- Photo of the Nippersink Creek circa 1910 from the Blivin Street Bridge, 2. "The beautiful Nippersink at Colemar" circa 1935, 3. Cows by the creek circa 1907-1915
The Nippersink Creek gently flows through town, zigzagging on its way to the Fox River. For thousands of years the creek has provided food, water, transportation, power, and recreation to all sorts of life.
"Nippersink" was derived from an old Native American name. In 1872, R. Crosby of Richmond, who spent a lot of time with the Native Americans and understood their language well, said it was a corruption of the word Ni-bish-ing, (with the accent on the second syllable) meaning "the place of small waters". In fact, research backs his assessment. The Ottawas called all small inland lakes, "nish" or "nibishing". Neversink was an earlier pronunciation of the original word, according to folklore.
In 1843, a gristmill was built on the banks of the Nippersink by Joseph Blivin to grind wheat and barley into flour, thus saving local farmers a wagon trip of many days. The mill was in operation until 1882. For 38 years, Spring Grove was also known as Bliven's Mills.
In the early 1900s some worried that a town divided by a creek could never prosper. For many years, the business district south of the creek was called Sunnyside and the part of town north of the creek was called Shadyside.
In 1905, Howard Churchill drowned "while bathing" in the creek. He had "been unable to swim across the creek as he had undertaken to do, and sank." His brothers and friends tried to save him. He was born in 1887 and was 17 years old. He had four sisters and three brothers.
Jean Miller Green remembered in the 1920s she would sit on the banks and fish for dinner, lamenting that the fish she caught were very bony.
In 1937, the illegal still that was set up in the old Wieland Dairy Building used the old drainage system for for the dairy, pouring out the waste products from the distillery into the Nippersink. The joke in town after the still was raided was everyone wanted to go fishing to catch drunk fish.
In 1938, a great storm caused the creek to overflow its banks. The newspapers reported, “Old Devil’s Bridge went out so the only way for anyone to get from the south side of town to the north side was by going by way of Solon Mills, taking ten miles to get there.”
In the 1900s, kids would skate on the frozen Nippersink in the winters and swim in the summer while cows waded in the water right next to them.
At one time, the fire department would draft water from the creek for use in putting out fires.
These days, the creek is mostly used by people in canoes and kayaks enjoying the natural beauty of the area.