Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Waters Of The Mighty Deep

My life in appalachia waters of the mighty deep

Over the last several days the waters of the mighty deep have been replenished in western NC-which is a good thing. The destruction left in the wake of such impressive amounts of rain over such a short period of time-is not a good thing.

When The Deer Hunter and I were first married he worked for a well drilling company. I would listen with rapt attention as he told me about the amazing things he discovered on a daily basis-like artesian wells which overflowed like park water fountains-making creeks of their own design as they found their way around the drill headed for lower ground.

If you’ve never seen a well drilled before-it is a truly amazing feat. One would think you just drive up to the location and start drilling-not true. Much preparation takes place before hand. The drill rig has to be jacked up on timbers to stabilize and level the drill and the water truck has to be sufficiently close enough to supply water to the drill-which is no easy task on our steep mountain grades.

With most modern day wells being no more than 6 inches in diameter (at least in our area), one would also assume the earth isn’t disturbed all that much during the drilling of a well-not true either.

Air is pumped from the drill into the ground to blow out dirt and rock shavings as the drill bit goes deeper and deeper in search of water. Sometimes the dirt falls around the hammer blocking the air. As the air tries to find a way out-it can eroded the ground underneath the area-and underneath the drill rig causing it to tilt and settle deeper into the ground in a frightening manner.

One time The Deer Hunter came home telling about a particularly eerie well. About how the earth fell in and began to open up around the drill head. He said they shoveled dirt-threw rocks, logs, and anything else they could find into that hole-and it all just disappeared. Needless to say they broke down and moved from that well as fast as they could.

He told me about drilling in areas where marble was plentiful. Almost always they hit an underground creek or pond of underground surface water before they ever reached the layer of marble.

I learned about waters of the deep when I was a kid in Sunday school. But once The Deer Hunter shared his stories of water flowing freely from the tops of fresh drilled wells and creeks like my very own Stamey Branch running under the ground we walk upon-I was mesmerized by waters of the mighty deep-and I still am.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    January 21, 2013 at 2:44 am

    Very interesting story, I like it.

  • Reply
    January 21, 2013 at 12:02 am

    We got plentiful rain too, for which we are abundantly grateful. The water around here in ponds and creeks was so low, waterbirds were having to search for other ponds to land in as the water in their home pond was too shallow. When we see that, we get worried. The rain has restored much of their habitat to near normal now. Praise God!!! I know it makes them feel more comfortable being in familiar surroundings instead of unfamiliar ones where there may be predators to endanger them.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    January 19, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Wanda-Thank you for the comments!! I’ve never heard a song about a girl falling into a well. But-Granny Gazzie always told us there was an old well in a certain part of her yard and that we shouldn’t go near it-because one time a little girl fell in a well and died! Wonder if it was a song-or just a common story to scare kids into minding : )
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    January 18, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    I have been in the water business since 1979 in one capacity or the other. I work for the local water utility company here. The need for clean safe drinking water is such an important thing. There are many people world wide who do not have access to clean water and many people die from water borne illness due to that fact. We are blessed in this part of the world to have plenty of sources for water either public systems or private wells. I love good well water as a personal choice but do not have that option where I live. It does taste better unless you happen to have one that has a high iron content to it. My first house water supply came from a spring about a quarter of a mile from my house. It was fed by gravity to the house then a pump and tank was used for pressure. It was the sweetest water to drink. I did on occasion have pieces of spring lizards come through but it worked well. By far the safest way for good safe water is a sealed well or public supply.
    A little water triva for you…
    Only 3% of Earth’s water is fresh water. 97% of the water on Earth is salt water.
    The water found at the Earth’s surface in lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, and swamps makes up only 0.3% of the world’s fresh water.
    68.7% of the fresh water on Earth is trapped in glaciers.
    30% of fresh water is in the ground.
    1.7% of the world’s water is frozen and therefore unusable.
    Water covers 70.9% of the Earth’s surface.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    January 18, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Before I can comment today, I have to knock this freezing water off the computer…Just kidding!
    Less than thiry minutes from us snow laid in at 3 to 4 inches last night. I wish we had gotten some snow..just wind and a little sleet. Then winter is not over just yet..
    Yes, there were preparations before our well was dug..Our plumber that hired the rig, had a water witch come here and mark off the area in which they would dig the well. The old well, was over 300 feet deep and had served the family before us quite a few years…When they dug, water was hit about 40 feet, and then they said a flowing underground source was hit, not deep only about 80 to 85 feet deep..They had to let it run, gushing out and separating, what they called divorcing the water. We were thrilled and thankful. When we put our ear over the 6in wide pipe after it was set, you could hear water flowing in the pool.
    I loved this post Tipper, I hope your water keeps flowing…
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS….Would you please come over to Tennessee and get your driveway? I have to go to Georgia to get mine…..LOL Someday the well will come in and I might be able to afford to get the driveway paved…if it does I will share it with you!

  • Reply
    January 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Many years ago Daddy was plowing our garden with one of Grandpa’s mules when the mule’s foot slipped into a hole that turned out to be the remains of an old well. This is very near the house & we had all played there all our lives, not to mention working the garden.
    Anyway, there turned out to be a big & very deep hole–they put railroad cross ties & everything else they could find in it to try to fill it in. They finally did but there remains an indention there even now & there also remains a terror in my head of someone falling in. I imagine the cross ties rotted & the deep hole is just waiting for a foot put wrong. Of course the stories of other old abandoned wells didn’t help me sleep either. I still won’t walk near that old indentation & don’t want anyone else to either.
    There was an old song Mama told us about which was the story of a little girl who actually fell into an old well & died. This really helped!!! I wonder if you are familiar with that song–would like to know it’s title.

  • Reply
    January 18, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Many years ago I lived in the city
    where we had “city water”. I never
    learned to drink that stuff cause
    when you poured a glass, it looked
    more like an alka seltzer a phizen’ and didn’t taste like the
    water I grew up on. Now I have
    great tasting Mountain Water and
    no water bill…Ken

  • Reply
    January 18, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    After a long period of drought that lasted more than 5 years resulting into water cuts in every household three times a week, Cyprus has been blessed with abundant rainfall over the last two years. This winter, in particular, we’ve had so much rain that all the dams overflowed. Just imagine that the Salt Lake in Larnace did not dry up last summer. However, desalination plants will cover our needs for water in case of yet another period of drought.

  • Reply
    January 18, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    I worry about water a lot. I do believe that some people think the earth is just a big dead stone. It is not. The earth is a living breathing belching being and it saddens and scares me when I see things like the BP oil spill. I watched as millions of gallons of oil spilled out into the ocean. I felt like an artery had been severed and the earth was bleeding. And when we “harvest” the natural gas with fracking aren’t we sucking the very last out of it’s lungs? I think anyone who is lucky enough to see a natural spring should stop and think how lucky they are. So why so many earth quakes? The earth is colapsing on it’s self. We should take better care of it.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    January 18, 2013 at 11:59 am

    Sometimes Mom and Dad fell in love with the setting and didn’t think to make sure the water was okay before they took a house.
    If it was on a bucolic, hillside clearing, overlooking a green valley and away from any settlement, whether or not the water was good didn’t enter their minds. How many times we had to move because the well we found at the house gave rusty and bad water. We rented and so we couldn’t put in a new well and the one left wasn’t deep enough to get down to the aquifer but only caught the groundwater.
    Sometimes the well bucket was rusted, too and our daddy would move us before fixing the landlord’s well.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    January 18, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Tipper, your wonderful post today and the description of the “Waters of the Deep” make me very aware and thankful for water which is so necessary to life and which, I am afraid, we all take too for granted in its supply. A few years ago you were so kind as to publish here the true story I wrote of how my father, when our “dug” well went dry, went out with a forked peachtree limb and found a bubbling spring by digging into the ground where it indicated! That bubbling spring provided water for us when we needed it (our well finally got replenished,
    too). Thomas Fuller wrote, “We never know the worth of water till teh well is dry.” Here’s another to make us think, penned by Sara Doudney:
    “Take the proverb to thine heart,
    Take and hold it fast:
    ‘The mill cannot grind
    With the water that is past.'”
    The power and strength of water was expressed in Job 19:19 (Old Testament): “The waters wear the stones.” And William Shakespeare told us this memorable truth in his plays (I, II, III, VI) on King Henry: “Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep.” But those of us who grew up drawing water from the family well or fetching it in buckets from the spring can identify well (and draw up nostalgic memories) with Samuel Woodworth’s “The Old Oaken Bucket”: “The old oaken bucket, the iron-bound bucket, the moss-covered bucket that hangs in the well!” And in a rather nostalgic poem of my own penning I wrote:
    Time, Like Water
    Time slips away
    like rapidly flowing water
    under a bridge.
    Days marked on a calendar
    show the passage of time
    and my life.
    Water eddies, rushes
    to a larger body, the ocean,
    where a single stream
    is lost in its depths.
    Days, too, are swallowed up
    by some gargantuan
    giant to elf,
    elf to nothingness.
    But look!
    The water leaves a channel
    marking where it flowed.
    Rocks and crevices
    etch the water’s passage.
    People, looking at the chasm,
    say, “A mighty stream flowed here,
    gave water on this mountain,
    brought water to this valley.
    Living things grew, prospered,
    because the water watered.”
    Life, lived, is more
    than a flowing stream,
    more than water under a bridge,
    lingering sometimes
    in deeds recorded,
    memories remembered.
    -Ethelene Dyer Jones

  • Reply
    January 18, 2013 at 11:09 am

    In the beautiful mountains of WV there is a serious problem with mountain locations. Coal barons came through and bought off mineral rights many years ago. Coal mines have “sunk the wells” through the years, and innovative mountaineers had to come up with other water sources. City water has reached many remote locations, but many rely on cisterns and mountain run off. Ideally one could build on the side of a mountain and have mountain streams. No matter the damage, when Spring comes these mountains are a wonderful sight to behold.
    Tipper, I love the way you discuss, and make important, things most people never think about.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    January 18, 2013 at 10:51 am

    When we start building in Brevard, I will be looking for some well-digging tips. Our friends that built next to our place went almost 1,000 feet in mostly solid granite before giving up, relocating and drilling another well almost 900 feet deep. Our land is on the backbone of the ridge, so we expect to have to go fairly deep to find water, but I hope to get it right the first time.
    The good thing is that the water our friends got is amazing, but they spent a LOT of money getting the well in.

  • Reply
    rick kratzke
    January 18, 2013 at 10:50 am

    I too grew up with well water and now that I own a house I also have well water, it is the best tasting water you can get compared to city water. I have never seen a well dug but by reading your post I would sure like to see it done some day.

  • Reply
    January 18, 2013 at 10:32 am

    I have a bored well and it has been decidedly too low for the last several years. we have to be super careful.
    Remind me to get the Crusty old Guy to tell The Deer Hunter the well “moving” practical joke story.

  • Reply
    January 18, 2013 at 9:27 am

    I’ve had well water for over half my life. We had several wells drilled at our old house and never hit much water. We moved ten miles down the road and had the same problem. Needless to say, I never experienced the gushing water fountain you describled. The ‘witchers’ in my town are not very talented. City water is in the area now, but I still have my old hand dug well and cister for emergencies.

  • Reply
    January 18, 2013 at 8:34 am

    We had a well in South FL; it was worth the expense instead of using city water for the grass. The deepness of the well determined how much iron came out which stained the house. We had some minimal staining, but set on a timer, it proved its worth. Your posting today was very interesting. Thanks for the info.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    January 18, 2013 at 8:32 am

    I’m always amazed by the places water comes from….and goes to. On the west side of the Thomas Divide on Indian Creek, at about 4000 ft elevation, there’s a section that covers maybe half a square mile where water just pours out of the ground even in the driest weather. The Reverend James Henry Queen, who was “set apart to the Gospel ministry” by the Ocona Lufta Baptist Church settled there in the late 1800’s. He chose his home place well. A set of springs at his home site turns into an energetic branch in short order. Below is a link to a photo taken at the junction of two flows (one large, one small) both of which are within 25 feet of their source. They are joined by others, and fifty yards on down below, the combined flows has made a sizable branch.
    Conversely, I’m amazed at where water goes. On three drainages that immediately come to mind – Juneywhank Branch, Peachtree Creek and Middle Peachtree Creek – you will see streams completely disappear. Last year, I went up Juneywhank about a quarter mile above Daddy’s old home place after a heavy rain (nothing like we’ve just had). I saw a stream of water that was five feet wide and a couple of inches deep rolling down the steep holler – runoff from the rain. Here’s a picture of the stream with my hickory walking stick laid across it:
    That stream was completely gone within 250 yards (I stepped it off). Some of it, no doubt, came back to the surface on down below.

  • Reply
    Edwin Ammons
    January 18, 2013 at 8:01 am

    For the last 20 years I have been on a community well. I just had my own well drilled back before Christmas. The guy that drilled it said he could dowse for water if I wanted him too. I asked him if he couldn’t hit water here anywhere he poked a hole. He said there was water everywhere here. So we had to let the county health inspector come out and “dowse” with little orange flags. That was $300. The well, wire, pump, pipe and pressure tank was another $5000. OUCH! But I have my own water supply now. Don’t have to mess with no nosy neighbors no more!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 18, 2013 at 7:53 am

    I love water, all water. I love the ocean, the creek,the lake, a glass of water to drink, and my bathtub full of nice warm water to soak in. I’ve always loved water.
    I live near a small lake, called Lake Tomahawk, with a walking track around it. I’ve walked there for years. There is something soothing to my soul about the water.
    When I was a little girl learning to swim I loved being under the water. I learned to swim under water before I learned to swim on top of the water. I used to go under water in the pool where I learned to swim and go all the way to the bottom. There is a grate there where the water can flow out. I would put my little fingers in that grate and hold on so I wouldn’t float to the surface. It was so quiet and peaceful there under the water. No people, no noise, just quiet.
    I think it is the quiet strength of water that draws me, whether it is a little water or a lot of water.

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    January 18, 2013 at 7:25 am

    I think you have finally solved a mystery for me. The original land grant name of our Maryland farm was ‘The Deeps’. Now I understand where the name comes from. Our farm is situated atop the Wakefield Valley aquifer which is one of the most abundant and pure in the world. It is also a source of marble, in some places, equal in quality to marble used by sculptors in Rome. In fact, a famous Maryland sculptor, William Henry Rinehart, got his start by carving marble from the local limestone quarry. He went on to study in Rome and created works that are in museums around the world. That same limestone is what filtors and flavors our abundant source of water here at The Deeps. Visitors say our water tastes so good. I,too, sang a song in Sunday School…. ‘Deep and Wide, Deep and wide, there’s a fountain flowing deep and wide…’. Pity that the gigantic German quarrying company has taken over the local business of blasting the limestone/marble for the manufacture of cement. Though the water still tatstes good and flows abundantly,the aquifer is dewatered and the stone depleted over the years. Even so, we are blessed here at The Deeps.

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    January 18, 2013 at 6:43 am

    I remember when I was little, a man coming to my Mamaw’s to witch for water, he took a peach tree limb, that was about the size of a pencil, and it had a fork in it,he held each side of the fork and he walked all over the yard until that branch bowed over in a spot, he marked it for them to dig her well, and she had good and plenty water for years…I watched his arms they stayed close to his chest and wrist never moved but that limb bowed over, “freaked me out”…

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