• Structure 17, Glassblowing and Island Drive

    Historic Jamestowne

    Part of Colonial National Historical Park Virginia

Good, Sweet Water

A 17th-century Englishwoman draws water from a Jamestown well in this conjectural sketch by Sydney King. Some wells were brick cased; others were uncased with a wooden barrel at the bottom.
NPS image

The English remarked that the James was “sweet” (i.e. not brackish) when they arrived on May 13th. And so it was: the snow from the mountains was melting, filling the river with fresh-tasting water. Within a few weeks, however, the weather had heated up and the water was too salty to be healthy to drink. The wells the 17th-century settlers found it necessary to dig have proven archeological treasure-troves to 20th-century excavators.


Did You Know?

White mulberries of Jamestown

English settlers were encouraged to plant mulberry trees to help their silk production attempts. (Silkworms eat mulberry leaves.) Red mulberry is native to North America but the silkworms preferred the white mulberries of the Orient. Today Jamestown has both red and white mulberry trees.