That hasn’t kept a few locals with connections to the small community from preserving the legacy of Trigg County’s second-oldest natural landmark.
In July 2006, an effort spearheaded by Wallace Blakeley resulted in the unveiling of a roadside historical marker near the spring, which is still active. The liquid produced there inspired Cerulean’s most recognized moniker, coined many years ago by Cadiz Record columnist Sally Graham Stice – The Land of the Sky Blue Water.
“People are not as interested in this spring as they should be,” Blakeley said.
Blakeley is a descendent of Jesse Goodwin, who acquired the first deed for the spring in 1806. Subsequent owners of the spring and adjoining land advertised the medicinal value of the spring’s water and eventually made it a destination for vacationers.
The Cerulean Springs Hotel enjoyed its peak in popularity from the early 1880s until the early 1920s, when automobiles became more widely used.
“It was the Lake Barkley Lodge of the 19th century,” said William Turner, retired history professor and regional historian.
During that time, the hotel boasted 72 rooms, served three meals a day and featured a 350-acre working farm with poultry, livestock and vegetables.
Then, at sundown on Aug. 29, 1925, a fire began in a basement stove used to heat water for baths. An hour later, the hotel was gone.
Today, the spring remains as a monument to Cerulean’s past, and Blakeley wants to make sure that past isn’t lost. His work to erect the historical marker gained traction when he contacted Turner.
The two received donations from local curches and individuals to rebuild the spring house, and additional materials were provided at no charge. Former Trigg County Judge-Executive Berlin Moore and Cadiz Mayor Lyn Bailey donated tools and manpower for cleaning.
“We wanted it to look like it did originally, as close as we could duplicate it,” Turner said. “Maintenance of the spring is an ongoing process. Every time it floods, Muddy Fork overflows, fills it up and leaves a deposit of mud.”
Since then, Blakeley said, maintenance has been done periodically by former Cerulean residents Mike McGill and Terry Stevens. Materials were donated by David Kyler of Kyler Bridge Co. in Cadiz to restore the concrete floor, which began to buckle after the spring house was rebuilt. Turner said Cerulean Volunteer Fire Department has also helped keep the spring clean. The spring is located on land currently owned by Jerry Cortner, who Turner said allows them access.
“Wallace and I work on a wing and a prayer to keep the spring house up, so the donated materials and funds are greatly appreciated,” Turner said. “We feel an obligation to keep it preserved, and the public has generally been very respectful of it.”
Also in 2006, Turner and Ladonna Dixon Anderson co-authored “Cerulean Springs and the Springs of Western Kentucky,” which was published by Arcadia Publishing (www.arcadiapublishing.com).
Blakeley said anyone interested in making a monetary donation should ask about the Cerulean Springs Hotel Marker Fund at Bank of Cadiz.