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You ask Youker: How did Sinking Spring get its name?

You Ask Youker is a weekly feature providing answers to quirky curiosities of the Berks County area.

Q: How did Sinking Spring get its name?

Take a drive through the center of Sinking Spring, where Route 724 and Penn Avenue come together in a bustling, congested intersection.

Look around. Sinking Spring's history is right underfoot.

It's pretty easy to miss, but right between a shuttered bank and a Dunkin' Donuts on Penn Avenue is a small spring.

This place, once a valuable source of water for Lenape Indians and early farmers in the region, is the namesake for Sinking Spring.

The spring is in an area that resembles a ditch, and a small run was built to direct water under Penn Avenue. The flow eventually ends up in the Cacoosing Creek.

Water can no longer be seen flowing above ground. During a recent visit, the area appeared more like the remains of an old well than a mountain spring.

But somewhere underground is the famed sinking spring, said Paul Miller, president of the Sinking Spring Area Historical Society.

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The water source was important to early settlers, he said. Property deeds from the late 1700s and early 1800s reflect grazing rights for cattle, and the Indians certainly knew about this natural resource.

A community grew around the spot, and both Sinking Spring and Spring Township got their names from the source of water.

"This spot was key to the whole area," Miller said.

During dry periods in late summer, the spring would run underground or stop flowing, Miller explained. And because of the number of fissures in the underlying limestone, the spring would disappear from time to time, hence the name Sinking Spring.

Miller surmises that development and private well drilling has disrupted the water table and forced the spring farther underground. Sinking Spring officials now are considering a revitalization project for the center of town. One idea involves realigning some intersections to eliminate traffic tie-ups.

As part of that project, the borough wants to ensure that the land around the spring is preserved as a small park, Miller said.

It is an important step to ensure that future generations know the story behind Sinking Spring.

"This is the namesake for the entire town," Miller said. "We need to preserve that."

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