20211009-LOC-local history

The Pack Monadnock Lithia Spring in Temple.

Sidney Scammon opened the Pack Monadnock Lithia Spring in Temple during the year 1891. He set up a spring-house and began to sell bottles of the water.

The water was advertised as the most “wonderful Natural Lithia Spring Water known in the world.” Because of the high concentration of lithium and other elements, the water was proclaimed to be the best remedy for kidney trouble and indigestion. It was also advertised as therapeutic for rheumatism, eczema, diabetes and Bright’s Disease.

The park became a popular recreation area for local residents. Scammon built a picnic area, playground, bandstand and ballfield at the spring and invited the public to use the facilities. The spring became famous, and wagonloads of bottled lithia water were hauled to local railroad stations and shipped throughout the country. Scammon and his partner, his uncle Rodney Killam, a life-long resident of Temple, were looked upon as leading citizens of the town.

A 1904 newspaper report indicated that Killam was unusually busy filling orders for the water. The reporter went on to proclaim that the spring was one of “Temple’s greatest attractions.”

The spring flourished for 20 years. In 1911, however, someone discovered that Scammon was buying large supplies of lithium on a regular basis. It suddenly became clear that the “wonderful Natural Lithia Spring Water” was not natural after all. Scammon had actually been mixing it!

When the news of the deception became known, Scammon and Uncle Rodney Killam, now 83 years old, were forced to leave town in a hurry. They quickly moved to Malden, Mass. The spring was sold to a local lumber company, the trees in the park were removed, and the Pack Monadnock Lithia Spring ceased to exist.

Alan F. Rumrill is executive director of the Historical Society of Cheshire County, which has been collecting, preserving and sharing the history of the region since 1927. It’s on Main Street. To learn more about its public programs and collections, visit hsccnh.org.