Indian Spring At The Foot Of Missionary Ridge Still Feeds Citico Creek

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The wide-mouthed Citico Creek has an inauspicious beginning at Indian Spring at the foot of Missionary Ridge.

The spring - that is just to the left of the entrance to NHC Chattanooga across Glenwood Drive from Memorial Hospital - still puts out a steady flow. It is unmarked and overgrown, but still drawing on a steady unseen stream from the side of the Ridge.

The small creek it creates is one of two branches forming Citico Creek, whose mouth on the Tennessee River is the intake point for the city of Chattanooga's water supply.

In the pioneer days, natives used the spring as an important water supply - one of a string of five or six along the length of the base of Missionary Ridge near Chattanooga. Near the mouth of Citico Creek was an important Indian village, and one of the stockades for the Indian Removal in 1838 was nearby. An Indian mound is still visible where the water company has a large water storage tank.

The waters from Indian Spring originally flowed to about the center of the block bounded by Kelly and Willow and Fourth and Fifth streets, where it joined with another small stream coming down from about the junction of Kilmer Street and McCallie Avenue.

Teams of Works Progress Administration workers in the late 1930s diverted the waters of Indian Spring so they joined the other stream in front of the present Orchard Knob Elementary School instead of its old path.

The WPA crews, unfortunately, also placed much of both tributaries into stone ditches.

Having an ever-flowing stream is a bounty. Putting it in a ditch makes it sterile and devoid of any aquatic life or interest to anyone.  

A portion of the mingled waters flow freely in front of the school before crossing under Third Street and on toward the old Cincinnati Southern main line and then finally into the river. 

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