Appalachia Appalachian Food

Good Water


A spring Pap used to feed our gravity water system when I was a child

“Mountain people…highly valued a cold, good-tasting spring, and when they had to go to the “flat lands” always returned home complaining about how warm and awful-tasting the water was. Dock and Liza Jones, who lived fairly near (Hazel) Creek’s mouth, had a springhouse and anyone who passed by and was thirsty knew they could stop and have a drink of ice cold water or some of Liza’s good buttermilk.”

~Dauane Oliver, Cooking on Hazel Creek


Pap valued good tasting water. He would have probably said one of his main needs was to have good tasting water. I remember when he finally had a well drilled. I was in about 8th grade. He worried more about whether the water would taste good than he did about the cost of the drilling. Thankfully the well water was top knotch.

The Deer Hunter and I are lucky that our well is full of clear cold good tasting water.

I value the taste of water more as an adult than I ever did as a kid. Much like the people in the quote who visited the flat lands, I can’t hardly tolerate visiting somewhere that has bad tasting water. I drink a gallon of water a day and I pack it to take with me to work.

My building at work recently got one of those new fangled water coolers. I think its really just a water fountain that looks different, but what do I know? Anyway one day someone remarked that now that we had a new water cooler I wouldn’t have to carry in all my water. I said “Naaa I think I’ll stick with the water from my house ๐Ÿ™‚ .”


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  • Reply
    Leon Pantenburg
    May 16, 2019 at 8:16 am

    I live in Mississippi, and the land I ramble on has several springs. During hunting season, I would go out of my way to go drink from the springs. One spring in particular had historic roots. It was near an old road, and in 1863, the Confederates retreated down that road after the battle of the Big Black River to get to Vicksburg. I always imagine the scene that could have happened there.

  • Reply
    July 6, 2018 at 8:09 am

    To this day, when I go “home” (back to the farm where I was raised and that my brother owns now) I still fill jugs of water to bring back to my own place ๐Ÿ˜‰ I love that cold clear water! My Mom always said that people will fuss and fight over things like oil but it’s the water that is precious.

  • Reply
    July 2, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    Now Tipper, your talking my language. Where i was raised, that’s all we had was springs. We lived back up in a holler. The spring water taste so good and fresh. It was always cold. We had to carry our water to drink, wash clothes, take a bath. In the summer time ,we just went to the creek and took our bath. I know now things are easier but it makes you miss and think about when you was a kid. It was hard work back then but i do appreciate what i have now. I love and enjoy all the stories that’s shared. God Bless. And Happy 4th every body.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    July 2, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    I’m a coffee drinker, and I never drink water. I take my medicines with Cherry 7-up and that City-water tastes like an Alka-Seltzer that has lost it’s fizz. I lived in Atlanta while I worked and went to school, so I suppose that’s where I formed my opinion. There are several Springs on our property, one above and one below the house. We used both when I was growing up. …Ken

  • Reply
    betty stephenson
    July 2, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    my parents used to have what we call here an artesian well it tasted really great unfortunately now our water here in christchurch tastes absolutely horrid as our city council has decided to put flouride in our water while all our pipes are repaired after all the earthquakes here wish we could go back to the good old days

  • Reply
    July 2, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    Hi Tipper, I’m back in Wi on G-ma’s farm in the 40s, the big old wind mell a blowing in the wind and me pumping water.In G-ma’s kitchen there was a small pump for cistern water to do dishes.Then in the mid 50s I married a young Air Force man from Ky.They had the best spring water for drinking and creek water for washing clothes.Richard passed in 58 but my daughter and I went back for visit while our big mom was alive.My Mary enjoyed the water so much from the pal and dipper that I set up one in my kitchen when she was small.Thanks for the memorys.God Bless.Jean

  • Reply
    July 2, 2018 at 11:57 am

    My Grandparents had a most wonderful spring and two creeks and the river. Such wonderful water, you can’t describe. Three years after I inherited the place , lightening struck the tree right behind thr spring and resuivor . I knew from old stories from granddad something would happen and it did. Had to drill well, was awful and could go on but won’t bore your fine, busy readers. Sold farm in 2012, as is, water and all. Am now on city water w/ septic tank. I had reverse osmosis put under sink but it still didn’t satisfy me so I filter that water thru Zero Water pitcher and it’s perfect. I drink , make coffee and cook with it.
    You sometimes just have to pay for water. I fill different containers and carry wherever I go. Juice bottles can be refilled unlike thin water bottles. The dogs and I are prepared on the road.
    Where my son lives in CO is on fire. I wish it would rain there!! I really feel for all the animals.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    July 2, 2018 at 11:19 am

    I immediately though of the spring where my daddy made moonshine. Had to have good water to make good whiskey!

    All through my childhood & early adulthood we had to draw our water from a deep well. It was a task! Looking back I can’t imagine how Mama managed to can and freeze having to get water that way. And wash in the wringer washer. It was good water–clear and cold. She often told us about lowering medicine into the well to keep it good.

    When a well was finally drilled and a pump installed, that water was good, too. Maybe it was from the same source as the old well.

    West TN is pretty flat and I don’t remember many springs. There was a spring house at Chickasaw State Park though, that always fascinated me.

  • Reply
    July 2, 2018 at 11:01 am

    Maybe that is why I don’t care for water any more. I can still make a paper cup out of a sheet of notebook paper. Occasionally on the way home from school we would walk a short distance out of the way. I would make a cup and drink a wonderful drink of that clear mountain spring water. Oftentimes folks pull over and fill jugs of fresh water running from a water fall off of a mountain. I don’t think they ever tested it, but it sure tastes better than that chlorinated stuff from the tap. Besides they have a lot of boil water axvissries.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    July 2, 2018 at 10:35 am

    I love good water. The town where I live has water that tastes like drinking out of a swimming pool. My parents have a nice nice deep well and great water.

    My wife and I are a finishing two weeks in New Mexico. We went hiking in Chaco Canyon. They have the best water there. We always fill up jugs to take back to Albuquerque. I guess desert water knows how important it is.

  • Reply
    July 2, 2018 at 10:05 am

    I am reminded of a spring-fed well on a neighbor of my Grandparents in East Tennesee mountains. It remains to this day the sweetest water I have ever tasted. In the heat of summer it was so cold it would make my teeth ache. A priceless memory for sure.

  • Reply
    July 2, 2018 at 9:51 am

    I’m the same as your Pap about the importance of good water.

  • Reply
    July 2, 2018 at 9:39 am

    I can only imagine how really good that water would taste…. I remember the song ”Clear Cool Water ”also.. my Mama use to sing a song which by the lyrics I thought would be called ”Waterwheel”… always loved the tune and would ask her to sing it often…I googled it and looked on YouTube to see if it was an old tune. Never found one with that title though. if I had water like that I’d sure want to take it with me too:)

  • Reply
    July 2, 2018 at 9:20 am

  • Reply
    July 2, 2018 at 9:12 am

    City water wasn’t available when we bought this house and the hand dug well outside the kitchen door was nearly dry. The previous owners used the cistern for everything but cooking and drinking. The owner said they had tried to drill wells three or four times and never hit water. We wanted a well, nothing doing. We hired a guy in town who was known for witching wells. He must have used the wrong kind of stick because we spent $800 on drilling and didn’t get a drop of water.
    I wish I could drink a gallon of water each day like you do.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 2, 2018 at 9:06 am

    I’m with you. We had a well 189 feet deep in Gilmer County, GA that was good water. Our well now is not. The water tastes brassy, maybe from the copper pipes, but anyway we get grocery story water to drink and cook with. I still miss our old well.

  • Reply
    Myra Henry
    July 2, 2018 at 9:01 am

    A few years back I was honored to accompany a friend to her family reunion. Her dad in his 90’s brought a huge thermos of spring water from his farm in northeastern KY. I was fortunate enough to get a taste. What a huge difference in what I normally drink from this good water. Would sure love to have that to drink everyday!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 2, 2018 at 7:10 am

    Tip, you know I have good spring water at my house. I value good water too. I carry my own water with me where ever I go, except when I go to your house, cause I know you have good water.
    I spent many years living where My only water choice was city water or bottled water. I didn’t like it so I tried different filtration systems till I found the one that worked the best for me.
    I don’t like the taste of city water AND I don’t trust what they do to the city water to make it disease free.
    You will not ever see me leave home without one or two stainless steel thermoses! Laugh if you want but I’m serious about water!
    A local man recently came to my house to do some work outside. It was hot as a blister outside that day. He drank all the water that he brought with him so when he ran out I offered him some of my water. He accepted it and took a big drink, then he said, “you got good water.” I laughed and said, “yes I do.”

  • Reply
    Sanford McKinney Jr
    July 2, 2018 at 6:56 am

    I was all set to hear Paul and the girls play and sing “Clear Cool Water”.

  • Reply
    Patricia Arrowood Page
    July 2, 2018 at 6:37 am

    I still remember spring water constantly running through a wooden trough into a barrel with a hanging dipper at my great grandmother โ€˜s house in Marble. The best water ever! My dad was like Pap. Whenever we finally had to drill a well at the house in Andrews and abandon the surface well, he was more than happy that that water was better than the surface well and the earlier spring water source. So a progression of โ€œthreeโ€ water sources and still the best water ever. It has to be Cherokee County, right?

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    July 2, 2018 at 6:32 am

    We live in Brevard, NC on a mountain ridge. We had to go 650 feet deep to get water, but it is delicious, clear and cold.

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