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Page 10 NEWFOUNDLAKELIFE.COM August 2022 Community
 Breck-Plankey Spring: Discovering Living Water
By William nieman
A resource is something useful and valuable. This story is about two of the earth’s vital resources. One is water, arguably the earth’s most precious commodity. And the other is human beings, per- haps our planet’s most complex and controversial resource. I fre- quent a place where these two entities come together every day, the Breck-Plankey Spring, about a mile north of Bristol’s Central Square on the west side of Route 3A. Here, visitors draw clear, pure, “sweet” water and sponta- neously work out ways to share access to this coveted resource. What follows is a narrative of how the spring was rediscovered in 1981 and why and how people use it today.
Mason Westfall was a skilled and busy carpenter. He gave his talent to numerous community organizations in Bristol, Bridge- water, Alexandria, and beyond in his spare time. He also used “spare time” as a favorite recre-
ational activity, driving around and scouting out what was tak- ing place on the highways and byways in the Newfound Region. One of his favorite ploys was to “forget” an important tool or piece of lumber. Then, off he went in his blue Toyota pickup.
Fortunately, for those of us who enjoy the Breck-Plankey Spring, on one November day in 1981, Mason, driving north on 3A just past the Millstream snack bar, spied a large granite water trough on the hillside west of the road. Soon, the blonde- haired, blue-eyed young man in his mid-thirties
was climbing the hill and ex- ploring the area around the dark stone artifact. Near the trough, he saw what appeared to be a rot- ting wood cover for something in the ground. Lifting the cover, he revealed a basin of clear water. Bubbles were rising from white sand which covered the floor of the basin. An abandoned spring had been rediscovered.
One of Mason Westfall’s com- munity activities was to chair Bristol’s Conservation Commis- sion. A year after the spring’s discovery, Mason urged the Commission to bring the spring to the town by moving the trough down to 3A and running a pipe from the spring to that site. (In- terestingly, the trough was actu- ally being returned close to its original location dating back to those days before a paved Route 3A.) Paul and Ann Plankey, own- ers of the spring, gave permission for its use as a public resource.
Leslie Breck, owner of the road- side site, donated that land to the town. The task of moving the trough must have presented quite a spectacle with Herbert “Squire” Robie managing his team of oxen (Ted and Jack by name) as they pushed against collars hitched to hame straps to dislodge the granite edifice and drag it down the hill.
I had the opportunity (a plea- surable one) to visit with and in- terview many of those who, these days, take advantage of the proj-
ect Mason Westfall undertook and maintained for many years. These folks come in all sizes, shapes, and ages, arriving from distant places and close by. Some arrive before dawn or after dark to avoid waiting in line. Others don’t mind a chance to socialize during the mid-day rush. Here are some of the anecdotes they shared with me.
One couple was filling 15 individual gallon containers. I asked why so many, and they said they were going to be in Col- orado for a week and wanted to be sure they had good drinking water. Imagine that...Colorado, an iconic home of pure moun- tain water. When I mentioned this to a subsequent visitor, she expressed indifference and noted that Coors, for all the advertising about its pristine water, wasn’t such a good beer. Another couple was stocking up for a trip to Flor- ida and wasn’t about to drink the
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