The Road to Welch

To get to Welch Spring, you have to park at the canoe landing and walk about a quarter mile upstream. For the first couple of hundred yards, the trail lies right above the Current River, with a steep bank to your right which runs up to a bluff.

The entire bank above the trail, right up to the bluff, was covered with Hepatica (Hepatica americana.) They ranged in color from white through pink and all the way to purple.

About halfway to the spring, the river turns off to the west while the trail continues mostly strait on towards the spring. The bottom opens up somewhat and the slope to the left becomes wider and less steep. I have found Dog-tooth Violets (Erytgronium albidum) here in the past and was hoping to see them today. Unfortunately, there was no sign of them yet and I’ve had to resort to using a photo I took a few springs past.

I did find some Yellow Fumewort (Corydalis flavula) scattered around the river bottom

and a Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon) sitting in the trail.

And then you come to the spring itself.

Welch discharges some 75 million gallons of water per day, drawing water from the Gladden Creek basin to the east and north. The spring rises in a cave behind the ruins of the old hospital visible in the first photo, then ducks under and emerges from the base of the bluff. From there it’s over the remnants of an old rock diversion dam and into the river which doubles in size with the addition of the spring water. The hospital was built about the time of World War I in a misguided belief that cave air would be beneficial to asthma sufferers.

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