Mineral springs and their touted healing powers once drew people to resorts built around such natural features. The spring seen below was one such destination. Its water contains a trace of lithium bicarbonate, which was said to purify the kidneys, liver, and bladder. Located in Waterloo, the spring and surrounding property were purchased by James Teague “J.T.” Harris near the end of the nineteenth century. Hoping to capitalize on the spring, which empties into Cane Creek, Harris opened a hotel in 1891 called Harris Lithia Springs Hotel.
In 1900 Harris sold the Waterloo property to investors in Augusta, Georgia, and instead focused his energies on a similar operation, White Stone Springs near Spartanburg. The new owners continued to market the properties of the spring and even opened a nearby bottling plant to ship the water to anyone who was ready to believe the doctors’ endorsements of the natural elixir. Of course, the more popular the Harris Lithia Water became, the more it was scrutinized.
In 1912 the American Medical Association wrote about Harris Lithia Water in its publication, Nostrums and Quackery, stating in a chapter titled “Misbranded Drugs and Foods” that the lithium bicarbonate content of the water was far less than its label claimed. While the company marketed the water as containing 2.86 grains of lithium bicarbonate per gallon, the Bureau found that the water contained only 1/830 grains per gallon. Subsequently, the company was no longer permitted to advertise the spring water as possessing healing or health benefits. In 1930 the hotel burned, leaving the stone spring walls as a remnant of Harris Spring’s bustling resort days.
Leila C. Kellett says
My grandfather worked there as I have been told. My dad spoke of Harris Springs. My son has become interested and read all he could find on the business. We were told that an old restaurant in Cross Hill has a picture of the Bottling Co. and my son would love a copy in his new shop. He likes real history pictures. Can you help give us any leads?
Stanley Bishop says
I am about to finish a History of Croft State Park and one of the things I spent a tremendous amount of time was the White Stone Lithia Hotel Harris built soon after the turn of the 20th Century. The hotel site is on the park. James Teague Harris, a Waterloo native, was a fascinating man. I did spend a few pages on Harris and his Harris Hotel at Harris Springs before he sold it. I then moved on to the history of the Hotel in White Stone. I’d love to come down a take a picture of the spring. Since I can’t use the one on this website, whom should I contact to visit the spring and take pictures. Also, is there a picture of the Harris Hotel? Thank you folks for preserving the history of Laurens County! The Spring is beautiful! PS. My aunt’s mother lived near the spring in White Stone, she “believed in the water” and continued to drink it after WWII and Camp Croft.
Fascinating! So glad you found us. The springs are right on the road and are publicly accessible to take photos if you would wish. If you would like to reach the photographer, he is very active on Flickr (found here: https://www.flickr.com/people/markemark4/) where you can send a message. Let us know if this does not work and we can try to get ahold of him for you. Thanks!
Linda Finley says
I am one of five people publishing the books. “Discovering Laurens County.” We are trying to preserve in pictures and written word the history of Laurens County. We are working on our 3rd book now. We would very much like to publish the picture of Harris Springs we saw posted on the SC Picture Project. We will give you all the credit. I have lived in Laurens all my life and am proud to help preserve the history and historical places and people of my county. May we have your permission to use your picture and write up, giving you credit. Do you have any other Laurens County pictures we can use. Thank you for taking these pictures and sharing. Linda
Hello Linda, you do have our permission to use the write-up if credited but we cannot grant permission for the photos as those are user submitted and we would have to seek permission. The photos are by Mark Elbrecht, we will message him for you and let him know that you are interested. This sounds like a fascinating project!
Richard Fowler says
Harris Springs was not IN Waterloo. It was located about 5 miles away on the road to Cross Hill. Waterloo was the closest village, however.
You are correct! We typically go by mailing address locations which is why we state Waterloo.