Formerly known at the Edgewood Big Spring or Deep Hole spring (Noland, 1951), the Cadwallader Washburn Spring is next to the Edgewood College boardwalk, along the Lake Wingra shoreline. By the 1980’s and 1990’s the spring had become overgrown with brush, forgotten, and relegated to the annals of local history, until it was “re-discovered” in about 2000 by Edgewood College biology professor, Jim Lorman. (Lorman recounts his re-discovery of Washburn spring, in a podcast for Unseen Madison.com.)
The Noland (1951) report: “The Hydrography, Fish, and Turtle Population of Lake Wingra”, is critical for anyone interested in the ecology of Lake Wingra. An undergrad at the time he wrote the report, Noland produced what is still considered one of the best natural histories of Lake Wingra.
Noland devoted several pages to active springs around Lake Wingra and a post-mortem of those that were then dry or no longer to be found.
The Lake Wingra shoreline, including The Washburn Spring, and the nearby “New Millennium Spring” formerly known as the “Big Fish Spring” (Noland, 1951) and rediscovered by Lorman in about 2000, are easily accessed from a lakeside footpath and a boardwalk installed a few years ago by Edgewood. The boardwalk makes it easy to get right down to the shoreline, provides seating areas, and wonderful views of the Lake Wingra skyline.
Car and bicycle parking and bike rentals are nearby at the intersection of Edgewood Avenue, Edgewood Drive (no cars), Vilas Park Drive and Vilas Avenue on the west side of Vilas Park.