A spring is defined as water overflowing from an aquifer. In this particular spring, the water underground is clear, but turns yellow when it hits the air. The iron in the water becomes rust when exposed to air, and turns into the well-known yellowish orange color that gave Yellow Springs its name. Experts theorize the water may run through an iron deposit underground (called a vugg) or the geology of the area could just contain excess iron.
Not everything about this scenic spot is so natural. Originally, the spring bubbled up from the ground, leaving leaves and grass orange in its wake. Locals placed the rocks, which over time and due to erosion, created a natural looking setting for the spring.
Advertisements in the 1800s purported the healing power of this yellow water, promising to cure any ill. A resort was built on the land, complete with a ‘water cure’ spa.
Tecumseh, leader of the Shawnees, was believed to have visited the local spring for its healing power as well. Other leaders, such as Blue Jacket, Blackhoof, Blackfish, and Little Turtle also drank from this spring. The Shawnee Nation knew the glen well, as the Cascades was somewhat of a “Lover’s Lane” for Shawnees.
The water is safe to drink, despite its extra iron and yellow color. The water may have a metallic taste to it, but will flow out at a cool 52 degrees. A local saying is that if you drink from the Yellow Spring, you’ll always come back to the area, or maybe never leave!