Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

Sandy Griswold. August 28, 1910. Omaha Sunday World-Herald 45(48): 7-N. Forest Field and Stream.

An Old Day Legend of the Curo Springs

Fountains of Health to the Early Settlers and the Red Men.

A Story Handed Down by the Late Lamented Dr. Link.

Noting the wondrous changes that have been wrought in this section of Nebraska in the last half century, reminds me of a particularly interesting legend of the early days, it is told by the late, lamented Dr. Link, the agriculturist sage and philosopher, to the writer, some years ago, about the history of Curo Springs, located in the deep ravine on Nineteenth street in South, Omaha, and which are supplying today thousands of the citizens of Omaha and the middle west with the purest and grandest drinking water on earth. This water is bottled and barreled in vast quantities daily by the Curo Bottling company, of which the Honorable Richard O'Keefe is the guiding star.

But it is not of the great traffic in this splendid water that is carried on today, that this little tale has bearing. Dr. Link knew these springs, - there are several of them, bubbling out of the western acclivity of the ravine above mentioned - more than half a century ago, when they were known to the sorely pressed and thinly scattered white settlers of the region, as the Medicine Springs, and to the Indians before them, as Oowanoos, which means in pure Otoe, the Springs of Eternal Life.

Dr. Link resided, up to the day of his death, a year or so ago, on the old farmstead, a few miles from Millard, and he told me that many was the trip, then a long and arduous one, over the wild prairie and through the woody tangles, he had made to the Curo Springs, for their water, when there was sickness or ailing in the family.

There were no more picturesque characters in the state than Dr. Link. A polished and educated gentleman, a physician of high standing, and a lovely character in all the details of his make up.

His lore of the early days in this state was exhaustless, and we was never so contented as when disseminating it. Dr. Link belonged to that type of men who find their best recreations in the open. In him were combined the practical sportsman, the poet and the willing laborer, and in his conversation were heard mingled the simple wisdom of the one with the sensitiveness of the other, to the beauties and subtle influences of nature. These qualities extended his sympathetic audience and endeared him to widely different personalities, by which he is not likely to soon be forgotten. Ever alert to the business of his several callings, he always had a quick eye for nature's entrancements, a soul tender to her smallest charms. As keen as a fox on the trail of its prey, and as wise as the red men in wood and prairie craft, yet he had a childlike love for the humblest wild flower that bloomed beside his narrow pathway, in the early wilds of Douglas county.

He had an especial liking for the memory of the Curo Springs, and always, when in Omaha, and he was here frequently, he drank nothing but this delicious water, and while sipping it was ever wont to revert to the days when they were known as Medicine Springs, and still further back as Oowanoos, the fountains of aboriginal life.

So far reaching was the fame of the Curo Springs fifty and sixty years ago, said Dr. Link, that people assembled there regularly every fall and spring from the country for a hundred miles round about, scores coming across the turgid Missouri river in their crude boats, for a supply of this water, which was almost hallowed for its wonderful curative worth. They would haul it away in as large quantities as their limited means in those primitive times would permit, and often at the entailment of no little privation and expense, Dr. Link always kept Curo water in his house, not only in those trying days of old lang syne, when he had to transport it personally on horseback from the little dark ravine down in what is now the city of South Omaha, but still a semblance of its former wild self, to his cabin on the prairies eighteen miles or more to the west, but up to the day of his demise, after the water had become a commercial commodity and was on the market everywhere.

He told of an old Indian tradition, where, on the bluffs near Bellevue, a battle had been fought between the Otoes and the Pawnees, and after it was over, and the hostile forces gone, an Indian maiden found her lover, a stalwart young Pawnee, hovering on the verge of death with a flint-headed arrow buried in his chest. How by that untutored intuition, always a mystery to savants of learning and science, she had, by the wild surgery known only to her tribe, extracted the deadly shaft from the brave's bosom, and just as he fell back fainting he whispered the magical word:


The maiden knew what this meant, and hurriedly improvising a bed of leaves for her dying lover, she darted away like a bird upon the wing. It was a long and devious way, some eight or nine miles up from the Bellevue bluffs to the dark little ravine in which gushed, from their rocky crypts amid the ferns, the waters the dying Pawnee craved. But wit the unerring scent of the hound on the trail, the Indian girl reached the spot, and from the skin wammus that encased her body, she fashioned a water bag, scooped it full of the precious liquid, and when the red sun was dropping behind the western horizon, was again at the side of her wounded sweetheart.

It is needless to say what the reader has already guessed, that the water from the Medicine Springs, the crystal, life-infusing liquid of Oowanoos, restored the young Pawnee and that a wedding followed in the golden fall, and that he became a chief among his kind, and she a princess among her's, and that they both lived long to tell the marvelous tale to their children's children, of how the water of the Curo Springs had glorified them in the days of the long ago.