The Council Spring is among several springs along Monroe Street and one of the dozen or so active springs around Lake Wingra. It is a rare survivor of the 30 or more natural springs that once provided fresh water to Native Americans and that greeted European settlers in the early 1800’s. Council Spring flows year round at an average rate of 221 gallons per minute.
Council Spring rises from a rock outcrop below the Kenneth Jensen Wheeler Council Ring, for which it is named. From there the Council Spring joins the nearby Dancing Sands Spring and flows onto Lake Wingra.
The origins of the Kenneth Jensen Wheeler Council Ring are described in the book “A Thousand Ages, The University of Wisconsin Arboretum” (1974 by Nancy Sachse). ” . . . the Kenneth Jensen Wheeler Council Ring was named for a young landscape architecture student who died on the eve of his graduation. The limestone ring was designed by Kenneth’s grandfather, Jens Jensen, creator of the Clearing is Ellison Bay, Door County. . .” (page 48). According to William H. Tishler’s book, “Jens Jensen, Writings Inspired by Nature” (p. XXVI. 2012 Wisconsin Historical Society Press) Kenneth Jensen Wheeler died in 1934.
According to Sachse the council ring was built in 1938 with labor supervised by, and much of the stone work done by, Kenneth’s father, Edison Wheeler. The ring was ” . . . dedicated in a simple, moving ceremony the Sunday of graduation week.” (p. 48).