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Cambridge Springs was settled early in the 1800s by German and Irish families. The land was fertile for growing grains. French Creek, which flowed through from the northeast, was an ample source of water. The first bridge over the creek was built in 1815. In 1853 Cambridge Township was organized from a part of Venango Township to the west. Nine years later the Atlantic & Great Western Railroad laid tracks northward to communities in eastern Erie County and beyond. After the drilling of the first successful oil well near Titusville to the east, the east-west Pennsylvania Petroleum Railroad tracks were laid and the two sets of tracks crossed in the midst of the growing village. In 1866 the village incorporated as Cambridgeboro. With the interest in oil, a local resident sunk a well in 1860, only to hit a mineral spring. Not until a national zeal for mineral waters became popular was it attempted to market his. In 1884 the first springhouse was opened. The Atlantic & Great Western Railroad became the New York, Pennsylvania & Ohio Railroad by 1895 and was bringing in visitors to the springs at a rate of one trainload per hour during the season. To acknowledge the importance of the springs to the community, the name was changed in 1897 to Cambridge Springs. At least a dozen springs were in operation in and around the community by this time. More public transportation became available to Cambridge Springs when a trolley line was laid from Meadville to Erie in 1902 and remained in operation until 1928.
The Riverside Hotel [left] was opened in 1886 as one of the earliest hotels in the borough. With the interest in mineral springs beginning to wane, the Riverside Hotel opened a nine-hole golf course in 1913 and ten years later added a second nine-hole course. By the 1920s only a few of the big hotels remained. Fire took most, and by 1980 only the Riverside remained. Although there are no mineral springs in operation today, the Riverside Hotel, now called The Riverside Inn, remains in business. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites and continues to be a popular attraction in the tri-state area with its golf and dinner theater packages.
The Rider Hotel [right] was built in 1895 on a hill just above the town. It was the largest of Cambridgeboro's grand hotels. It included 270 rooms, a bowling alley, a gym for both sexes, and an indoor swimming pool. In 1904 Cambridge Springs hosted an international chess tournament at the Rider Hotel. The 'Cambridge Springs Defense' (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.e3 c6 6.Nf3...; also known as Pillbury Defense) is named for this event. This opening variation was first used in 1892 (or, according to other sources, in 1896) and was employed in several games in the 1904 tournament. In 1912 the Polish National Alliance purchased the building and grounds for use as a technical school. By the 1940s it became a four-year college known as Alliance College and housed the largest collection of Polish writing in the United States. The old Rider hotel was destroyed by fire in 1931 and new buildings soon were erected for the college.
[Texts modified from http://visiteriepa.com/communities/cambridge_springs.shtml and http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/oldstuff/csdefens.htm]