Good, Sweet Water

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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.

 

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