In this catalog of springs, I hadn't planned on including any on privately owned land; but Tanyard Spring is on a private resort, so if you rent a cabin, you can get to the spring. The other way to get to the springhouse is to visit the office during the off-season in the middle of the week when things are slow and ask to visit the spring. The resort is gated, but they'll let non-guest visitors in if circumstances permit. They lent me a key and let me go in unescorted.

The spring isn't set up to produce drinking water. There is no filtration or UV treatment, but the spring is housed in a locked, screened-in gazebo. The flow has been mechanically slowed to a trickle which feeds a small pond through a PVC pipe. Because it isn't treated as potable water I assume it doesn't have the health department seal of approval; but I drank some and it was mighty tasty. I have to give it an "A" rating, right up there with Mountain Valley. Back at around the turn of the century this water was bottled and sold (according to the brochure), and on my way out I suggested that they should bottle some if only for the guests.

Near the spring are several tanning pits used to prepare hides. One has been restored to its original condition, squared and lined with flagstones. Other more vague depressions are marked with posts. This "tanning yard" suggests the origin of the name of the spring. The land here was once owned by a man of German extraction named Robert Webber, who had two slaves, one a tanner and one a cobbler. These pits are the remains of that shoemaking operation.

The USGS recognizes Tanyard Spring as being over a hundred miles away, though, between Alpena and Green Forest. Seems likely to me that the owner once upon a time heard the name, liked it, and tacked it onto his own enterprise.

Now for an unsolicited testimonial. Tanyard Spring Settlement is the best place I have ever seen to get that bucolic, cozy cabin-tucked-away-in-a-quilt-green-forest experience. The resort is on top of Petit Jean, so you have access to all the state park facilities -- tennis, pool, lakefront, hiking trails, pavilions, and so on; but the cabins are widely separated and the "village" (13 cabins) is gated so you avoid the tightly packed environment of the state park campgrounds. The cabins are downright luxurious, complete with well-appointed kitchens. Of course, you pay out the ziz for that kind of privacy and luxury. A double-occupancy cabin goes for $150 a night, but this is most certainly a type-B island in a type-A world. The brochure says the place was created by a psychologist, not a businessman.

Tanyard Spring Village is on top of Petit Jean Mountain, highway 154, ten miles east of Oppelo.

Thanks to Doug Carter of Petit Jean State Park for history on Webber's Tanyard.


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