stream.’ He was gifted with the power of second sight. He saw so acutely into the future that it often caused him much pain.”
“Nahimen was especially saddened when he foresaw the future of his three beautiful daughters. They were to fall in with evil associates and become corrupted. He found a shaman that told him the only way to save his daughters from their fate was to change them into three rivers—flowing on practically forever—providing comfort for untold numbers of beings. So it was done. Nahimen found the three springs nearby, sweet and pure. When he bent over each spring he saw the faces of his daughters reflected in their liquid depths. He eventually died as he lay in his lodge upon buffalo hides listening to the three streams as they bubbled over mossy rocks on their way down the mountain. He was buried at the highest point between where the three springs rise.”
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