In addition to water rushing down Lafayette St. and from Chestnut St., culverts carry stormwater from Lee, Randolph, Washington, Court, and Jefferson streets down to the sinkhole. During heavy downpours, more water runs into the sinkhole than it can drain so the meadow floods and becomes a shallow pond for a few hours. Although the photo above was taken on August 5, 2022, flooding is not a new phenomenon.
February 27, 1890 Greenbrier Independent: “Water was reported two feet deep in the Creamery ice-house yesterday morning, caused by the recent heavy rains, and the sink hole becoming clogged up.” (The Creamery was at the upper left of the picture.)
March 13, 1890 Greenbrier Independent: “Yesterday Constable Cabell, under direction of our town council, opened the sink-hole near the Creamery, which will prevent the gathering and standing of a large pond in that hollow. - The hands in digging down came across an old stone wall which some one had built around the sink many years ago.”
The sinkhole has been associated with waste disposal since the early 19th century when the first tannery was built near the sinkhole. The tannery, and later the Creamery and Cannery, undoubtedly used the sinkhole as a convenient way to get rid of their waste materials.
Glove Making, an Early Lewisburg industry: The tannery was located in a hollow north of Washington Street and near Lafayette Street, in the rear of what was later known as the Beirne property, where a well known spring supplies the water, and an underground cavern furnished convenient disposal of the refuse. Caldwell / North House Collection, container 4 item 66 1942
During the 20th century, the sinkhole was an important location in the management of Lewisburg's sewage.
Deed book 128, page 363: “This deed made this 7th day of January 1937 . . . . conveys . . . . a right-of-way for a sewer line . . . . which runs through the property . . . . coming from the Lewisburg Graded and High School buildings and leading to the cesspool in the hollow on the property of Miss Nannie Surbaugh. . . . “
Eventually, the Public Service District built a municipal sewage system to serve Lewisburg and adjacent neighborhoods. A number of sewage mains were installed that flow down to a small pumping station that was built in 1975 at the foot of Lafayette St. Then in 1996, the current pumping station (shown above) was constructed next to the sinkhole. It pumps the sewage back uphill towards Holt Lane, and from there it flows downhill to the City of Ronceverte's sewage treatment plant by the Greenbrier River. In 2017, Ronceverte completed a $24 million upgrade of the plant which now meets all State and Federal standards.