Monadnock Moments No. 4: The West Keene Mineral Spring

When we think of mineral springs, Saratoga Springs in New York and similar famous spas come to mind.  These springs enjoyed considerable popularity and became well known tourist attractions during the 19th century because of the supposed medicinal qualities of their water.
Keene also had a mineral spring, however, which gained considerable fame approximately 140 years ago.  Joseph Brown advertised in the Keene Sentinel in May of 1859 that a mineral spring “possessing powerful medicinal properties” had recently been discovered on his land in West Keene.  Brown claimed that the water from the spring had cured the ills of poison dogwood, poison ivy, sore eyes, chilblains, tuberculosis, skin diseases, indigestion, and other ailments.
At about this time, testimonials from people who had used the water began to appear in the newspapers.  Mrs. Charles Parker attributed her recovery from tuberculosis and sick headaches to her use of the water.  The Reverend T. H. Duncan of Roxbury stated that after using eight gallons of the water, 42 years of chronic indigestion as well as pain from a diseased liver were almost completely removed.
Mr. Brown apparently did a good business for a while as he built a spring house for the benefit of his customers and bottled the West Keene mineral spring water and shipped it to other towns by rail and stage.
Shortly after the Civil War, however, mineral springs began to decline in popularity.  It was not long before Mr. Brown’s spring had closed.  The spring house was moved to a nearby farm for use as an ice house and today there is no trace of the once popular West Keene Mineral Spring.