The Dye Clan
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  • TR: Aug 2013

Ricks Spring

Ricks Spring emerges from the ground in an alcove at the bottom of a cliff.

Ricks Spring is a roadside attraction in Logan Canyon. At the spring are some interpretive signs to help visitors learn about the history and hydrology of Ricks Spring.

Trip Report: August 31, 2013

Thomas E. Ricks arrived in Cache Valley with his family in 1859. Between chores such as building a school and a cabin for his family, he explored Logan Canyon in search of timber. During one trek he discovered this spring which was later named for him.

Frontier communities required large quantities of timber to build churches, businesses, homes, and fences. In 1862, Thomas Ricks and other town leaders proposed building a road in Logan Canyon so that timber could be hauled to the valley. As timber supplies close to Logan were exhausted, the road was pushed further up the canyon. Brigham Young, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), recommended in 1889 that the road be completed to Bear Lake Valley. Thomas Ricks and other volunteers accepted the challenge and completed the first twenty-five miles to what is now known as Ricks Spring, before winter.

Perhaps he was looking for the best timber or other natural resources that could benefit the community, or perhaps he ...simply needed to see what was on the other side of the mountain.Joel Ricks, grandson of Thomas Ricks
Ricks Spring

For many years, Ricks Spring was believed to be pure mountain spring water. Visitors drank from the spring and filled jugs with water to take home - that is until they became sick. In 1972, an ice jam on Logan River provided the answer to the origins of Ricks Spring.

Ricks Spring usually slows to a trickle in November, and begins to flow again in April as the snow melts. In 1972, however, a severe blizzard caused an ice flow to dam Logan River. Suddenly, Ricks Spring began to flow in January. When the ice jam cleared, the flow slowed. Later, bitter cold weather caused another ice jam on Logan River and the flow of Ricks Spring increased once again. Scientists placed dye in Logan River and the dye appeared in Ricks Spring - indicating that they are directly connected by an inderground fracture in the rock.

Like most water in the Western United States, Ricks Spring carries giardia, a microorganism that causes severe intestinal discomfort. Water from Ricks Spring must be boiled or purified before drinking.

The volume of water flowing from Ricks Spring mimics the flow of water in Logan River. This gives hydrologists a clue that the Ricks Spring and Logan River are connected underground.

Ricks Spring

Pressure deep within the earth can cause rock to fold, but when the pressure becomes too great, rock fractures.

Look into the far recesses of Ricks Spring and you can see folded and fractured rock.

The rock layers that surround Ricks Spring cavern have been folded, but if you look closesly you can see a fracture or fault line in the rock. This minor fault passes through the cave and connects with Logan River. Historically, small amounts of river water were diverted through the fractured rock. Over the years, slightly acidic rain and snowmelt chemically dissolved the limestone rock along the fracture. This increased the flow of water in Ricks Spring and created the spring we see today.

Ricks Spring